Book Review: Wild Westie – The Incredible Life of Bob Harvey, by Hazel Phillips

This book is available now in bookstores nationwide. 

The original Wild Westie was in fact born and raised in Newton cv_wild_westieGully in Auckland. The circumstances of his actual birth were unknown to Bob himself until 1990, when all was revealed, which was a devastating blow to him at the time. This blow came though as Harvey could only look back on a life that had been lived at full throttle, and with a panache that gave him a kind of benediction.The way he had lived his life made him the object of much love and support, but equally made him the object of derision and dislike.

Living in the Gully, where in fact my mother was raised, was hard scrabble, but filled with experiences that gave Harvey a thirst for a life that was much bigger than the average. Ambitious, driven, talented, good-looking, Bob Harvey wanted to make something of his life, of his youth, of his vision and with hard work, good luck and tenacity, he did.

Advertising, politics, entertainment, sport, surf life saving, celebrities, family…nothing was untouched and in the area of advertising in particular, Harvey really was the man. Hip and in touch, Harvey and his cohorts brought the big America ideas to quiet old New Zealand and changed everything, a pattern Harvey would use throughout his life to advance both his and his Waitakere City ambitions.

He was conversely a family man, generous, kind and very down to earth, even when he was surrounded by the rich, the famous and the somewhat notorious. Phillips has done a great job, the book is well written, therefore readable, and it’s a great little history of a time, a place and a man who sat in the centre of much that impacted long term on this part of Auckland.

This book adds much to the history of West Auckland and it documents in a very accessible way the life of one of the real builders of the modern ‘Out West’. A great read.

Reviewed by Marion Dreadon

Wild Westie: The incredible life of Bob Harvey
by Hazel Phillips
Published by Penguin Books NZ
ISBN 9780143569770