The Readings

A literary links list full of things we think you might like to check out.


Has owning a bookshop ever been a dream of yours? Here are a few for sale that could make your dream a reality. The Bookshelf in Waikanae is a book, gift and lotto shop whose current owners are retiring. Marsden Books in Karori is an integral part of its community, serving as both a bookshop and a NZ Post agent. And the Springvale Bookshop (also a NZ Post agent) in Whanganui is also for sale.

The shortlist for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is out. You can find it here.

The 2020 Eisner Award nominations have also been announced. You can find them here.

And we have one more shortlist to share with you, this time for the 2020 International Booker Prize.

A new collection, Saltwater Love, “create[s] a place for all Indigenous people to send written work that engages with love in its myriad forms and promotes care for one another and the land”. You can read the first issue here.

The following Writers and Publishers were recognised in this year’s Queens Birthday Honours:

To be Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM)

Dr Tessa Duder: For services to literature.
Elizabeth Knox: For services to literature.

To be Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM)

Dr Brian Turner: For services to literature and poetry.
David Ling: For services to the publishing industry.

To be Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM)

Tusiata Avia: For services to poetry and the arts.
Donald Long: For services to literature and education, particularly Pacific language education.
Cilla McQueen: For services as a poet.

You can find a full honours list here.

A Race Relations Reading List

A book list for learning about racial injustice, dismantling white supremacy, and recognizing racism in its many forms.

It’s impossible to deny that something major is happening in the USA at the moment, with the protests in response to the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Police Officers. Marches made it all the way to Aotearoa, with many here thinking about racism and police bias closer to home.

A number of people have seen the need to educate themselves about the history of racism, and how it plays out today in a multitude of ways, sometimes in ways many of us don’t even realise. If you’ve found yourself wanting to learn more about these current events, we’ve put together a list of books that cover all kinds of scenarios. Some are focused on Aotearoa New Zealand, others are focused on the Black American experience, and others still are more general.

If any of these titles interest you, visit your local bookseller to see if they have it in stock, or can order it in for you. They might even be able to recommend some titles we’ve missed!


Aotearoa New Zealand

Lani Wendt Young’s Read NZ Te Pou Muramura lecture from 2019, Stories from the Wild: Reading and Writing in the Digital Age, addresses representation in literature, gatekeeping in the publishing industry and how emerging digital technologies are disrupting traditional publishing and offering new opportunities for both readers and writers.

BWB Texts are short books on big subjects from great New Zealand writers. Many of them look into the ongoing effects of colonialism.

Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History – Atholl Anderson

Hikoi: Forty Years of Maori Protest – Aroha Harris

Working as Allies: Supporters of Indigenous Justice Reflect – Jen Margaret

He Rukuruku Whakaaro: Colonising Myths, Maori Realities – Ani Mikaere

Still Being Punished – Rachael Selby

Decolonising Methodologies – Linda Tuhiwai Smith

Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End – Ranginui Walker



Have Black Lives Ever Mattered? – Mumia Abu-Jamal

Natives – Akala

Colorblindness – Michelle Alexander

The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander

One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying our Democracy – Carol Anderson

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of our Racial Divide – Carol Anderson

Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism – Derrick Bell

Lighting the Fires of Freedom: African American Women in the Civil Rights Movement – Janet Dewart Bell

Things that make White People Uncomfortable – Michael Bennett

A Black Women’s History of the United States – Daina Ramey Berry & Kali Nicole Gross

I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness – Austin Channing Brown

Chokehold: Policing Black Men – Paul Butler

Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLY Cases – ed. Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman

Self Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race – Thomas Chatterton Williams

Between the World and Me – Ta-Nehisi Coates

The Skin We’re In – Desmond Cole

Eloquent Rage – Brittney Cooper

What Truth Sounds Like – Michael Eric Dyson

Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race – Reni Eddo-Lodge

Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves – Glory Edim

Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class – Ian Haney Lopez

Black Feminist Thought – Patricia Hill Collins

How Not To Get Shot – D.L. Hughley

Antagonist, Advocates and Allies: The Wake Up Call Guide for White Women Who Want to Become Allies with Black Women – Catrice M. Jackson

They Were Her Property: White Women as Slave Owners in the American South – Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women White Feminists Forgot – Mikki Kendall

How to be an Antiracist – Ibram X. Kendi

It’s not about the Burqa – ed. Mariam Khan

When they call you a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir – Patrisse Khan-Cullors & Asha Bandele

Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents – Margaret Kimberley

Heavy – Kiese Laymon

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches – Audre Lorde

They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of the Struggle for Black Lives – Wesley Lowery

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack – Peggy McIntosh

On the Other Side of Freedom: Race and Justice in a Divided America – DeRay McKesson

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love and So Much More – Janet Mock

The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys – ed. Eddie Moore Jr., Ali Michael & Marguerite W. Penick-Parks

Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools – Monique Morris

So you want to talk about Race – Ijeoma Oluo

Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America – Patrick Phillips

Stamped – Jason Reynolds & Ibram X. Kendi

Citizen: An American Lyric – Claudia Rankine

Killing the Black Body – Dorothy Roberts

How to Argue with a Racist: History, Science, Race and Reality – Adam Rutherford

Me and White Supremacy – Layla F. Saad

In the Wake: On Blackness and Being – Christina Sharpe

The End of Policing – Alex Vitale

The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race – ed. Jesmyn Ward

Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority – Tim Wise

Other writers who have written extensively about race are Bell Hooks, Angela Davis and James Baldwin. For children, the Little People, Big Dreams series by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara covers the lives of historical figures, including Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks and more. And don’t forget to read fiction and poetry about and by black writers, and writers outside of your culture. What we read helps to shape our world.

The Readings

A literary links list full of things we think you might like to check out.


Exciting news from WORD Christchurch this week, as they announced a grass roots festival to take place from 30 October – 1 November. The festival will have a focus on New Zealand, and particularly Christchurch, writers and readers.

And continuing on the theme of exciting festival news, VERB Wellington have announced the dates for their annual festival, which will be taking place from 6 – 8 November. Spring is shaping up to be an exciting and busy season for the New Zealand literary community!

The Auckland Writers Festival Winter Series just keeps giving! Episode Five livestreams on Sunday 31 May at 9am, and features Richard Ford (USA), food writer and broadcaster Yasmin Khan (England), and Aotearoa New Zealand debut author and intensive care nurse Amy McDaid, hosted as always by Paula Morris.

The Australian Book Industry Awards for 2020 have been announced. You’ll find the list of winners here.

Also announced are the longlists for the Australian Booksellers Association’s 2020 Booksellers’ Choice Book of the Year Awards.

Some of our member booksellers have been featuring in the news lately. Here’s a great piece on Renee Rowland and The Twizel Bookshop.

And The Twizel Bookshop appeared alongside Time Out Book Store and Unity Books Auckland , in an article in The Guardian about New Zealand’s post-Covid books boom.

The Readings

A literary links list full of things we think you might like to check out.


Did you tune in for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards this week? There’s a great write up here.

The Auckland Writers Festival Winter Series continues Sunday 17th May at 9am with a session featuring Chanel Miller (USA), recent Acorn Prize for Fiction winner Becky Manawatu, and Robert Macfarlane (England). Tune in online for what is sure to be fantastic conversation.

Wellington’s City Gallery took it’s Book Club online, with Pip Adam leading Rosabel Tan, Megan Dunn and John Summers in discussions about pandemic themed works, including Stephen Soderbergh’s Contagion, The Plague by Albert Camus, ‘You Treat Us Like We’re the Virus,’ an article by Vanessa Crofskey for The Pantograph Punch, Arundhati Roy’s Financial Times article ‘The Pandemic is a Portal,’ ‘The American Exception,’ by Zadie Smith for The New Yorker, ‘Man reads The Plague during the Plague,’ by John Summers for Newsroom, and Sam Brooks’ piece for The Spinoff, ‘The Highs, the Lows and the WTFs of One World: Together at Home.’

Kei Te Pai Press have launched their first journal centered around the concept of Te Korekore.

Premiering on Sunday 17th May on TVNZ is the adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Award winning The Luminaries. We’re sure many of New Zealand’s literature lovers will be crowding around their TV sets to re-enter the world of 19th Centtury Hokitika and Catton’s spellbinding story.


The Readings

A literary links list full of things we think you might like to check out.


Verb Wellington have launched the Verb Community, a membership community with sliding payment options, set up to support and nurture creativity and community. If you value arts (and who doesn’t?) and want to see artists and writers paid to create content, sign up and contribute. The gorgeous image above was commissioned for the Verb Community from Jessica Thompson Carr, aka Māori Mermaid.

Tupuranga Journal has launched it’s first issue, full of incredible writing by Indigenous and POC writers from Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa.

Paula Green invited New Zealand Booksellers (and even a couple of us here at Booksellers NZ!) to contribute to a list of comfort books over on Poetry Shelf. It’s a beautifully varied list, and a great source if you’re after a steady and calming to read, as so many of us are right now.

Don’t forget that you can attend the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards this year, right from the comfort of your own living room! All you have to do is tune in via Facebook or YouTube at 6pm on Tuesday May 12. See you there!

The Auckland Writers Festival are hosting an online 2020 Winter Series at 9am on Sundays. To tune in to the livestreams head to their Facebook or YouTube pages. And if 9am on a Sunday is a little early for you, the sessions will be uploaded to the AWF website. The next session on Sunday 10 May features Philippe Sands, Ian Wedde and Lisa Taddeo in conversation with Paula Morris.

The Pantograph Punch has had a redesign, and it’s looking gorgeous. Check out the lush new look, and the reasoning behind it, here.



Bubble Burst Book List: Emily Writes

We’re sneaking ever closer to bookshops being able to deliver more than just the government mandated essentials. Many are already taking online orders in preparation for the shift to level 3 next week. Today we have Emily Writes sharing her extensive Bubble Burst Book List with us.

Emily Writes is a mum of two and author of the bestselling Rants in the Dark and the parenting collection Is it bedtime yet?  Rants in the Dark was recently made into a play that toured New Zealand. Emily is a columnist with The Spinoff.


Head Girl by Freya Daly Sadgrove (Victoria University Press)

I just bought this today online at The Twizel Bookshop and I’m so excited. I saw Freya Daly Sadgrove read from her debut collection at a charity event and I was absolutely hooked. Fangirl for life! But then Covid-19 happened and I’ve had no way to get Head Girl. I’m going to be waiting by my mailbox when we hit level three! I’m not a poet myself but I love to read poetry and I’m starting to get a good collection. Freya’s reading from Head Girl made me laugh and almost cry within seconds and I love work that moves me to that level. She’s going to be huge I just feel it in my waters.

Southern Nights by Naomi Arnold (Harper Collins)

Not a day goes by that I haven’t wished I’d bought this book before lockdown! But I’m looking forward to my local Unity Books opening so that I can buy this one from there and start star gazing with my children. I’ve heard so many great things about this book and the way Naomi Arnold writes about the traditional stargazers and Te Whanau Marama, our family of light. I would read anything she writes (so I hope she never writes Gareth Morgan’s biography) she is such a powerhouse writer. There’s so much heart and passion in her writing no matter what the subject is. I also felt like I followed her writing this book through Instagram so I feel very invested!

Taking the Lead by David Hill and Phoebe Morris (Penguin Random House)

I’m about to order this one online at The Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirnie. My children are huge fans of this series on New Zealand leaders and adventurers. We already have First to the Top about Sir Edmund Hillary, Speed King about Burt Munro, and Jean Batten’s Sky High. We just need Sir Peter Blake’s Hero of the Sea and the Joan Wiffen story Dinosaur Hunter. But since my boys are both Jacinda Ardern superfans I thought I’d buy this one and save my pennies for the other two. My little ones love inspiring stories of real people and Jacinda Ardern’s story is a lovely message for kids in lockdown.

Auē by Becky Manawatu (Mākaro Press)

I have severe FOMO because everyone is talking about this book. I need it. I want it. I must have it. Becky Manawatu is incredible and I can’t wait to read her novel Auē. It’s the first novel from the Westport journalist and if you’ve read anything she’s written you’ll know how good it will be. I really trust Catherine Woulfe (The Spinoff Books’ Editor) as a reviewer and she has raved about it, calling Becky Manawatu’s writing “wild, intuitive sort of magic”. I could not agree more with that description so I’ll be buying this one online at Scorpio Books in Christchurch when I’ve got some cash!

Nothing to See by Pip Adam (Victoria University Press)

It’s not even out yet but I am So! Excited! Basically all the exclamation marks. I’ve heard Pip read from Nothing to See a few times and I know it’s going to be a masterpiece. I’m a Pip Adam superfan and I just cannot wait. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited for a book. Can you believe it comes out on my birthday? Can you believe?! I’ve already pre-ordered and you can too.

Politics in the Playground by Helen May (Otago University Press)

The third edition of Politics in the Playground: The world of early childhood in Aotearoa New Zealand tells the story of early childhood education and care in Aotearoa. Helen May used to be the Dean of the University of Otago College of Education but probably more importantly – she’s worked as an ECE teacher, a primary teacher and a secondary teacher. She helped create Te Whāriki the ECE curriculum. This is a must-have for nerds obsessed with ECE and teaching politics.

The Goddess Muscle by Karlo Mila (Huia)

If I’m allowed to include another not-yet released book I have to include Karlo Mila’s The Goddess Muscle due on 31 July. This is Karlo Mila’s third book of poetry after the incredible and award-winning Dream Fish Floating and A Well Written Body. Karlo Mila’s writing is something you feel all through your body as you read. It feels like it touches every part of you. I don’t know where it will be published but I assume it will be through her original publishers Huia and as soon as it’s on pre-order I’m getting it.

I am a Human Being by Jackson Nieuwland (Compound Press)

There are just too many great books coming out in June. I have to include one more. Jackson Nieuwland’s debut collection I Am A Human Being. It’s available on pre-order now and I’m very excited. Jackson is easily one of the most exciting poets out there. I’ve had the privilege of being on a panel with them and I am so excited every time I see a new poem of theirs online. In the meantime while you wait, read this incredible essay and tell me this isn’t the most stunning and important writing you’ve read in forever. Talking about the writing of one of my most absolute favourite poets (and favourite humans actually) Chris Tse, Jackson said “Putting this kind of work out into the world takes a lot of bravery.” They’re so right and that bravery will change the world.

Bubble Burst Book List: David Eggleton

Today’s Bubble Burst Book List comes courtesy of Poet Laureate David Eggleton. 

David Eggleton is a past recipient of a Janet Frame Literary Trust Award, an Ockham New Zealand Book Award, and the Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry. His two most recent poetry publications are SNAP, a limited-edition collaboration with artist Nigel Brown and printer John Holmes for the Otakou Press, and Edgeland and other poems, published by Otago University Press in 2018. An arts critic and a book reviewer, he is the current New Zealand Poet Laureate.


Time hangs heavy in these perforce largely sedentary times, sequestered in an iso-bubble, and one reads in marathon bouts, able to tackle at last the monumental novels on the teetering coffee table stack, from Richard Powers’ The Overstory (Vintage), an eco-warrior narrative, to Neal Stephenson’s weird mega-riffs on bio-technology and myth in Fall or, Dodge in Hell (HarperCollins). But eventually one longs for something new to read smacking of the local, and to this end I can barely wait to be able to go back into an actual bookstore and browse, skimming my eye across the neatly assembled new releases and dipping in and out of promising titles before making some hard choices.

To this end, Dunedin’s University Book Shop is ideal for my typically dilatory and roundabout approach to catching up on New Zealand books that have been out for a few months and that I was slowly but steadily making my way towards.

For me these books include Peter Simpson’s Is This the Promised Land? (Auckland University Press), Volume Two of his thorough-going study of Colin McCahon, which I am eager to place alongside my copy of the first volume Colin McCahon: There Is Only One Direction 1917 -1959, purchased from University Book Shop last year.

Also still catching up with last year, I want to get hold of Gregory O’Brien’s Always Song in the Water (Auckland University Press), a sequence of essayistic journeys and discoveries in the form of an oceanic epic, which is partly his account of personal consciousness-raising about where exactly we are at this moment in time in the South Pacific, and the unmooring of the great waka of Aotearoa and its launching out into the wider Moana.

I am also keen to read the second volume of Witi Ihimaera’s memoir Native Son (Penguin Books). While its title echoes that of Richard Wright’s classic Native Son, a harrowing novel of deterministic black oppression in Depression-era Chicago, it is a story  which I hope will help illuminate the state of race relations in New Zealand in the middle years of the twentieth century.

A newish collection of poetry that I would like to track down as soon as the lockdown lifts or permits is Jenny Bornholdt’s Lost and Somewhere Else (Victoria University Press), Which I gather is mostly explorations and epiphanies through the landscape and seasons of Central Otago, seen with fresh eyes when the Wellington-based writer was living in Alexandra for a year.


The Readings

Kia ora, and welcome to The Readings, a literary links list full of things we think you might like to check out.

garage project

Our friends at ReadNZ have launched two fantastic new projects. Blokes vs. Books promotes kiwi men as readers. It sees playwright Victor Rodger in conversation with brewers, pizza barons, politicians, Shortland Street actors and more about the role books and reading have played in their lives.

And for younger members of your household, there’s the Stay Home Book Club, a reading challenge where kids aged between 5 and 14 sign up to a team and earn points by logging the books they’ve read or listened to. Booksellers Tokens are up for grabs as prizes.

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards were scheduled to take place on Tuesday 12 May. Good news: they still will! The format for this year’s ceremony will be a little different than usual, with the announcements being made online rather than in Auckland. A YouTube channel has been set up for the occasion, and you can subscribe now. The channel is also hosting a series of finalist author readings in the weeks leading up to the winners’ announcements.

Poets Sinead Overbye and Jordan Hamel have created Stasis Journal: an online literary journal for these static times. Their kaupapa is to provide a paid platform for all kinds of writing, digital and visual art that is being produced during the current rāhui. Submissions are open, and new work will be published every weekday.

Oscen Magazine are hosting The Unlockdown: a free 3-day mini online festival where you can “unlock” your creativity and join engaging conversations. The festival runs from 18-20 April, and features a range of creative happenings that participants can take part in.

The Pantograph Punch have also been hosting an online festival on their instagram page. The next session takes place at 2pm on Saturday 18 April, and features comedians Rose Matafeo and Alice Snedden.

If you want excellent creative prompts each day, look no further than Satellites’ Lockdown Advent Calendar. Each day of lockdown they share a creative exercise as well as a piece of writing from a different creative. has a collection of fresh new writing by some of Aotearoa’s most talented scribes, in it’s Notes from Self-Isolation series.

If you enjoy the work of Sarah Laing, you’ll love The COVID-19 Diaries; sketches of daily life during a pandemic that the writer and illustrator is posting on her blog, Let Me Be Frank.

We know the readers of New Zealand are dearly missing browsing the new release shelves at their local bookshop. The brilliant gang at Victoria University Press have come up with a nifty – and generous – solution to your cravings. They’ve put together a sampler featuring extracts from their newest published books, and plenty of pieces from as yet unreleased titles. You can access The VUP Home Reader for free here.

Small press Bitter Melon, run by Nina Mingya Powles, has been publishing Stay Home Diary: an online archive of diary entries by Asian writers, artists & zinemakers.

And don’t forget, even though their doors may be closed, your local bookshop are still there for you. Check out their social media pages and you’ll find an online community of creative booklovers, getting inventive with how to share their love of literature in these strange days.

Happy reading!

Bubble Burst Book List: Gavin Bishop

We’ve got another Bubble Burst Book List to share with you today, this time from author and illustrator Gavin Bishop.

Gavin Bishop is the creator of more than 70 books. Among the numerous fellowships and book prizes throughout his career, highlights include the Margaret Mahy Award for Services to NZ Children’s Literature (2000), an honorary doctorate from the University of Canterbury (2016), the Te Waka Toi Nga Tohu a Ta Kingi Ihaka / Sir Kingi Ihaka Award for services to Maori art and culture (2018), the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement (2019) and he was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit in 2013.

gavin bishop

Te Hei Tiki by Dougal Austin, published by Te Papa Press.

I already have a copy of this book but I want another to send to a friend in the USA. I have read most of the text and have perused the illustrations admiring the terrific range of old and new tiki. Some of the designs by artists such as Lewis Gardiner and Joel Masters show the innovative ways that a traditional formula can be taken in new and exciting directions.

This book also has significant meaning for me because one of the artists, Phil Blecher, who works using traditional methods and techniques for carving stone, is an ex-student of mine from the days I taught high school art 25 years ago. I am proud to say I have some of his early pieces in my collection. He taonga enei.

Merchant, Miner, Mandarin – The Life and Times of the Remarkable Choie Sew Hoy by Jenny Sew Hoy Agnew and Trevor Agnew, published by Canterbury University Press.

This was written by two friends of mine who are great supporters of New Zealand literature and children’s literature in particular. Jenny is a Sew Hoy, from the well-known Chinese family who have for many generations lived and worked in Dunedin. As a child from Invercargill I remember the name of Sew Hoy above the doors of shops when we visited Dunedin during the school holidays. The launch of this book has been held up because of the Covid pandemic, but I are hoping to see it in the shops sometime in June.

Greenery: Journeys in Springtime by Tim Dee, published by Penguin NZ.

I only know of this book through a couple of reviews but it sounds like the sort of book we should be reading at the moment when the natural world that we constantly abuse has been give a few weeks rest from our onslaught. Bird song has increased, the rustling of leaves in the wind is no longer drowned out by the sound traffic and in the north of India the Himalayas can be seen on the horizon once more.

The author, Tim Dee follows the paths of migratory birds from South Africa to Scandinavia and later watches the progress of Spring across Britain. As an elderly father Dee wrote this book for his young son and as one reviewer noted, “It is a lesson in how to love the world, in how to look at it, and behind everything there beats a deeper message: that spring cannot exist without winter, that life needs death to define it.”

Book Review: Jacinda Ardern: A new kind of leader, by Madeleine Chapman

Jacinda Ardern A New Kind Of LeaderIt was a tweet that prompted me to buy Jacinda Ardern: A New Kind of Leader. On her twitter account in late March, author Madeleine Chapman wrote: “I was worried something big would happen between this going to print and it being on shelves and guess what? The biggest thing happened!!”

I felt a pang of empathy. Writing a topical book must be tricky in the best of circumstances. But who could’ve foreseen yet another crisis interrupting Jacinda’s first term as prime minister?

Delving into the book, I was reminded that dramatic turns and unexpected events have been par for the course. Reading whilst in a lockdown fugue, it seems almost absurd that so many things happened so fast during that election period of 2017. The tepid campaigning disrupted by Labour’s last minute switch of leader. The jolt of excitement and hope as Jacindamania took hold across the country. The votes neck and neck. The limbo of waiting for Winston Peters to make his call (“the political Bachelor, idly twirling his final rose” as Chapman so perfectly puts it).

And then, elected within just a few months of stepping into the spotlight, Jacinda went on to face unprecedented challenges as prime minister – not to mention she had a baby in the midst of it all too.

Jacinda Ardern: A New Kind of Leader manages to contextualise these significant events while also providing the perspective of anecdotal insights. (I cannot shake the image of the Tawa Rotary Club gleefully presenting Jacinda with a birthday cake boobytrapped with a blue interior beneath its icing.)

This balance of personable and political is entertaining to read and even evokes the affable appeal of Jacinda herself. I admire Chapman’s skill at weaving a compelling narrative from the dry policy work and petty interactions that make up much of the political world. Her tone throughout the book is irreverent and at times very funny, more reflective of modern day blogging than a staid biographical tome. It will make an ideal gift for your overseas aunty who texted you to celebrate girl power when she first heard Jacinda was elected.

After a prologue set on the day of Winston Peter’s coalition announcement, Jacinda Ardern: A New Kind of Leader takes a chronological path through an unconventional career. We follow Jacinda’s progression from Mormon schoolgirl, to uni grad on her OE, to President of the International Union of Socialist Youth, to backbencher MP, to global celebrity fawned over by international media. Themes emerge throughout the chapters. Some due to the repetition of phrases such as “not cool but not uncool”. Others as we see Jacinda’s pragmatic decision making in action. 

A long chapter is devoted to the terror events of 15 March 2019 and its aftermath. It’s a difficult read. But it reinforces why Jacinda’s approach to leadership and service is so important. A prime minister who could demonstrate that kindness is a strength, not a weakness, was exactly what New Zealand needed in those times. And, regardless of publishing deadlines, the book leaves you with the impression that it’s what New Zealand will need in its next chapter too.

Reviewed by Annabel Henderson Morrell

Jacinda Ardern: A new kind of leader
by Madeleine Chapman
Black Inc Books
ISBN 9781760641818