Scoop Review of Books

Archive for August, 2015

Our Unresolved Tensions

Asians and the New Multiculturalism in Aotearoa-New Zealand
Edited by Gautam Ghosh and Jacqueline Leckie
(Otago University Press, $40)
Reviewed by Vaughan Rapatahana

otago088838This is an important and timely book, because the Asian segment of the New Zealand population is increasing exponentially faster than any other ethnic grouping, given – of course – that the term Asian is rather general and sweeping and includes Chinese, Indian, Korean, Filipino, Cambodian et al.

Now, I am duty bound to point out that the edited set of chapters that make up Asians and the New Multiculutralism in Aotearoa New Zealand  is the result of a 2011 symposium held in early February at Otago University. Because of this, the figures quoted throughout are largely taken from the 2006 nationwide census, which lends a somewhat dated feel to many of the chapters.

For, whilst the 2006 census results show a very rapid increase in the number of Asians in NZ, whether as new arrivals or as born here, the 2013 census results – touched on really only in the Afterword – ram home just how massive this expansion has become. Because in 2013 Asians identified as 11.8%, double the sum of the 2001 census, and out of this 11.8%, 31.6% were overseas born (See Figure One below). On this basis, it is predicted that by 2026, people identifying themselves as Asian will be the second largest ethnic grouping within NZ behind the sluggishly growing Caucasian majority, and surpassing the tāngata whenua, Māori (See Figure Two below).

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Clear Science

Luminous Moments
by Paul Callaghan (BWB Texts, paper $14.99; e-book $4.99)
Reviewed by Judith Nathan

BWB Callaghan-002As a former Massey University staff member, I was well aware of the eminence of our long serving professor of physics. In one of the items in this collection of seven recent writings and speeches, Sir Paul Callaghan attributed his interest in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, the field in which he made his international reputation, to his appointment to a small university science department largely comprising chemists.

It was really after his move to Wellington, to Victoria University, that it became apparent that Sir Paul was much more than an eminent physicist. He not only gathered a group of talented scientists around him to progress his research and founded a company to promote its commercial application, but he also made it his mission to explain the importance of good science to the general public, for example in interviews on National Radio with Kim Hill. One of these is published in this collection; there is also an item on pseudo-science. Even more admirably, he chose to publicly share many aspects of his three years of treatment for the cancer that sadly killed him at 64: these items serve as a reminder of the tremendous amount that Sir Paul achieved in this last phase of his life.

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Contrary to Popular Belief

Geering and God: 1965-71: The Heresy Trial that Divided New Zealand
by Lloyd Geering (BWB Texts, paper $14.99; e-book $4.99)
Reviewed by Judith Nathan

BWB Geering-001This text is an extract from Sir Lloyd Geering’s autobiography, Wrestling with God, published in 2006, with a brief foreword about Professor Geering by Allan Davidson, a leading New Zealand church historian. Many older Dunediners like myself, and indeed older Presbyterians and others throughout the country, will remember the controversy aroused by the articles and speeches of Professor Geering, Principal of Knox College Theological Hall in the late 1960s. Perhaps I should state up front that I remember my father supporting Professor Geering’s views, so I came to this volume predisposed to admire it.

One wonders whether theological articles today could be so divisive as these were, and whether they would result in the author being not only vilified within his church but also interviewed on television. Christianity can still rouse intense public criticism but it is in relation to sects such as the Destiny Church, not a mainstream denomination. It is hard to imagine a 21st century trial for heresy.

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