Book Review: Christchurch Ruptures, by Katie Pickles

Available now in bookshops nationwide.

cv_christchurch_rupturesThe Christchurch earthquakes were a devastating physical phenomena which have continued to cause upheaval across Canterbury to this day. While we are all familiar with the land and buildings being forever changed by this process, we are less conscious of the implications for history and society.

Katie Pickles is a History lecturer at the University of Canterbury. In this short BWB text, she looks beneath the surface at the long term implications of the quakes on the perceived image of Christchurch. To do this adequately, she first explores the history of the city. This includes Maori settlement, the European arrivals, education, transport, architecture and many more aspects which helped mould the city prior to the quakes. In itself, this is a fascinating read showing the radical feminist groups, the artists who saw Christchurch as the centre of innovation and the educational experiments in early communes.

Her in-depth analysis then shows the impact of the earthquakes on the future image of the city. With the loss of so many of the colonial landmarks, it has become possible to reclaim the sites and landforms which pre-dated European settlement. To this end, she dwells on the part Ngai Tahu are playing in the establishment of areas of interest, names and purposes of certain sites.

I found the 170 pages a deep but satisfying read. While I might not agree with all of her conclusions I can follow the arguments and appreciated the accessibility of this pocket history of Christchurch. It has stimulated much discussion among Christchurch residents and it will be interesting to see if her predictions unfold. I would suggest this as a great book club read. The debates would be lively.

While we are still repairing the cracks, sinking foundations and rattled nerves, we are also excited to watch the new city rise from the rupture.

Reviewed by Kathy Watson (Christchurch resident)

Christchurch Ruptures
by Katie Pickles
Published by Bridget Williams Books
ISBN 9780908321292

Book review: The Giant of Lake Wakatipu written and illustrated by Peter Gossage

This book is in bookstores now.

The arrival of this book for me to review couldn’t have come at a better time. I was flying the next day to Queenstown to spend a few days with my eldest daughter and her four children, who are of Ngai Tahu descent.

Sitting in my daughter’s lounge looking through the large picture window at the Remarkables mountain range and reading this rather lovely version of this Maori legend, to two of my granddaughters, Eden (5 1/2 years) and Isabelle (11 years) felt pretty special. Beautifully illustrated, the story made a huge impression on Eden. A long discussion followed with Eden retelling the story to me, while looking at the pictures.

The story follows Manata, a beautiful young woman who goes missing from her village. The people search everywhere for her. Manata’s lover Matakauri then sets off to try and rescue her after he discovers she has been kidnapped by Matau, the giant, who lives in the snow capped mountains.

This is a beautiful book with fabulous illustrations and would make a wonderful gift. This book is suitable for children six months right through to children being read to or reading it for themselves. Matakauri knows that his village will not be safe until the giant is dead.

Highly recommended

Reviewed by Christine Frayling

The Giant of Lake Wakatipu
Written and illustrated by Peter Gossage
Published by Puffin
ISBN  9780143505600