Monday, August 20, 2012
Stag Spooner - Wild Man from the Bush
An illustrated diary kept by a deer hunter during 1939 and 1940 lies at the heart of an exciting new biography published later this month by Craig Potton Publishing .
Neville ‘Stag’ Spooner grew up in the Wairarapa during the Great Depression. His father was an enthusiastic carver, musician and hunter who taught his whole family to shoot and also encouraged their artistic abilities.
Stag started keeping records of his daily life as a child and continued the practice during his military service in World War II, until his early death in Fiordland aged just 28. It was the illustrated diary that he kept while working as a deer culler for the Department of Internal Affairs, first in the Tararuas and then
on the West Coast of the South Island, that is being reproduced for the first time as part of this new book.
“It’s the kind of exciting discovery of a Kiwi classic that everyone dreams about,” says Wellington based biographer Chris Maclean. “When I was first shown a copy of the original diary I was fascinated, it seemed a really significant find to me. I started out writing an explanatory essay to accompany the publication of the diary. But as I spoke with more of the family, my understanding of Stag’s creative output increased and so did the scope of the project.”
Stag Spooner: Wild man from the bush – The story of a New Zealand hunter – artist by Chris Maclean will be launched in Masterton on Saturday 28 August.
An exhibition based on Stag’s life and artworks is also showing at Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and
History during August and September.
About the author
Chris Maclean is a Wellington historian, writer, photographer and publisher, with a keen interest in the
outdoors. He has written a number of acclaimed and award-winning books, including Tararua , Waikanae, Kapiti, Wellington – Telling Tales, and a biography of John Pascoe. Chris is the great-grandson of George Whitcombe, founder of Whitcombe & Tombs.