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What's New McNab

Malcolm Deans, Senior Library Assistant, Heritage Department —

The latest in the New Zealand collection.

The Big Smoke : New Zealand Cities, 1840-1920. Ben Schrader
By 1911 the majority of New Zealand’s population were living in urban areas, cities and boroughs, as opposed to rural counties. The process of urbanisation in New Zealand has been relatively neglected and Schrader’s book is a welcome addition to fill the gap in the historiography. This looks like a fascinating social history with lots of fantastic photographs and illustrations.

The Burning Hours. Kushana Bush
The burning hours was Bush’s first major solo show, held at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery earlier this year. It features new work on a larger scale than anything Bush has attempted before. This is a beautiful accompanying publication to Bush’s exquisite work featuring essays from Lauren Gutsall, Justin Paton and Heather Galbraith.

The Grand Electrification of the South: A History of the Power Company Limited and its Predecessors, the Southland Electric Power Board and the Southland Electric Power Supply (1914-2015). Gay Buckingham.
Buckingham relates the story of the world’s first electric power board, officially founded in 1919 by the Southland League, that would see the majority of the province receive cheap electrical power by 1925, an incredible achievement and testimony to the ambition, energy and egalitarianism of the people of Southland.

Hit & Run: The New Zealand SAS in Afghanistan and The Meaning of Honour. Nicky Hagar and Jon Stephenson.
Without the work of respected investigative journalists Hagar and Stephenson we would have a much poorer understanding of exactly what New Zealand armed forces have been doing in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Does the evidence presented in Hit & Run justify the need for an independent inquiry? Read it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Mad Skillz for the Demon Operators. Victor Billot.
Local poet, modern art critic, and erstwhile candidate for the Alliance Party, Billot has recently released three collections of his poetry, Mad Skillz being the first. Billot makes brilliantly wry and trenchant observations of our contemporary political culture and its mediation by pop culture and social media. Some of the poems are tinged with sadness for the passing of an older, more egalitarian society but they never pass over into sentimentality.

Roll on the Revolution… But Not Till After Xmas!: Selected Feminist Writing. Margot Roth.
Prominent New Zealand feminist, Margot Roth started her writing career as a journalist in the 1940s, before writing for Broadsheet, establishing the Women’s Studies Association and becoming a foundation editor of the Women’s Studies Journal in 1984. This is a collection put together by a group of her fans, The Margot Collective, of over 70 years of her wit and wisdom.

The Stolen Island: Searching for ‘Ata. Scott Hamilton.
This is one of the latest in Bridget Williams Books’ great ‘short books on big subjects’ series that has been successful in creating lively public intellectual debate. Independent historian, Scott Hamilton, has researched the almost forgotten story of slave labour in the South Pacific and in this book he tells the story of the islanders of tiny Tongan island ‘Ata, kidnapped in 1863 by whaler captain Thomas McGrath to sell as plantation slaves in Peru. Hamilton’s narrative draws on his own experiences visiting Tonga which he successfully weaves into a compelling whole.