Featured Titles

Tears of Rangi: Experiments Across Worlds by Dame Anne Salmond

Reviewed by Simon Lynch, our Studios Producer

Never before has a non-fiction book been written so beautifully on the cultural history of New Zealand. Dame Anne Salmond’s meticulously researched Tears of Rangi is the story of the earliest interaction between Maori and Pakeha and the intersection of opposing spiritual worlds, told with such eloquence that the reader is swept away in the realisation that this is our history being told in the most erudite manner.

The complexities of the past are explained within context of the times, the first settlers looking to colonise and spread Christianity in the Far North, the various Maori tribes deprived of land rights, and a landscape determined by bloody inter-tribal battles and chiefly rulers. Tears of Rangi goes a long way in explaining the unresolved issues surrounding the Treaty of Waitangi. Yet for all this weighty subject matter, Tears of Rangi is eminently readable and one of the greatest non-fiction books ever written in any genre. That a book of such magnitude is about our history as New Zealanders makes this even more incredible.

Book information

Title: Tears of Rangi: Experiments Across Worlds
Author: Dame Anne Salmond
Synopsis: An account of the arrivals in New Zealand of the Polynesian explorers six centuries ago and then of the European explorers two centuries ago. The book looks at their encounters, clashes, alliances and the ways in which multiple worlds engage and collide in New Zealand.
Production: Produced by RNZFB. Read by Hera Dunleavy in 30 hours, 45 minutes. Book number 97229.

Partisan by James Caffin

Reviewed by Gary Denvir

Partisan is the story of my grandfather, John Denvir, who was one of New Zealand’s unsung heroes in WWII. After twice escaping from prisoner of war camps in occupied Yugoslavia, he decided to join a local group of resistance fighters called the Partisans. For two years, he fought side by side with local Slovenians, rising to become one of their leaders due to his courage and determination. A serious arm wound eventually saw him invalided home by the Brits, who were surprised he was even alive after he was earlier declared killed in action.

The story is one of immense pride for my family, and I am thrilled the Blind & Low Vision NZ has asked me to narrate it. I hope you enjoy it.

Book information

Title: Partisan
Author: James Caffin
Synopsis: The story of John Denvir, D.C.M., New Zealand corporal who fought in the ranks of the Yugoslav Partisan forces for two years.
Production: Produced by RNZFB. Read by Gary Denvir in 4 hours, 38 minutes. Book number 126335.

Deep Beyond the Reef: A True Story of Madness and Murder in the South Pacific by Owen Scott

Reviewed by Owen Scott

I was grateful and privileged to be able to narrate my book for the Foundation. It was published in 2006, so I had forgotten some of the material – a bit like coming to it afresh. There were times even I was surprised. I had read a 15-part condensed version for RNZ but never the full book.

Part of the reason I wrote the book was to quarantine/neutralise the worst of the past. I could put it in a drawer and ‘forget’ about it, knowing it was there if I ever needed to refer to it. (My nephew recently told me he still picks it up and reads sections at random!)

Narrating it for the Foundation gave me the opportunity to update the story and tell the reader about the film based on the book. Several things have happened subsequently. I might now write a new version of the book – incorporating the new material I have narrated and bringing back the 40,000 words of the original that did not make the Penguin edit. Thank you for this opportunity of sharing my story. I hope you enjoy it. Just make sure you are wearing a seat belt! It’s just a story. Everyone has one and no story is more important than any other!

Book information

Title: Deep Beyond the Reef: A True Story of Madness and Murder in the South Pacific
Author: Owen Scott
Synopsis: The brutal murders of Fiji Red Cross director John Scott and his partner Greg Scrivener in 2001 were clouded in media rumour and political mystery. Drawn back to Fiji by the tragedy of his brother’s death, Owen Scott embarks on a quest for the truth. In this book, he attempts to unravel the crime and understand the unique society in which he grew up as the son of a prominent and domineering father.
Production: Produced by RNZFB. Read by Owen Scott in 14 hours, 10 minutes. Book number 102518.