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Q&A: Historian Vincent O’Malley

Q&A: Vincent O’Malley
Interviewed by Vaughan Rapatahana

Kia ora Vincent.

Tēnā koe mō tāu pukapuka. Ka nui te pai tēnei mahi.

Vincent O'Malley (source: BWB Books)

Vincent O’Malley (source: BWB Books)

VR: Let’s start at the top. The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800 -2000 is a massive book and a mighty indictment of the ways in which Pākehā grabbed the land off and of Māori; a systematic snatching that of course has had and continues to have serious ramifications for many Māori today. What are the positive flow-on effects stemming from this important book, that you are experiencing yourself?

Vincent: The response to the book has been phenomenal right from the day we launched it back in October 2016. That was at the Waahi Pā poukai in Huntly. I handed over the first official copy to Kīngi Tuheitia and wandered around the back of the whare where a big crowd was gathering. I wondered what was happening. It turned out they were already queuing to get their own copies of the book and so I spent the next three or four hours signing hundreds of books. It was a huge privilege to be invited to launch the book on such an important date in the Kīngitanga calendar and to see the way in which it has been embraced by Tainui has been amazing. I also really hoped the book would speak to Pākehā about the need to own their history and again the reception has been remarkable. At times it has felt less like a book and more like I’m part of some kind of social movement.

bwb8358_tgw_cover_01At a personal level, I guess my profile as a writer and a historian has increased and I’ve done dozens of public talks over the past couple of years in all kinds of different places and forums. And my message is always that the New Zealand Wars were defining conflicts in our history. They are part of our story and we need to know this history, and ensure our rangatahi learn it at school. I have done lots of school visits myself in this time and I know young people really get why this history matters to them and their communities. In some respects they are leading the way for their elders.    

VR: As a corollary, what are the bad effects – if any – arising from both the ongoing publicity surrounding this book, as well as from those who may have read it? Do you still sight ignorant comments, encounter any racist epithets? If so, how to handle suchlike?

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Q&A: True Crime writer Scott Bainbridge

Q&A: Scott Bainbridge
Interviewed by Vaughan Rapatahana

VR: Why does your latest book, The Missing Files, have only some new cases, i.e. why is there rather a lot of repetition of cases from your previous two books on missing Kiwis, namely Without Trace (2005) and Still Missing (2008)?

Scott Bainbridge is one of New Zealand’s foremost investigative and True Crime authors. His first two books; Without Trace and Still Missing about missing persons, led to several cold-cases being re-opened, and inspired the acclaimed TVNZ series, The Missing. In his third book; Shot in the Dark, Bainbridge accessed old murder files to examine unsolved NZ murders of the 1920s and 30s, dispelling decades-old myths and uncovering hidden truths. His latest book is The Missing Files.

Scott Bainbridge is one of New Zealand’s foremost investigative and True Crime authors. His first two books; Without Trace and Still Missing about missing persons, led to several cold-cases being re-opened, and inspired the acclaimed TVNZ series, The Missing. In his third book; Shot in the Dark, Bainbridge accessed old murder files to examine unsolved NZ murders of the 1920s and 30s, dispelling decades-old myths and uncovering hidden truths. His latest book is The Missing Files.

Scott: When I re-visited those two earlier books and the television series, The Missing, which followed on from them, I realised that there had been progress since then, across several of the cases. For example, in the Marion Granville case, her own Mum had no idea that Marion was on heroin, and was dealing in it too…

I also now have less of a closed shop reaction from the NZ Police. I obtained far more details.

So, my new book is an update from these earlier books.

More, I feel that I have now moved on from these cases.

VR: ‘Realistically’, for which cases from The Missing Files do you see any resolution? For example, the cases of Heidi Charles? Sydney Patrick Fisk? Craig Hampton, all of which I found rather intriguing.

Scott: I had a meeting with Missing Persons Bureau last month and we had what is termed ‘anniversary reviews’ of certain cases, yet – unlike previously – there was no new information forthcoming from any source as a result of this new book.

However, in some cases there has been some progress. For example, a whānau desire to resolve the case. The Wharton whānau want to find Betty. The belief is that indeed she is buried on a Tatuanui farm property.

About Heidi Charles, I have no idea. There is still a strong lead in the tale of her husband attending a boy scout camp and supposedly threatening his son there that he would do to him (the son) what he did to his mother, although the son has no such recollection about this comment. Heidi may well have left Rotorua willingly – after all she did have NZ$400, which would be worth several thousand dollars back then (1977)…

VR: Was there perhaps a serial killer in Rotorua? For example, what about the case of Olive Walker?

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Release: BWB Text by Morgan Godfery

Māui Street’ by Morgan Godfery – BWB Texts

Everyone lives a messy, unusual life. There is no normal. The sooner our politics understands this, the better off we will all be.

Morgan Godfery is one of New Zealand’s most energising young thinkers. In just a few years he has become a leading voice in the country’s social and political life. Starting out under his own banner, ‘Māui Street’, his writing now appears across national and international publications.

This curated selection brings together the best of Godfery’s writing. The book opens in Kawerau, Godfery’s home, re-counting the lives of his parents – a Mongrel Mob father and a teenage mother. From here it moves into blogs, columns, and essays examining New Zealand and the Pacific, from Winston Peter’s ‘race talk’ to Disney’s Moana.

The book closes with a ‘Poroporoaki – remembering’ section. This section includes an original and very personal essay by Godfery on his life and family, called That’s How the Trees Feel.

Read together, the collection charts the emergence of a significant New Zealand voice.

About the author: Morgan Godfery, Te Pahipoto (Ngāti Awa), Lalomanu (Samoa), is a writer and trade unionist. He is the editor of The Interregnum, published by Bridget Williams Books in 2016, is a contributing writer at the Spinoff, and was a nonfiction judge for 2017’s Ockham New Zealand Books Awards and the Ngā Kupu Ora Awards: Celebrating Māori Books and Journalism. Morgan also regularly appears on radio and television as a political commentator, has authored numerous academic chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles, and sits on the board of the Legal Issues Centre at the University of Otago. Morgan graduated in law at Victoria University in 2015.

Release: Short Story Prize Deadline

Release: 24 October 2018

There is one week left the enter the 2019 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

The Prize is awarded for the best piece of unpublished short fiction (2,000–5,000 words). Entries can be made in Bengali, Chinese, English, Greek, Kiswahili, Malay, Portuguese, Samoan, Tamil and Turkish, and in translation into English from any language. The Prize is free to enter.

Regional winners receive £2,500 and the overall winner receives £5,000.

The 2019 international judging panel, chaired by Kittitian-British writer Caryl Phillips (above), has been announced. Meet the judges here.

Phillips said of the Prize:

The short story offers a writer the opportunity to delve into character, explore difficult subject-matter, and be adventurous with form; in short, the writer can do all the things that they might do in a novel, but do so concisely. The Commonwealth Short Story Prize attracts entries which address a wide range of human experience in this complex multi-cultural and multi-racial world, and the prize is open to original stories written in English, or in a variety of other languages representing the diversity of the cultures which make up the Commonwealth.

Click here to enter


Release: NZ and the Sea

New Zealand and the Sea – A major new history from Bridget Williams Books

19 October 2018

New Zealand’s history has been dominated by the presence of the ocean. Until very recently, everyone who came to New Zealand did so after long weeks at sea. Even today, most people live near the coast. The sea provides employment, transport and leisure; it is at the forefront of our imaginations, and days at the beach are, for many, synonymous with summer and childhood.

Yet when we think about history, we readily imagine it from the land. Our stories of the past take place in towns and cities, across farmlands, in the mountains and the bush. When the sea appears at all, it is a temporary barrier, an interruption to pass over quickly.

New Zealand and the Sea marks a significant new direction in historical thinking about this country.
It explores New Zealand’s relationship with the sea across many facets of life, from early origins until the present day, and challenges the conventional belief that history unfolds on land.

This volume brings together leading and emerging scholars to highlight the dynamic, ocean-centred history of these islands and their inhabitants, offering fresh and fascinating perspectives on New Zealand’s past to open up our thinking about our places and nation.

Contributors: Atholl Anderson, Tony Ballantyne, Julie Benjamin, Douglas Booth, Chris Brickell, Peter Gilderdale, David Haines, Susann Liebich, Alison MacDiarmid, Ben Maddison, Angela McCarthy, Grace Millar, Damon Salesa, Jonathan Scott, Frances Steel, Michael J. Stevens, Jonathan West

About the Editor: Frances Steel, a New Zealander, teaches at the University of Wollongong. Her research connects histories of empire, mobility and the sea in the Pacific World. She is the author of Oceania under Steam: Sea Transport and the Cultures of Colonialism, c.1870–1914 (Manchester University Press, 2011), and with Julia Martinez, Claire Lowrie and Victoria Haskins, Colonialism and Male Domestic Service across the Asia Pacific (Bloomsbury, 2018).

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