Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Boundaries: People and Places of Central Otago -- Brian Turner

Boundaries: People and Places of Central Otago
Brian Turner

Published 2 November 2015; $45.00; Godwit

This new collection of writing — from one of Central Otago’s beloved characters — is especially for anyone who is thinking about moving to a smaller community. Particularly so if they’re looking for a better quality of life and wanting a closer connection to the people and the place in which they live. This is especially relevant given the pressures of city life on today’s families.

It’s also for those who have cycled or driven through and fallen for the magnificent and very special landscape of Central Otago.

Boundaries is a handsome companion to Brian Turner’s bestselling collection Into the Wider World and it is Brian’s tribute to the people and places of Central Otago. Hailing from the Otago Turner sporting family, Central’s Oturehua (population around 30) has been Brian’s home now since 1999.

Brian’s name had become synonymous with Central Otago – albeit a different Central – one well removed from the tourist centres and vineyards. His Central is at the boundaries; watching the local rugby teams, fishing the waters of the Manuherikia, cycling towards the snow-covered Hawkdun Range. It's where he and his neighbours live and work. It’s where going for a ride ‘around the block’ takes the best part of three hours.
An angler, passionate conservationist, cyclist, journalist, beloved poet and ardent southerner, Brian says that after having written Into the Wider World, which was a big canvas, he now wanted to write about a more intimate Central Otago, both through his own eyes as well as through those locals who have lived in the area most of their lives.

‘I wanted them to tell their stories and talk about what Central means to them. So you have two takes on it in that regard.
‘There’s a quirkiness about the book that has given me the opportunity to discuss why I believe the future of New Zealand, and human kind, ought to be with localities and regions trying to make themselves as sustainable and resilient as possible given what appears to be facing us. It’s a cry for regions to pull together and try and become even more resourceful than they are at the moment. I think what we have in Central is a potpourri of the best kind of what communities can be and that’s why it works. People pitch in. They believe in the importance of self-help but they also understand that when you’re living in, what is deemed to be by some people’s standards, an out of the way place, you are at various times reliant on assistance from others.

Boundaries includes a good mixture of gritty, brilliantly descriptive and amusing material from Brian not to mention many outstanding poems and splendid photographs from Steve Calveley, a retired North Island GP who built a house just up the road from Brian. It’s peppered with impressions, evocations and recollections of the way life was, and is today. All set within the spectacular hills, rivers and big skies of Central Otago.

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