From our reviewers: NZ non-fiction

04:21, Mar 24 2014

New Zealand non-fiction books available now.

Wild South, Hunting and Fishing the Southern Hemisphere
By Peter Ryan (Bateman, RRP $40)

Reviewed by Naida Mulligan

Written from the heart, this beautifully produced book is a must-have for hunting enthusiasts, both practising and armchair.

He doesn't exactly detail how he's managed it, but Peter Ryan has done a fair amount of hunting and fly fishing in many parts of Africa and South America, as well as in Australia and New Zealand.

His writing is poetic enough to place the reader in the moment, and his knowledge is humbly imparted. Probably my favourite stories were the one about the lion he didn't shoot, "catch-and-release lion - the best trophy I never had" and his experience in the Christchurch earthquake as he traipsed across town for an hour to get to his son, then spent another hour carrying him to reach his wife.


Grand stories abound, and many interesting tangents are gone off on, such as the best flies to use or how to make jerky or biltong.

Ryan has had many articles, stories and images published, but this is his first book. You can find some information about him on his website and there's a trailer for this book on YouTube.

Moon Over Martinborough
By Jared Gulian (Random House, RRP $40)

Reviewed by Mark Hotton

We have all had our moments where we have thought "this could be the life". You may have stood in a paddock or an orchard, the sun streaming down, looking at a view that people pay to see and thought, "yes, I could do this".

In reality, few take that idyllic lifestyle plunge . . . and even fewer manage to handle it.

Jared Gulian was one of those who looked at a lifestyle - as an olive grower - and wisely realised a rural life was not for him. Only his partner decided it was and two American city lads because Kiwi farmers, complete with olive grove, chickens, sheep and pigs.

Moon Over Martinborough is the result of that foray into rural living, documenting the escapades the pair had in their first four years. It documents the challenges they faced adjusting to a rural way of life as well as producing olive oil, the way their at-times unorthodox approach worked, and how they came to appreciate the small community they quickly became a part of.

Well written, it has self-deprecating humour - the pair do not pretend to have all the answers so are humble in their approach.

With great pencil drawings of their life, it is a warm insight. Particularly clever is the inclusion of some of the recipes from meals they get to share with their neighbours, who are always willing to help.

It might not make you want to make the big change, but it will certainly show you what it could be like.

Dolphins Down Under: Understanding the New Zealand Dolphin
By Liz Slooten and Steve Dawson (Otago University Press, RRP $30)

Reviewed by Jillian Allison-Aitken

Found only in New Zealand's waters, Hector's dolphins are both cute and fascinating.

They are also - as the publisher points out - as "Kiwi as the kiwi but their numbers are under threat".

Suitable for a wide range of ages, this little book is packed with information about these creatures and the dangers they face, especially from fishing.

The passion of the authors shines through and it is hard not to share in that passion once you learn more about these dolphins.

Mothers Cry Too
Dr Sara Weeks (Penguin, RRP $35)

Reviewed by Naida Mulligan

Subtitled "recognising and coping with postnatal depression", this is a handy guide for all new mothers and their families. It discusses the whole range of conditions from the fairly innocuous three day blues to manic psychosis and bipolar disorder.

The first part gives an understanding of postnatal depression. This is followed by risk factors and warning signs, treatments, ideas on how to adjust to parenthood and a final part on how others can help.

As you would expect, there is also a comprehensive list of New Zealand- based resources, a glossary and index.

As a new mother for the fourth time, I still learned a lot from this book. You don't have to be on the verge of a mental breakdown to find it useful.

Highly recommended.

Huia Short Stories 10: Contemporary Maori Fiction, RRP: $30

Reviewed by Naida Mulligan

This collection of stories kept me thinking and eager to read on. It made me look forward to the 11th collection and want to read the previous nine too. It's difficult to pick out a favourite but I think it had to be "Awa" by Shelly Davies. It's about a man "coming home". Shelly won the Auckland University of Technology Creative Writing competition in 2011 with "Leap" so it seems that she is already a writer of note. These are the best of the stories and novel extracts from the 2013 Pikihuia Awards for Maori writers and most of the authors are very newly discovered talent.

Many of the stories are about coming home or being home or coming to an appreciation of one's roots. There is a sense in many of the deep spirituality of the tangata whenua and the importance of whanau and knowing or discovering one's whakapapa.

Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommended.