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Book reviews: June 2023

3 min read
June 2023 book reviews

Pick of the month

Great Stories of New Zealand Conservation
Alan Froggatt
White Cloud Books, Upstart Press

In the fight against preserving Aotearoa’s extraordinary wildlife, there are both villains and heroes, and Alan Froggatt’s latest book celebrates those who have tirelessly worked – and continue to work – to preserve New Zealand’s unique heritage.

Froggatt shares 50 inspiring and thought-provoking stories of conservation and ecological projects from right across the motu: some have been locally led, such as the creation of off-shore island sanctuaries, while others have been driven by national organisations, such as saving the kākāpō and the yellow-eyed penguin.

The collection of compelling narratives celebrates the efforts and remarkable achievements of conservationists. In every chapter, there are real-life New Zealanders who care passionately about our environment.

Froggatt’s passion for the subject matter is evident throughout the pages. His knowledge and appreciation for New Zealand extraordinary range of plants and animals shine through the prose, making it a must-read for anyone interested in knowing more about the incredible people who come together, armed with unwavering commitment, and dedicate their lives to protecting the natural wonders of New Zealand.

More good reads

Unique Birds
Alan Froggatt
White Cloud Books, Upstart Press

Another one from Alan Froggatt, this book offers a captivating and enlightening exploration of the remarkable avian species that inhabit the diverse landscapes of New Zealand. Froggatt invites us into the world of these extraordinary birds, shedding light on their distinct characteristics and behaviours.

From the iconic kiwi, with its endearing appearance and elusive nature, to the playful and intelligent kea, known for its mischievous antics, Froggatt showcases a wide range of New Zealand’s avifauna. The easy-to-read prose makes the book accessible to both bird enthusiasts and casual readers.

Forggatt tells the stories of the endemic species that have become extinct following early human arrival and after settlement by Europeans – including the various species of moa – and looks at the status of New Zealand’s surviving bird species, including the kiwi and kakapo, assessing their future prospects.

The book is undoubtedly informative and engaging and explores why the remarkable birdlife of New Zealand is subject to so much attention from birders, scientists, and the general public around the world.

The Meditative Fisherman: Lifetime Reflections on Fly Fishing
Bryan Archer
Ensemble Publishing
$19.54 (AUD)

In this first book, author Bryan Archer takes readers on a voyage that intertwines the art of fly fishing with profound introspection and personal contemplation.

Drawing from a lifetime of experiences on the water – Archer has been fishing for more than 40 years – he shares insightful reflections that delve beyond the surface of the sport, revealing the transformative power it holds for the mind, body, and soul.

The memoir is a love letter to the rivers and lakes he has fished, the people he has fished them with, the flies he has used, and the people who came before him. It’s a meditative travelogue that spans the globe and some of its most spectacular fishing spots, from the UK, across the US, to New Zealand.

Archer shares his passion for fly fishing along with his interests in meditation, consciousness, and diverse methods of thinking.

To Distant Shores
William C. Hammond
McBooks Press

Written by a relatively recent US immigrant to Kiwi shores, this tale follows the saga of a mid-1800s
US Navy captain and his crew who set sail from the US to Australia, only to be blown off course during a storm and shipwrecked in northern New Zealand.

The captain’s pregnant wife is also onboard and is separated when the ship is abandoned. Both think each other is dead, so end up in entirely different circumstances and relationships.

The interesting part is how the author handles the colonisation aspects and Māori/Pakeha relationships while not getting too focussed on historical detail and still maintaining a coherent storyline.

A bit sanitised, but a solid tale, nonetheless.

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