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Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 7
Old Christchurch recalled
Remembering Christchurch: Voices
from Decades Past
Alison Parr with the Ministry for
Culture and Heritage
Penguin Random House
Christchurch was devastated by two
large earthquakes in September 2010
and February 2011 and as a result
the cityscape was destroyed beyond
recognition, a sight even Coasters find
hard to comprehend.
In this publication a number of older
citizens who have lived and worked in
Christchurch share their most precious
memories of a city they have loved for
decades and in some cases a lifetime.
Alison Parr and her colleague
Rosemary Baird visited 19 people in
Christchurch from all walks of life and
the resulting book is their stories which
paint a vivid picture of an old English
style architectured city as it was prior to
these large seismic events.
The inter viewees were born in the
1920s, 30s and 40s and some will, dare
we say it, most likely not see the all
new Christchurch completed, but their
memories of the old city and its streets,
shops and churches, pubs, dance halls
and the tearooms and early city life will
remain forever in written word for now
and future generations to enjoy.
Among those inter viewed are three
ex-Coasters who grew up in the older
Christchurch city. A number of locals
will probably know or remember these
Jim Curnow, was born in
Greymouth and in 1960 he and his
family moved to Christchurch, where
they ran one of the city’s best known
tearooms The Dainty Inn in High
Street. An amazing story in relation to
his daily life running this very popular
tearooms and milk bar.
Joan Lydon was born in Hokitika.
She and husband built their first home
in Dallington in the early 1950s. Her
house was able to be repaired after the
earthquake, unlike the homes across the
street which all had to be demolished.
Reg Miller was born in Greymouth.
He worked in his father’s business,
Millers. Reg’s father travelled back
and forth to Christchurch to deal with
wholesalers before moving when his
family sold his building in Greymouth
and started retailing in Lichfield Street.
The local content helps make for an
interesting read in this book.
This is a publication that gives an
inside look into family life and some
history of the Garden City prior to the
earthquakes that almost completely
There are a number of older black
and white photographs showing the
cityscape in earlier times with some
later colour photos interspersed
Parr is the senior oral historian at the
Ministry for Cultural and Heritage in
Wellington and has been in radio and
television for 25 years, and a journalist
and inter viewer. She also has written
four other publications which involve
New Zealand history.
This is n interesting book and one that
could be a quiet read while sitting by
the fire at night.
Reviewed by Rod Perrin-Smith
The Man Who Saved Smithy
Allen and Unwin
This is an excellent biography about a
little-known Australian, who, because
of his exploits on the world stage,
should be much more well known and
Rick Searle writes in great detail
about Sir Gordon Taylor, “fighter
pilot, pioneer aviator, hero”. Taylor and
Charles Kingsford Smith formed an
exceptional partnership, making the
first commercial mail flight to New
Zealand, the forst crossing of the Pacific
in a single-engined aircraft and setting
records around the world.
In particular he retells the story of
the daring action in which he saved
Kingsford Smith, John Stannage
and himself in the stricken Southern
Cross in May 1935. On a dark night,
with a howling slipstream, Taylor
repeatedly climbed out on to the wing
and transferred oil from one engine
to another, enabling them return to
Sydney and land safely.
He had won the Military Cross in
World War One, and was awarded
the George Cross for his outstanding
bravery. From the rudimentary training
in learning how to fly, Sir Gordon
Taylor (known as Bill) became the best
known aviator in Australia his well
earned knighthood was given for his
ser vices to flight.
After the deaths of his close friends
Charles Ulm and Kingsford Smith in
separate accidents, Taylor went on to
prove an alternative air route to Europe
that avoided South-east Asia. He flew
many pioneering flights, both privately
and for the Australian government,
across the Pacific. He was knighted
for his ser vices to Australia and world
aviation in 1954.
Taylor died in 1966. Searle obtained
permission of the family to use Taylor’s
published and unpublished material to
enhance this biography. The result is
Reviewed by Gavin Riley
The long and winding roads . . .
Wild Roads: A New Zealand
In Bruce Ansley ’s latest (and
eighth) book, the reader is taken
on a journey along some of
New Zealand’s more dangerous,
notorious, remote and remarkable
From coast-hugging highways
to high alpine passes, from
familiar main roads to almost
unknown back-county roads, these
thoroughfares are part of life for
many across the nation. The book
features 60 of what Ansley calls
the country’s wildest routes. The
author, an experienced motorist,
finds these roads often a pleasure
to drive on; at other times he says
they can be unpredictable, exposed
The author puts the roads in
eight classifications including high
roads, low roads, slow roads, long
and winding roads and roads to
somewhere. Only one urban road
makes the cut: K (Karangahape)
Road, in Auckland.
Colourful descriptions are
matched with some stunning
photos of the roads and
surroundings, along with historical
As the author says, this is not a
guide or a history. It is a story of
the country’s roads and, through
them, other stories of regions, of
towns, of people, which highlight
this is a nation of contrasts. Ansley
has chosen these highways and
byways not just because they are
wild, but because they are beautiful
or lonely or interesting. The author
has driven over them all — most
are accessible by the average
car, with only a few demanding
something more capable.
Ansley, who is currently living
on Waiheke Island, suggests we
take some of the more indirect
and mysterious routes when we
next travel — the high roads, long
and winding roads, slow roads,
low roads, by-roads, roads to
somewhere and roads to nowhere.
Reviewed by Gavin Riley
Craft beer guide book
Brewed — a Guide to the Craft Beer of New
Jules van Cruysen
Potton and Burton
Every year just before Christmas you find a new
guide to the wineries of New Zealand. Now it is beer!
Here is the first guide to the beers and breweries of
our productive land. Here are the touring maps to
find the craft beers and taste them in Christchurch,
Nelson, Wellington and Auckland. There are chapters
on the ingredients, the styles, food matching and how
In the fast evolving craft brewing industry this book
is very up to date. The date is January 1, 2015 for
the detailed profiles of 140 breweries and brewing
companies including the tasting notes on 400 beers
and 15 ciders. An industry which has been growing
at 10% a year is hard to keep up with. There are new
beers starting and others being dropped all the time.
Jules van Cruysen does a great job negotiating the
‘ larger than life characters, obsessives, loveable rogues
and mad scientists’ who make the New Zealand craft
beers compare well with the rest of the world’s beers.
Reviewed by Roger Ewer
Go Set a Watchman
Go Set a Watchman is just the second
novel from Harper Lee, whose 1960
book To Kill a Mockingbird is one of
the best selling in the world.
Although publicised as a sequel, it is
actually the first draft of the Pulitzer
Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird.
Mockingbird (for those who have not
read it) is an enchanting look at the
American south in the 1930s, and the
trial of a black man for rape.
By viewing the segregated south
through the innocent eyes of a child,
Scout, she penned the most read book
on race, and created a hero in lawyer
Watchman strips away the feel-good
haze. Atticus, it transpires, is racist.
The novel follows Scout, now in her
20s and living in New York, as she
travels from New York to the fictional
town of Maycomb, Alabama, to visit
her family. After finding a racist leaflet
among her father’s papers, she follows
him to a meeting where he introduces
to the group of assembled men an
aggressively racist speech.
Reviews of this book have been
cautious. Many top newspapers felt
the text read like an early draft, which
needed editing. And without doubt, it
has turned the world of Mockingbird
fans upside down.
Watchman has no developed black
characters, and there are just glimpses
of the southern charm of Mockingbird
(think Boo Radley).
Scout has come of age and her father
is no longer a hero, but a man, flawed
and human. It is a more complex look
at racial tensions in America.
If you have never read Mockingbird,
start there. If you are a Mockingbird
fan, the lure is almost irresistible, but
The novel is fairly short, and can be
consumed in a few rather unner ving
Whether it comes to hold a place in
American hearts remains to be seen.
Reviewed by Laura Mills
Coast setting for novel
The Alo Release — A Genetic
The Alo Release, by New Zealand
journalist Geoff Mein writing under a
pen name, is a romp through the wild
landscapes of the West Coast.
The thriller starts in the mighty
US of A, before the release of a
genetically modified seed coating set to
make star vation history.
It triggers a frantic manhunt across
the Pacific to New Zealand, as the
corporation’s security chief tries to
track down an IT adviser, an American
biologist and a New Zealand eco-
warrior who threaten its worldwide
From Auckland, the fugitives move
down the country, landing by boat
The action for part of the book then
focuses on Ross, and the labyrinth of
mining tunnels under the goldmining
The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival
features, before they take to the hills
to try to cross the mountains to
The Alo Release is a fairly fast-
paced thriller. It does best when in
New Zealand landscapes. The parts
on the West Coast are a mix of the
real (Gibson Street in Ross) and the
made-up (references to the big 1977
The international backdrop is
needlessly complicated. Too many
characters come and go, and the plot
gets convoluted. Simpler would have
been more effective.
Like many thrillers, you need to
suspend disbelief for a while. It is hard
to believe almost the entire world would
be so excited by a corporation’s release
of a GE coating. In a brave new world
of social media, where dissent can easily
gain ground, it seems all the more
There are other flaws — why does such
an incredibly wealthy company send just
one security chief after the trio?
Best not think too much. Sit back, and
enjoy a thriller set in New Zealand.
It is a pacey read, and the final chase
over the mountains will have you
holding your breath.
The Alo Release is available as an
e-book on Amazon, iBooks and Kobo,
as well as others or you can purchase
the paperback from
Reviewed by Laura Mills
The Greymouth Star has a stunning new book which brings together an
amazing collection of New Zealand postcards, to give away.
Post Marks retails for $69.99 and offers a unique inside into the West Coast
and New Zealand’s rich history.
It includes more than 500 postcards from 1897 to 1922, many of them so rare
they may be the only sur viving examples of this early and formative period of
the nation’s history.
Many works by these early photographers have had little or no exposure to the
public since the time of their production.
To win a copy, send your name, address and daytime phone number to:
C/- Greymouth Star
3 Werita Street, Greymouth
or e-mail email@example.com with ‘Post Marks’ in the subject line.
Strictly one entry per household, entries close on October 29.
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