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No Longer an Island

Zealandia: Our Continent Revealed
by Nick Mortimer and Hamish Campbell (Penguin, $60)
Reviewed by Simon Nathan

Z cover-001Looking back over my geological career, I realise how lucky I was to be a working scientist during the later part of the twentieth century when ideas on the nature of the Earth underwent a revolution. When I was a student in the early 1960s, the idea of continental drift was regarded by many people as laughable. Twenty years later the concept of plate tectonics was widely accepted, and it started to be appreciated that the older rocks in New Zealand were a fragment of the ancient Gondwana continent. This book is an excellent account of how New Zealand is part of  the largely submerged continent of Zealandia, now the world’s seventh continent, extending from New Caledonia in the north to Campbell Island in the south.

In reviewing this book, I should note at the outset that I know the authors, which is hardly surprising in the small geoscience community in this country. Indeed, as both of them have played a leading role in developing ideas on the nature of continental New Zealand, it would be difficult to find a reviewer who did not know them, and many of the other scientists who feature in this volume.

Zealandia and the other six continents.

Zealandia and the other six continents.

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The Fantastic Four



FOUR OUTSTANDING novels have been announced as the finalists for the 2014 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, which will be presented on 30 August following The Great New Zealand Crime Debate event at the WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival. The Ngaio Marsh Award is made annually for the best crime, mystery, or thriller novel written by a New Zealand citizen or resident.

“This has absolutely been the toughest year for the judges in the five-year history of the Award,” says Judging Convenor Craig Sisterson. “We had eight excellent, incredibly different novels that made up our deepest and most diverse long list yet. Those books illustrate that local writers are exploring questions of crime and mystery in a variety of exciting ways, and providing readers with a great mix of entertainment, fine storytelling, and beautiful prose. It has made our job very hard, but it’s a nice problem to have.”

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Release: Economics for People

Bridget Williams Books is continuing its series of BWB Texts – described as “short books on big subjects by great New Zealand wellbeingeconomicswebwriters” – with Wellbeing Economics: Future Directions for New Zealand, by Paul Dalziel and Caroline Saunders ($14.99 print book; $4.99 as an e-book).

According to publicity material from BWB: “Dalziel and Saunders say the purpose of economic activity should be to promote the wellbeing of people. Therefore, instead of measuring economic growth for its own sake, we should be assessing how well the economy enables all New Zealanders to lead ‘the kinds of lives they value and have reason to value’.

Wellbeing economics aims to address issues like unemployment and poverty directly, rather than assuming these problems will be solved automatically with higher economic growth.”

Family Secrets

A History of Silence: a Memoir by Lloyd Jones
Penguin Books, RRP: $38

Reviewed by Simon NathanHistSilence-001

The first page of this book contains a geological quotation from my colleagues Hamish Campbell and Gerard Hutching: “Faults may appear haphazard, but they are never random. There is always a hidden control or reason for their presence….”. It seemed a strange choice, but the meaning gradually became clear as Lloyd Jones painstakingly pieces together the story of his family, and discovers some of the relationships that his parents never understood or explained.

As always, Lloyd Jones writes wonderful evocative prose, and it was easy for me to identify with some of his experiences. Like him I am also an ‘autumn leaf’, born much later than my siblings, and brought up almost as an only child after the older ones have left home. I work only a few hundred metres away from 20 Stellin Street where the Jones family lived, and know many of the places he describes in Lower Hutt, Wellington and Christchurch. And I have been involved with family research, which so often seems like doing a jigsaw puzzle with half the pieces missing.

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Vaughan Rapatahana – Two Poems from china as kafka

china as kafka

china as kafka.

limbo land.

relentless brume
of shale-shroud cities,

++++l+ a+ b+ y+ r+ I+ n+ t+ h+ i+ n+ e+

++++++++ ‘law’,
++++++++++++++++++++++++ [all
++++++++++++++++++++++++ show trials/no trials:]
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