Book reviews: One for the road - April 2014

If you're heading off for some well-deserved R&R, there's no better time to grab a great book. Peta Stavelli reviews some of the latest offerings from New Zealand publishing houses.

TuhoeTuhoe – Portrait of a Nation

Kennedy Warne and James Quinn
Penguin Group NZ, $60

This handsome hardcover book comes with a surprisingly small price tag, which will hopefully encourage a change of heart in those least likely to make an investment into understanding the true story of Tuhoe.

Many will feel they already know the story. After all the trial of 'Tuhoe's most wanted' — Tama Iti — is fresh in the minds of the public, divided as they may yet be over his innocence or guilt. Inside the encircled lands of Tuhoe, there are also divided opinions about the veteran activist. Yet few would shy from drawing comparisons between the heavy-handed actions of the police handling of the 2007 Te Urewera raids and Maungapohatu's Bloody Sunday, in 1906, which validated the illegal purchase of Te Urewera land.

Maungapohatu had already become a potent symbol of injustice during the 100 years that passed between the two events. The repetition of such damning history clearly signalled that effective political change and restoration were long overdue. In 2013, Iti was released from jail and the leaders of Nga Tuhoe signed a historic settlement with the Crown. Tuhoe — Portrait of a Nation, elegantly records for posterity the history of the Tuhoe nation to date.


We -are -waterWe are Water

Wally Lamb
Harper Collins Publishers NZ, $35

From bestselling author Wally Lamb comes another epic tale. This time he brings his shrewd focus to the dynamics of a true-to-life fictional family. But not any family. We are Water opens in the lead up to the same-sex wedding of acclaimed artist Annie Oh to her art dealer, Viveca. As her adult family fractures along the lines of their loyalty to Annie and her ex-husband Orion, they are each faced with their own shortcomings. Plots and subplots emerge, including a pivotal link between the family and the past mysterious death of immensely collectable Black American artist, Josephus Jones. It is impossible to ignore the parallels of bias that each of the two subject artists has faced. In the end, the central focus on the wedding becomes secondary to the struggle each member of the Oh family encounters as they try to find their own level.


Shackletons -EpicShackleton's Epic

Tim Jarvis
Harper Collins Publishers NZ, $55

In 1916, Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton sailed across 1300 kilometres of hostile ocean in a tiny, leaking boat, and then trekked across unmapped ice and snow to reach a rescue station. Shackleton's heroic bid to save the members of his ill-fated expedition trapped in the Antarctic pack ice is one of the world's greatest stories of courage and endurance.

In 2013, explorer Tim Jarvis and a crew of five, set out to replicate Shackleton's journey, using the same equipment and eating the same unpalatable food while facing the same desolate conditions. Here for the first time is the whole story of that trip — the wretched lows and the occasional highs, together with the gruelling mental and physical toughness it takes to test yourself in one of the last wildernesses on Earth. Moving between the past and the present, and combining a thrilling survival story with over 200 beautiful contemporary and historical photographs, this is a must-read book for all Shackleton fans and lovers of epic adventure.


A-good -baking -dayA Good Baking Day

Rural Women New Zealand
Random House NZ, $37

Over 500 delicious, never-fail recipes for cakes, muffins, slices, biscuits, loaves, scones, breads, desserts and more from the collections of women who are experts at good baking days.
Who better to share their treasured baking recipes with you than the New Zealand women who bake successfully on a regular basis, often using recipes handed down from mother to daughter and passed from friend to friend. In this marvellous compendium of over 500 recipes, it's guaranteed you'll find something to get you cracking eggs, creaming butter and sugar, and filling the tins — to the delight of family, friends, and colleagues.
Ranging from easy to elaborate, and from recipes for big cakes for large crowds to gluten-free baking, there's something here for everyone who likes to bake. Sure to please.


Paul _MoonThe Voyagers: Remarkable European Explorations

Paul Moon
Penguin, $40.00

Well-known historian Paul Moon delivers yet another quality trip back in time to the early days of New Zealand. It's interesting how there were many years of virtual inactivity before the country was eventually recognised for what it was and subsequently settled. In this day of aircraft and cars, it's easy to forget how long it took to travel some distances. One of the stories tells of it taking a day (with some bush hacking along the way) to travel from Auckland to Papakura — a motorway drive of around 25 minutes today, or about one hour if you are in rush hour traffic. The whole book was a great read, and most of the stories were the right length to read at the end of a day before nodding off to sleep.


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