Friday, October 26, 2007


I have long thought that Cantabrians seem more interested in their history than those of us from other parts of this fair land.

So I guess it is not surprising to find two important books dealing with Canterbury history being published within a couple of weeks of each other. Interestingly they both held their launch parties at the splendid University Bookshop at Canterbury University’s Ilam campus.

Anna Roger Reed $40

Profusely illustrated and written in an easy and accessible style by well-regarded Christchurch author and editor Anna Rogers, this book tells the story of Canterbury from its geological formation through Maori settlement to European settlement, the development of farming, through to the present day with its economic successes of dairying, tourism and technology.

A great book to send to ex-pat Cantabrians wherever they may be.

I love the cover illustration, a 1943 John Pascoe photograph of farmhand Ted Porter and his son Bobby bringing in the mail at Laurie Walker’s Manuka Point Station, near the headwaters of the Rakaia River. The book is full of such evocative pics.

BANKS PENINSULAR – Cradle of Canterbury
Gordon Ogilvie Phillips & King $60

This most handsome hardback, the first title from new Canterbury publishers Phillips & King, was first published in 1990 to commemorate 150 years of European settlement and 800 years of Maori occupation.

It has long been out-of-print and so new-boy publishers Phillips & King have produced this revised edition to satisfy local demand for a much-regarded local history. A clever move on their part and I’m sure a much welcomed one by locals.

The book was enthusiastically reviewed when first published and reading those early reviews makes it clear that this is a work of great scholarship.It is certainly well-indexed, contains copious notes on sources and has an extensive bibliography. Also most generously illustrated.
A must for all Canterbury bookshelves.

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