09 January 2014

New Zealand's Lost Heritage, by Richard WOLFE



Richard WOLFE's  New Zealand's Lost Heritage, published by New Holland Publishers (November 2013), is a fascinating collection of landmarks and buildings we have let slip through our fingers via natural forces, commercial greed or communal apathy.

Wolfe devotes a chapter to each of his selected twenty examples of heritage buildings, their construction, redevelopment, community significance, illustrated with water-colour paintings for earlier days and later, photographs, and interesting -some, even amusing- extracts from reported news stories written in period.

Some landmarks I had never before heard of, some I have never seen, but each story brings the landmark to life in interesting ways.

The opening chapter devoted to Ruapekapeka fortified pa was an eye opener. The description of the wiliness which went into its construction by the Maori, under chief Kawiti, and aided by sketches drawn at the time by British soldiers, revealed a natural talent for shelter and protection from the bomb-blasts and cannon fire. (I found it spoiled somewhat by the lack of publisher's or printer's application of macrons where appropriate for te rēo Māori.)

Another favourite chapter is that devoted to Edmonds Sure To Rise factory in Christchurch. Wolfe tells of T L Edmonds earlier industry and how it led to his specialization in that pantry staple of the New Zealand housewife and baker. Interestingly I learned of two Edmonds' products of which I'd not before known. (I was disappointed Wolfe gave no mention of the Edmonds Cake Baking Powder - essential for the home baker without access to eggs, and available up to the very early 1980s, but no mind.) To learn that Edmonds parkland and gardens are being cherished by Christchurch still is a pleasing concept.

Other landmarks include Auckland's His Majesty's Theatre and Arcade, the Victoria Arcade, the Partington Mill, Hiona (at Maungapohatu), Rangatea (at Otaki), and the Lyttleton Timeball Station (my restorative instinct cries out for this to be reconstructed!).

Wolfe's style is that of a friendly conversationalist, helpfully filling in our blanks of what should be common or general knowledge of our heritage. 

Its Index is comprehensive and helpful, References for each chapter provide those interested with a trail to follow to further information or to confirm Wolfe's sources, and Picture Credits complement the references section.

It is a pity it is marred by a (very) few typographical or editorial errors. (But the publishers have already been in touch with me to ask about the errors, so future editions will be error free - a quick and heartening response.)

ISBN 978-1-86996-387-2 hard cover bound.
New Holland Publishers (NZ) Ltd, Auckland.


Available at Booksellers NZ outlets. 

 


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