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'Da C@ S@ on Da M@'
A New Year sampler: The world of books and reading
By Rachel O'Neill

The Kobo e-reader made an appearance on the TV series The Office last week like an inevitable treat; after all, reading habits are changing and so are popular representations of reading. On a slightly different note, I was heartily cheered by a piece in The Guardian reporting that library users took out their full allowance of books in a campaign to keep their local branch open. The library was cleaned out, shelves left desolate, and all in protest of impending budget cuts affecting libraries across England, cuts that could force many branches to close.

The Ministry of Education’s 'Txting to m-Learn' pilot programme also popped up on my reading radar last week. The programme, in a somewhat revolutionary capacity, uses students' ubiquitous attachment to mobile phones to get them learning through the sending and receiving of interactive study notes and self-generated videos.

My uncle and I had talked about this over the holidays. He’d been at a school fundraiser and a teacher had talked to him about how she'd used texting in a classroom literacy project. In spite of her enthusiasm, my uncle wasn't convinced; wouldn’t it just encourage poor spelling and the notion that it’s possible to communicate meaningfully in under a sentence? When he asked me what I thought, the well-known phrase ‘the cat sat on the mat’ jumped into my head and emerged in text-speak as ‘Da C@ S@ on Da M@’. Still, while no expert on the subject, I did suggest that a lot of students respond to tasks that are interactive and creative.

In fact, Howick Social Science teacher Nathan Kerr, a major force behind 'Txting to m-Learn', was quoted in a New Zealand Education Review article (November 2010) on the programme pilot as saying ‘a mobile phone is the communications equivalent of the Swiss Army knife for most young people’. Students have mobile learning habits, he went on to say, and it makes sense to use this to advantage.

The Book Council has been running education programmes for over 30 years and it is with great interest that we observe the arrival of new approaches to reading and literacy. Perhaps in the near future our newly launched Creative Coaching writer residencies will incorporate mobile learning. Writers work with schools to undertake longer-term literacy projects, with follow up Skype sessions and email between author and students to guide the project through to completion. A digital legacy component is also being coordinated by CORE Education so that ‘digital stories’ are captured of exemplary residencies. These ‘digital stories’ show writers working with students, reading from their work, as well as interviews and examples of the projects. These digital resources will be made available free to all New Zealand schools through TKI - Te Pātaka Matihiko– Digistore.

Will the next generation be able to recite verse in a way that surprises us? After all, the Scottish Government has just launched a free iPhone application which contains the complete works of the Bard, Robert Burns, with a searchable database of more than 550 poems and songs. I say, keep an eye on your phones; the future recital may just be via a text or two.

Five Easy Questions with Paul Diamond

The Book Council recently welcomed three new members to its board: John Allen, Kevin Chapman and Paul Diamond. This month we ask Paul Diamond 5 Easy Questions about his bookish interests.

1. What books do you have lined up to read at the moment?
I’ve been enjoying 40 A Doonesbury Retrospective, a behemoth of a book: 695 pages, weighing in at 10½ kg. Since Doonesbury first appeared in 1970, there have been more than 14,000 published strips.  This book includes just 13 per cent of them, together with new essays by Garry Trudeau about the strip and Mike Doonesbury et al. AND a fold-out wiring diagram showing how the various characters are connected. Bliss for a Doonesbury junkie.

2. What is the strangest or most puzzling book you can remember reading?
I’m writing a book about Charles Mackay, who was mayor of Whanganui for nearly 13 years, until 1920 when he shot the writer D’Arcy Cresswell, who was blackmailing the (secretly homosexual) mayor. After six years in prison, Mackay left New Zealand for Europe, where he worked as a journalist and English-language teacher. In 1929 he was fatally shot by a German policeman while covering a riot in Berlin for a British newspaper.

While in prison, Mackay read the Inferno by Dante Alighieri, the first of three volumes of the Divina Commedia, a work I’ve often heard about but never tackled. The Wellington City Library has an 1893 edition of the English translation Mackay read, with haunting illustrations by Gustave Doré.  It’s unlike anything I’ve ever come across, and I’m beginning to see why it has enthralled readers for so long.

3. Do you always finish a book even if you're not engaged by it?
Generally, yes. I have the same policy for films, plays and concerts. It’s reminiscent of something the late Barry Barclay wrote about hui: ‘The crucial thing about hui is that you should be present. You should be present right through. That way you will have truly been part of the age-old community process that makes hui such a powerful instrument.’

4. Do you like to read and/or listen to poems and stories? Do any memorable performances or readings come to mind?
Yes, it’s a different experience to hear a poem or story read. Poetry features strongly in Laurie Anderson’s work. One of her albums, The Ugly One with the Jewels, is spoken word, and I saw the 2000 show Songs and Stories From Moby Dick – inspired by Melville’s epic novel. Over Summer I’ve been enjoying her latest album, Homeland, a meditation on America; as she puts it, ‘A whole new place just waiting to happen’.

5. What is it about reading that keeps you reading?
I enjoy the various elements that make up a compelling story, including a thoughtful structure and strong, lucid writing.  It’s also exciting when book design helps drive the narrative.

Paul Diamond (Ngati Haua, Te Rarawa, and Ngāpuhi) is a writer, journalist, historian and broadcaster. During his career he has produced radio features on Māori topics for National Radio, and worked as a senior reporter for Māori Television's current affairs show, Te Hēteri. His Radio programmes have won Quantas Media and Media Peace Awards. His books include A Fire in Your Belly, a collection of interviews with Māori leaders, and Makereti: Talking Māori to the World.

Book Council News

Meet the Author Annie Proulx

The Book Council is delighted to announce an upcoming Meet the Author event with Annie Proulx.

'Annie Proulx's books include the novel The Shipping News and the story collection Fine Just the Way It Is. Her many honors include a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize and a PEN/Faulkner award. Her story ‘Brokeback Mountain’, which originally appeared in The New Yorker, was made into an Academy Award-winning film. She lives in Wyoming.' (Author profile courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers) 
We will post the full event details in next month's e-newsletter. Alternately, keep an eye on our website
Coming soon to

A new destination on New Zealand's favourite books website - an ideas depot brimming with comment, opinion, reviews, news and bookchat, regularly refreshed and inviting you to participate. For breaking news about the launch of this exciting, fresh addition to the booksphere keep an eye on forthcoming monthly e-newsletters.

New Zealand Book Month events

An annual campaign, New Zealand Book Month encourages Kiwis to celebrate books and reading. Coming in March 2011, New Zealand Book Month is the perfect time to pick up a recommended read, share a favourite book with your friends and family, encourage colleagues to start a book club – and much more.

As you read, New Zealand Book Month Activists are busy organising a huge range of events across New Zealand to celebrate New Zealand Book Month. You can check out what’s happening in your area by heading to the Events section of the Book Month website. Check back regularly in the weeks leading up to March for updates and new event listings.

Residency and competition applications

The 2011 Pikihuia Awards
The Huia Publishers biennial writing competition is on once again. The competition opened on 1 January 2011 and closes on 15 April 2011. There is a choice of five categories for Māori writers to consider, with entry forms available online atHuia Publishers website. Entrants will be in with a chance to win $2000 in each category except the 'Best Short Story written in Maori or English by a Secondary School Student'. Secondary school students are eligible to win a cash prize of $500 and $250 worth of HUIA books for their school.

Finalists will have the opportunity for their work to be published in a collection to be launched at the Awards night in August 2011. This year’s judges are confirmed: Erima Henare, the Board Chair and Commissioner of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, will judge the 'Best Short Story written in Māori'; the 'Best Short Film Script written in English' will be judged by actor and director of theatre, television and the big screen Katie Wolfe; and the 'Best Novel Extract written in English' will be judged by Man Booker prize winner Keri Hulme. For more information please contact Charlie Holland on 04 913 2478 or email

Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize
Entries are being called for the 2011 Science Book Prize. This award seeks to promote popular science writing in New Zealand. It is open to all books published in 2009 and 2010 provided they fall within the eligibility criteria. A prize of $5000 will be awarded to the winning author. Key dates: Submission deadline 4 February 2011; Finalist list announced 25 March 2011; Announcement of winner 11 – 15 May 2011 (date tba), at Auckland Writers and Readers Festival. Please visit the Royal Society of New Zealand website for details about eligibility criteria and the submission process.

Whakatane Friends of the Library Short Story Competition 2011
The Whakatane Friends of the Library has introduced a new category in their 2011 Short Story competition to cater for the increasing number of writers who want to try their hand at writing for children. 'Adults Writing Junior Fiction' First prize is $150 and entries must not exceed 1,000 words. The ever-popular 'Open Section' offers a first prize of $300, with a maximum word count of 1,500 words. There is a $7 charge for one entry and $5 per entry for two or more. This year’s 'Youth Division' is divided into two sections; 13-17 years and 12 years and under. Entry is $5 for either one or two stories and may be shared within a family or classroom. Individual comments will be given for the top ten entries in each division and inclusion of a stamped, self-addressed envelope will secure an overall judges review. The competition closes on 15th March. Entry forms are available from Val: or Winsome:

Reminder from the Katherine Mansfield Society
The Katherine Mansfield Society's essay competition is open to studies of approximately 5,000 words on the subject of 'Katherine Mansfield and the Arts'. The winner will receive a cash prize of £200 and the winning essay will be considered for publication in Katherine Mansfield Studies. The distinguished panel of judges comprises: Emeritus Professor Angela Smith; Emeritus Professor Vincent O’Sullivan; Professor Kirsty Gunn. Essays are due by 1 March 2011. Further details are available here. For general queries, please email the Society:

Free global poetry competition is launched
The team behind the successful Global Short Story Competition has launched its first free global poetry competition - with the winner to be chosen by internationally-respected poet Bob Beagrie. The competition, launched on January 7, 2011, carries a £100 first prize and will run for three months (closing on April 7, 2011). There is no theme but a word limit of 250 words per poem. There is no limit on the number of poems submitted per writer. To enter, and for more information, head to

Reminder: New Zealand Society of Authors 2011 Mentor Programme
The NZSA Mentor Programme is designed to help emerging writers by developing skills which will sustain them throughout their future careers in writing. Working on a specific project, successful applicants will get an opportunity to discuss ideas and problems, and benefit from the experience of published writers. Each mentorship will run until December 2011 and is for a maximum of 20 hours of one-on-one tuition with an experienced author or editor. The usual deadline has been brought forward for this programme to 28 February 2011. For more details and the application form, visit the NZSA website or email

Reminder: Three Creative New Zealand writer opportunities
Three Creative New Zealand writer opportunities are being offered now for nationally recognised writers:.  

The International Writing Program, University of Iowa Writers’ Residency 2011 provides a unique opportunity for a New Zealand writer to live and work at the University of Iowa in the United States and participate in its International Writing Program (IWP). This writer’s residency brings established writers from around the world to the University of Iowa International Writing Program (IWP) where they become part of the lively literary community on campus. This unique opportunity, the result of a partnership between Creative New Zealand and the University of Iowa, is open for a nationally recognised New Zealand writer who has previously published at least one volume of work. Applicants from all literary genres at an early stage of their career, as well as more established writers, are eligible to apply.

The Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers’ Fellowship is New Zealand’s largest writing fellowship and supports established writers to work on a major project over two or more years.  Current recipient, Kate De Goldi is the eighth writer awarded the Michael King fellowship since its inauguration in 2003. It was renamed in recognition of the late Michael King for his contribution to literature and his role in advocating for a major fellowship for New Zealand writers. Previous recipients include Owen Marshall, Vincent O’Sullivan, CK Stead, Rachel Barrowman, Neville Peat, Dame Fiona Kidman and Philip Simpson.

The Berlin Writer’s Residency 2011/2012 offers a New Zealand writer the opportunity to live and write on an approved project in Berlin for a period of up to eleven months. It provides cover for travel to Berlin, insurance, a stipend and accommodation in the Friedrichshain district in former East Berlin. Previous recipients include Sarah Quigley, Tina Shaw, Kapka Kassabova, Philip Temple, Tim Corballis, Lloyd Jones and Sir James McNeish.

Applications for all three opportunities close on 25 February 2011.  Please follow this link to find out more here or contact
The New Zealand Book Council receives core funding from Creative New Zealand. We are extremely grateful to our funding partners, who enable us to deliver our programmes. We also value your membership, which supports our work in schools and communities throughout New Zealand.
Congratulations to Pat McKenzie of Wharewaka and Jean Jones of Porirua. They have each won a copy of Slip Stream, the most recent collection of poems by Auckland poet Paula Green (Auckland University Press, 2010).

This month we are giving away two signed copies of A Century of Library Life in Aotearoa: Te Rau Herenga, by Julia Millen. To celebrate 100 years of the New Zealand Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa, author and historian Julia Millen has traced the organisation from its inception in 1910 in Dunedin to its current status as a vibrant and professional voice in the new millennium.  The lively narrative is rich in anecdotes and some surprise details: Former All Black, Geoffrey Alley was New Zealand’s first National Librarian; well known writers Margaret Mahy and Maurice Gee also had significant library careers, and in the early 1990s the Association suffered and survived the embezzlement of funds. The publication also features a range of illustrative images and photographs.

Enter by emailing, with the name of the book in the subject line, and your New Zealand postal address in the body of the email. Entries must be received by 12 noon on Monday 7th of February.

Each month an industry specialist tells us about three books they're looking forward to seeing in the bookshops in the weeks ahead.

Following Nevena Nikolic's recommendations in last month's e-newsletter, John McIntyre and Ruth McIntyre give us their pick of upcoming publications. John and Ruth are owners of The Children's Bookshop, an independent specialist bookshop they established in Kilbirnie, Wellington in 1992.

Just Jack by Adele Broadbent, (Harper Collins) is the story of Jack, a 14 year old "horse whisperer", trying to get a break as an apprentice jockey. Set in the Hawke's Bay in the early 1930's the story is about his struggles to reach his goal in an industry where chicanery and deceit weren't unknown and young riders were often exploited. Action packed, with a major earthquake (Napier 1931) to add an historical element to the drama, the story features a rarity in New Zealand children's novels these days, a strong male voice. Broadbent seems to really get how boys operate. It's a cracker of a read.
Hudson Hates School by Ella Hudson, (Frances Lincoln) is a quirky mixture of Lauren Child-style illustrations combined with a story that sensitively handles the issue of children who have dyslexia. Hudson loves lots of things he does at school but has nightmares over spelling tests, and he needs help. It is reassuring, informative and will be universally welcomed.
When Gulls Fly High (Penguin) is actor/author/poet Peter Bland's second collection of verse for children, following The Night Kite which was shortlisted in The NZ Post Book Awards of 2005. Whimsical, often humourous, at times thoughtful, they ring of the poetry we all grew up reading and loving in the School Journal. Bland's British-based artist daughter Joanna adds to the pleasure with her beautiful illustrations.

The winner of the 2010 Takahe Poetry Competition, judged by writer and editor James Norcliffe, is Dunedin poet and fiction writer, Sue Wootton for her poem, 'Haunted'. The 2010 Takahe Poetry Competition’s second-place goes to Tusiata Avia for her poem, 'Wairua Rd'.

Creative New Zealand has announced that the first recipients of funding for the translation of New Zealand literature into foreign languages are:

Joy Cowley for her junior fiction book Friends: Snake & Lizard, which will be translated into Norwegian by Oslo-based Cappelen Damm, and Alison Wong for her NZ Post Book Award winning novel As the Earth turns Silver, to be translated into Spanish by Madrid-based publisher, Ediciones Siruela.

This new scheme was developed in response to 2009 research by the New Zealand Book Council, which found that the leading international models for promoting a country’s literature focused on a translation grant scheme. For more information about the scheme please visit the Creative New Zealand website or Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) website. 

Please note this is only a sample of events from the events page on our website:

Vanda Symon Book Launch, Dunedin
2 February, 6.00pm
Join Vanda Symon and the team at University Bookshop to celebrate the launch of Vanda's fabulous new novel Bound. All welcome. To RSVP or for further information contact University Bookshop -
Venue: University Bookshop, 378 Great King St, Dunedin

Book Launch - Mary Victoria, Wellington
5 February, 1.00pm
Mary Victoria spent her childhood immersed in fantasy novels. A job on Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies brought her to her adoptive home in New Zealand, and rather neatly back to reading and writing fantasy novels. Now Mary brings us Samiha’s song, the second book in her beautiful epic fantasy trilogy of a world set in a tree. Mary will be reading from the new book and signing alongside the cover designer, Weta’s Frank Victoria. For more information please see
Venue: The Weta Cave, 1 Weka St, Miramar, Wellington

Author Talk - Lesley Pearse, Palmerston North
16 February, 12.00pm
Lesley’s novels have sold close to 4 million copies in the UK alone. She has fans across the globe, including a massive following in New Zealand. Lesley has had a rich source of material to draw from in her own life. From a difficult start she had a desperate need for love and affection and is certain that is the reason she kept making bad choices herself. Even though she settled in to a happy family life all was turned upside down again in the '90s when the recession bit leaving her with a mountain of debts, bruised pride, her eighteen year marriage gone and back where she had started in a grim flat with barely enough money for her youngest daughter’s bus fares to school. Then the tide turned and with a publisher on board she was ‘on her way.’ 
Venue: Palmerston North Central Library, 4 The Square, Palmerston North

Rhythm & Verse, Titirangi
17 February, 7.30pm
Unwind with an evening of words and music on the top floor of Lopdell House, Titirangi. Our line-up of poets: Sarah Cotter, Vivienne Plumb, Michael Morrissey and Greg Brimblecomb, with music by Chillele - Angela, Pedro and Mark. Doors open at 7pm. Booking: phone 09 817 8087 x 201 or call into the gallery shop.
Venue: Lopdell House, 418 Titirangi Rd, Titirangi

Poetry @The Thistle Inn, Wellington
21 February, 7.30pm
The New Zealand Poetry Society presents performance poet Randall Stephens, a New Zealand poet living in Australia. The event is open to the public, and starts at 7.30pm with an open mic. There is a $5 entry fee ($3 for members).
Venue: The Thistle Inn, 3 Mulgrave St, Thorndon

Author Talk - Mike Dwight, Devonport
24 February, 7.30pm
Mike Dwight, author of Walter Callaway - Maori Warrior of the Boer War will speak about Walter Callaway. His book is the first account of a Maori serving in the South African War (1899 -1902). Callaway’s story is of a little known New Zealand war hero who participated in a war which a British prime minister described as “infamous, criminal and wholly indefensible.” The conflict is often referred to as “New Zealand’s forgotten war” yet its impact on the fledging nation was immense. Callaway and his family lived for a time in Huia Street in Devonport. For more information on Walter Callaway please check Copies of the book are available for cash-only sale at $35 each. Drinks and nibbles will start at 7.30pm, followed by the author talk at 8pm. This is a Devonport Library Associates event.
Venue: Devonport Library, Windsor Resrve, Victoria Parade, Devonport

Janet Frame Memorial Lecture, Wellington
3 March, 6.00pm
Held annually by the New Zealand Society of Authors, this lecture is delivered by the current President of Honour and is intended to provide an overview of the “state of the nation” for literature and writing in New Zealand, such that the reading public may have a greater understanding of what it means to be a writer in New Zealand. This year’s President of Honour is Joy Cowley; the prolific, widely-published and much-celebrated writer for children who has enjoyed considerable commercial and critical success both at home and overseas. The 2011 Janet Frame Memorial Lecture will look at the influences that have brought home-produced children’s literature into the global spotlight.
Venue: The Marae, Te Papa, Wellington


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Wellington 6011, New Zealand