Geyser in the Creek


A geyser erupts in the sleepy Bay of Plenty village of Kotuku. It is good and bad news for locals last seen coping with a gold strike a generation ago. Retired postmaster Jack Cavanagh was enjoying the quiet life, but his good friend retired stationmaster Rangi Rangihau has disappeared after predicting a geothermal event. Former storekeeper Ron Atkinson is run off his feet selling his wife’s pies to the influx of tourists whom local iwi and a government department are vying for custom of, along with discreet brothel keeper Ruby Brough and local drug tsar Bob Rogers. Electronic media and social outlets go viral and set the government’s spin doctors into a tailspin with the recently merged Department of Conservation, Tourism and Environment getting its teats in a terrible tangle over lagoon preservation and geyser exploitation. When Jack’s grandson Jason also goes missing, the national Search and Rescue spotlight is on Kotuku, driving into hiding the one chance for the missing couple, a mistreated, pie-pilfering Great Dane. The NZ Listener identified ‘a veritable Milkwood of characters’ in Gold in the Creek, ‘a shaggy sheep tale that is a bit of a dag’. The characters are back and added to in a digitally enhanced satire on media and government attempts to tweet the tourist face of a quiet village. The whimsy of Whisky Galore, the furious farce of  Blott on the Landscape and the dinkum Kiwi way with words. 224 pages $24.95; ebook from and Amazon $4.99 Buy Now   'I just wanted to tell you that I have now read your Geyser in the Creek and enjoyed it. It was great fun to read. You've got a good ear for dialogue and Rata's raps were fun.' Winifred Jackson [...]

A Dictionary of Noughties Kiwi Slang


A Dictionary of Kiwi Slang for the New Millennium — some old, some new, some borrowed, often blue. This collection presents the active slang, catchphrases and colloquialisms in Kiwi use in the first decade of the new century and is the book of my new slang site launched on Beattie's Book Blog 1 August 2011. Faster than a speeding bullet, slang arrives, like bikoi and boy racer, codgerati and skywaka, honkyori and Hobbitocracy, Remuera Attack Vehicle and Tupperwaka, manus and munted, the last new to Mayor Bob Parker in the Christchurch February earthquake, next month he is briefing Prince William on this local slang. Fleeting vogue words help define the decade, notably Tigertigerumu,  Helengrad, Corngate and Paintergate.  Hanging in are golden oldies like a box of fluffy ducks, bandicooting, up the boohai and underground mutton. Then there are the goneburgers like komaty, Py korry, Porirua briefcase and Wanganella weather. This is the first Internet-driven, Google-tested collection of Kiwi slang, 3000 entries and explanations of slang that is distinctively Kiwi or particularly popular with New Zealanders. NZ$24.95, 202 pages Buy Now  

Shaking 1960


A coming-of-age story of sex, booze, rock ‘n’ roll and conscience set in the turmoil of the ‘No Maoris, No Tour’ protests, the Hastings Blossom Festival Riot and Elaine Miscall winning the Eastbourne Mardi Gras beauty contest. Students pushing personal and public boundaries in election year are shadowed by authorities who tilt pranks and free expression into wild parties and violent death. It was a turbulent year in the capital and country, as both protesters and a reinvigorated National Opposition challenge a tired Labour Government. Well-known Wellington figures of the time appear in its pages, including poet James K. Baxter, publisher Hugh Price, leftwing writer Conrad Bollinger, the inconoclastic Dr Erich Geiringer, restauranteur Harry Seresin, entertainment lawyer Bill Sheat, Wellington Teachers College lecturers Jack Shallcrass, Pat Mascaskill and Anton Vogt, politician Dan Riddiford, anarchist Bill Dwyer, playwright Bruce Mason, novelist Barry Crump, balladeer Peter Cape, café owner Mary Seddon, communist Rewi Alley, university lecturer Harry Orsman. There are a host of other figures from National Party Eastbourne to leftwing Kelburn lifestylers, student party animals, anarchist pranksters, prominent figures in the seminal year of student protest, and the cafe and streetwalkers’ world where a young Carmen was just emerging. 'The strength of the book is in its portrayal of the agony and awkwardness of the transition to adulthood.' - Elspeth McLean, Otago Daily Times 'What a splendid read ... You have made a major contribution to recording the 60s in this book.' Alister Taylor, Publisher. NZ$30, 286 pages. Available as e-book from and Amazon NZ$4.99 Buy Now

The G’Day Country Redux


'I'd much rather go by train' was one of Lady Chatterley’s least controversial remarks. Fellow Paekakariki writer Michael O’Leary and myself share this view, and were reminded many others do too on our recent return trip on The Overlander to our hometown Auckland. People waved at us passing by on the train, we waved at them. When is the last time you saw anybody waving at cars or boats or planes? The point being that Michael and I have collaborated on a revisiting of my 1985 rail journey around New Zealand in now obsolete guards’ vans. The G’Day Country Redux is an extensively revised edition, with the additions of our Overlander journey compared to 1985's Silver Fern, over 100 images of trains then and now, and Michael’s original and witty railway poems. We both argue for bringing back the country’s first main trunk line, The Southerner from Christchurch to Invercargill, and the railcars from Wellington to Gisborne and New Plymouth. The Southerner was our best passenger train and we need it to complete the friendliest and most relaxed way to see the country. There’s no comparison between the scenic splendour from the train and the car canyon into Dunedin. A revived passenger train complex only requires demothballing railcars, a cheap fix for the benefit of showing a generation of kids the best way to see the country they never notice from car or plane. The cost is about that of shaving another corner off the state highway, the benefit for locals and tourists relief from road stress and a relaxed and inexpensive way to see our great country. We launched this book at Paekakariki’s railway station and museum with railways guru Bob Stott guest speaker addressing [...]

The Communion of the Easter Bun-Rabbit: The Food Lives of a Kiwi Here and There


You are what you eat – but first, you are what you cook. The author was baking bread from age five, but did not suspect an inherited disposition until the 2008 meeting with maternal and paternal cousins featured on the front cover. The food memories between have been 65 years in the proving, from Mum’s prodigious baking and student surprise at Graham Kerr’s cuisine to OE Ocker fusions of meat and fruit, snails and quail in Paris and London and the food-challenged Celtic homelands, returning to alternative experiments and pursuit of the perfect meat pie. This personal and social history of evolving and retro Kiwi cuisine draws on diaries, letters, journalism and clippings from a lifetime of national and global roaming. Stories include a disastrous non-lunch with Peter O’Toole and a restaurant meal with George Cole that was worse, a hair-raising prelude to tea with Sir Ralph Richardson and the Duke of Edinburgh’s friend threatening deportation at a Norwich welcome lunch, the author witnessing the Godfather of Kiwi Café Culture taming his All Black guests. 70 original recipes include an English cookery writer’s roast goose, a Kiwi cookery writer’s ‘Attic Chicken’, an English/Kiwi playwright’s pork and prunes, and dozens of heritage family favourites including brandy snaps, Louise cakes, pitta bread pizza and real Russian borscht, with a wine writer’s formative imbibing and the author’s bakes on bread and marmalade. 'Witty and entertaining.' Graham Beattie, Beattie's Book Blog. NZ$30.00, 343 pages Buy Now    

The Mock Funeral


In March 1868 a Catholic priest leads hundreds of Irish miners and three mock coffins through the streets of Hokitika, to celebrate as martyrs three Fenians hanged in Manchester. The arrest of the priest on a charge of sedition leads to Irish riots on the goldfields and conflict with British loyalists so bad the new Governor of New Zealand, who has received death threats from Fenian agitators, sends in the troops. This novel recreates the actual events of the fighting and the country’s only 19th century trial for sedition, and the secret work of agents provocateurs whipping up a ‘War of Races’ that will sweep back through the colonies to liberate Ireland from Britain. Set in the colourful period when Hokitika was the gold-rush capital of the world, this tale follows the reporting fortunes of a young journalist pitched into midst of men craving gold, champagne, dancing girls and the world’s first experiment in political equality for all races and nationalities. ‘A fabulous real story of the West Coast, cleverly woven into a believable novel.’ Paul Madgwick, Greymouth Star NZ$30.00, 336 pages Buy Now  

The Treadmill Tapes


Everybody has a continuously updated Top 20 or so favourite songs. Here is a one-man Top 20 band that may answer Cilla’s plaintive enquiry: ‘What’s it all about, Alfie?’ Launched on Ringo’s birthday, this personal history of popular music was 50 years in the making. It starts with the first liberation of hopscotching down a Bay of Plenty footpath humming ‘Jambalaya’, finds teenage release with Elvis and Johnny Devlin, student sixties with Ringo and friends, OE flowerpower journalism with Jools in Jesus Field, Mick and his mates in the studio, Jimi’s tragic last gig. Back home reconciliation relies on Van Morrison and Tina Turner, finds closure with Split Enz and Don McGlashan. From diaries and cassette tape collections, the author has recreated the sounds and social changes of each decade, the tapes serving to soften the daily treadmill grind, presented here as a meditation on popular music and its impact at the time and retrospectively. This pop odyssey charts the development of rock’n’roll and the infiltrations of Cajun Music, Irish and Pacific sounds, ponders the way songs, often as misheard mondegreens, trigger memories. Each chapter ends with a Top 20, at the end a Final Top 20. The one-man band is balanced by Top 20s from Carmen, Max Cryer, friends and family. ‘Barmy but charming.’ Chris Bourke, Sunday Star-Times NZ$30.00, 317 pages Buy Now  

From My Cold, Dead Hands


Student drop-out Greg Duffie’s suicide off the Kapiti coast is interrupted by an immediate threat. He is mistaken for his uncle, Professor Ben Duffie, recently sacked from the Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences for allegedly pilfering commercially sensitive oil-locating data. Other interested parties go to extreme lengths to recover or bury the data and its putative thief. The stroppy scientist meets fire with fire, his confrontational style extending to global warming zealots, government cliques, oil lobbyists and the naively powerful role of television in their cynical scenario. A 1966 meeting between Greg’s father and visiting actor Charlton Heston reverberates through the unfolding political and personal events, and Greg Duffie has to cope with a steep learning curve in regard to his family’s dark secret – if he gets the chance. 'A nice twist kicks off...a very Kiwi book.' Bernard Carpinter, Domion Post NZ$30.00, 315 pages Buy Now  



Ultimate terrorist threat to NZ’s volcano tourism in pulsating pursuit eco-thriller that could easily be tomorrow’s news. Dr Duffie is a 'Really engaging character ... an articulate, bad-tempered geology professor who shouts jeremiads against government policy' in this 'distinctive New Zealand thriller.' Sunday Star-Times. The NZ Listener called it 'a good yarn'. NZ$30.00, 264 pages Buy Now  

The First New Zealand Bushranger


In 1861, five months after gold was discovered in New Zealand at Gabriel’s Gully, Henry Beresford Garrett led a gang who robbed 15 miners of their gold on the trail back to Dunedin. He became notorious as the First New Zealand Bushranger for a robbery which, like the one he led on the Ballarat Bank, was carried out with unarmed revolvers. Garrett spent the rest of his life in New Zealand jails, where he wrote convict recollections of Norfolk Island, Tasmania and the Melbourne hulks. This is the first comprehensive account of the long prison life and hard times of a man who bore firsthand witness to the appalling brutality of these Victorian gulags. 'Research has been meticulous...a well written account.' Ron Tyrrell, Otago Daily Times NZ$30.00, 212 pages Buy Now