Scoop Review of Books

Archive for October, 2014

Kei Wareware i a Tātou

Beyond the Imperial Frontier: The Contest for Colonial New Zealand
by Vincent O’Malley (Bridget Williams Books, paper $49.99; e-book $20)
Reviewed by Alison McCulloch

OMalley_Cover_2014As we enter what Australian historian Henry Reynolds has called a “carnival of commemoration” around the Gallipoli centenary, it feels both necessary and refreshing to dig into local history – into stories of our own wars in all their tragedy and triumph.

Wellington historian Vincent O’Malley’s new book, Beyond the Imperial Frontier: The Contest for Colonial New Zealand does that, and more besides. Because it’s a collection of essays rather than a linear history following a singular narrative, O’Malley is able to range widely across time and topic, from a fresh analysis of the 1863 invasion of the Waikato, to the taking of Tiritiri Matangi Island in the Hauraki Gulf, to the oil wars of the East Coast (who knew?).

This also makes it the perfect book to dip into and out of, although I read it from cover to cover, in order of appearance. Well almost. I couldn’t resist dipping into Chapter 7 first.

That chapter, about the Waikato war, caught my eye partly because I live in Tauranga Moana, into which the Waikato war spilled 150 years ago this past year, and partly because I know O’Malley is working on a book dedicated to that war, due in 2015, and I was eager for a preview. I also confess to becoming a little obsessed of late at the disconnect between the wads of cash and attention being lavished on Gallipoli and the curious  neglect shown our own wars, and it’s a point O’Malley makes here, albeit more politely than I might.

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One Country, Worlds Apart

Wellbeing Economics: Future Directions for New Zealand
by Paul Dalziel & Caroline Saunders (BWB Texts, paper $14.99; e-book $4.99)
Growing Apart: Regional Prosperity in New Zealand
by Shamubeel Eaqub (BWB Texts, paper $14.99; e-book $4.99)
Reviewed by Marlene Ware

Editor’s Note: This post is the first in a series of reviews of books in the BWB Texts series.  

growingapartwebShamubeel Eaqub’s research, as outlined in Growing Apart, suggests that although we are one country, the regions of that country are worlds apart – some areas are comparable to the thriving economies of Finland or Saudi Arabia, while others are more like emerging economies – Timor-Leste, Greece and the Seychelles are mentioned. What’s more, the  household income gaps between these regions are continuing to widen, as some areas stagnate whilst others prosper.

Some of the important contributing forces are beyond our control, for example, globalization, urbanization, technological advances and the ageing population. Other factors relate to differences in regional economies themselves: some are large and diverse, while others are small and specialized; some have varied opportunities for employment, while unemployment is high in others.

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Together Apart

White Ghosts, Yellow Peril: China and New Zealand 1790-1950
by Stevan Eldred-Grigg, with Zeng Dazheng 曾达峥 (Otago University Press, $55)
Reviewed by Judith Morrell Nathan

Eldred-Grigg-front-coverThe complex relationship between China and New Zealand in the pre-Communist era is not well known. Stevan Eldred-Grigg, a New Zealand historian who has lived in China, is well qualified to write a history such as this.

I grew up with stories of the Chinese gold-miners of Otago, shopped at Chinese greengrocers in Dunedin, wore Sew Hoy clothing and subsequently learned about Chinese on the West Coast from Julia Bradshaw’s excellent history,  Golden Prospects: Chinese on the West Coast of New Zealand.  I was aware of the poll tax (though not that it was passed by the House of Representatives in 1881 by only one vote) and some of the other discriminatory measures against Chinese in New Zealand such as their exclusion from old age pensions.   But this book covers a lot that was new to me, from the New Zealand-China seal trade, to New Zealand businessmen supporting Chinese immigration, and the Chinese empire opening an embassy here in 1909. And that’s just in the New Zealand sections.

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Digital Kids

Raising Children in a Digital Age
by Bex Lewis (Lion Husdon)
Reviewed by Nikki Slade Robinson

Digital_Age_CoverGrooming, identity theft, security settings, inappropriate content, viruses … and your children. The ‘Digital Age’ is yet another area that parents have to get their heads around managing. Another lot of negotiating, researching, talking to other parents.  Making sure your children brush their teeth, eat their veges and learn how to cross the road safely all seem quite straightforward when compared with tackling the ever-changing world of digital access using all manner of digital devices that are now available. How do you give your children the skills they need to use this resource sensibly and safely? How do you keep up with the changes? Wouldn’t it be great if somebody could bundle up all the information a parent needs, into one nice, non-technological device called a book?

Bex Lewis, an expert in social media and digital innovation, has done just that. She starts by discussing the pros and cons of digital technology, putting the issues in perspective. She explains how media reporting often focuses on a minority of users and incidents, portraying digital issues in an inaccurate way, ‘fear sells. … The press has a habit of scaremongering parents and hyping the online risks’, and she then discusses the benefits to be had from digital technology.

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