Sunday, July 11, 2010

Treasure in tales of old Wairarapa

This review of our latest book from the Wairarapa Times-Age, Saturday 10 July, 2010

In the early 1990s archivist Gareth Winter had the bright idea of writing feature articles of historical interest for the Times-Age.
The editor of the time, Andrew Wyatt, had the good sense to realise what a reader goldmine this would be.  Thus a publishing partnership was formed that has endured over 20 years, Gareth continuing to write the articles and the Times-Age  continuing to publish, much to the readers' delight.
Over the years more than 200 articles have been published.
Now a collection of some of the finest of these stories have been collated into a Wairarapa Archive publication- Two Men of Mana and other stories - A celebration of Wairarapa's early days.
It's the 17th such archive publication and continues the tradition of producing high-quality publications recording and retelling Wairarapa's rich history.
Two Men of Mana is a collection of early Wairarapa stories, ranging from the region's beginnings to the people and events that have shaped it.
The book covers exciting and tragic love stories, the establishment of Featherston township, and the arrival of Scandinavian settlers in northern Wairarapa.
There are also chapters on significant events in the region's early history, including the celebration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, Wairarapa's "season of fires" in 1898, famous shipwrecks off our coast, and the establishment of the first vineyards.
Gareth Winter's ability to combine historical details into compelling tales is really what makes a book like this such a success.  it's much more than a bland retelling of facts dug from hundreds of archive documents.  Each chapter is carefully crafted and is a story within itself.
Wairarapa is incredibly fortunate to have the archive.  Few centres of this size have compiled such a treasure trove of information., nor do they have an archivist with Mr Winter's unique qualities, especially when it comes to storytelling skills.
Two Men of Mana deserves to be on every Wairarapa bookshelf, and especially in every Wairarapa school. As with many of the otyher Wairarapa Archive publications it would serve the region equally well as a local history textbook and a must have local read.
It's available from the archive as well as local booksellers for $25.
                                                        David Saunders      

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