This week’s biggest-selling New Zealand books, as recorded by the Nielsen BookScan New Zealand bestseller list and described by Steve Braunias


1 Aroha by Hinemoa Elder (Penguin Random House, $30)

2 Supergood by Chelsea Winter (Penguin Random House, $50)

3 Māori Made Easy by Scotty Morrison (Penguin Random House, $38)

From Alison McCulloch’s review at ReadingRoom of the Māori Made Easy Audiobook by Scotty Morrison:.”Ki ōku nei whakaaro, e kore e taea e te ākonga reo Māori kore te kōrero, te mārama rānei ki te reo Māori mā tēnei pukapuka anake. He parī te pikinga mai i te wāhanga tuatahi ki te wāhanga 28, ā, ka nui ngā pātai e pupū ake nei i roto i te pīnati. Koirā pea te take ka tohua e Te Manahau kia ‘kimi kaiako mātau, tautōhito hoki’, otirā, ehara i te mea he māmā tēnei tohu hei whakatutuki.” Translation: “I don’t think it’s possible for the beginner to speak or to understand Māori using this book alone. The climb from part 1 to 28 is a steep one and raises lots of questions. Maybe that’s why Scotty advises us to ‘Find an experienced and renowned tutor or lecture’, but at the same time, that’s not easy advice to fulfil.”

4 Bella: My Life in Food by Annabel Langbein (Allen & Unwin, $49.99)

5 Impossible: My Story by Stan Walker (HarperCollins, $39.99)

In November, the author was named one of the best dressed men in show business on David Hartnell’s annual best-dressed list. Hartnell wrote, “Stan always dresses for the here and now. He’s always on trend with colour/fashion and style making his look all his own.” Hartnell also chose Dr Ashley Bloomfield (“He likes a tailored fit and wears it well”), Mike Hosking (“He has a great sense of whimsical”), and Jeremy Wells (“His tortoise-shell framed glasses have become part of his overall look”). The very best-dressed man in New Zealand, according to Hartnell, was Duncan Garner: “He has nice coloured jackets. He’s always got a pocket handkerchief in there.”

6 Gangland by Jared Savage (HarperCollins, $36.99)

The story of meth, the gangs who sell it, and the cops who bust the gangs, is a New Zealand best-seller – and it’s news in Ireland, too. Irish newspaper Sunday World interviewed the author last week: “A top crime writer has told how his idyllic New Zealand homeland is being plagued by meth addiction and a growing problem with biker gangs, Asian crime groups and Mexican cartels.

New Zealand Herald journalist Jared Savage, whose book Gangland: New Zealand’s Underworld of Organised Crime lifts the lid on a violent underworld, tells this weeks Crime World podcast that drug issues only started becoming a problem in the 1990s — nearly 15 years after Ireland’s heroin scourge started.

“Savage says, ‘A lot of people living overseas would see New Zealand as idyllic. With Covid we look pretty good right now but underlying all of it we have the same social problems as are seen across the world. The gap between the haves and the have nots is increased, there are housing problems, poverty, drug and alcohol abuse and horrific levels of domestic violence so it’s all tied in with the same sort of issues.

“‘So certainly drug issues, meth in particular, has changed the criminal underworld here in last 20 years. We often believe we are five years behind Australia and 10 or 15 years behind the UK and Ireland.’” The paper also recorded a podcast of the interview.

7 Māori Made Easy Workbook 1/Kete 1 by Scotty Morrison (Penguin Random House, $25)

From Alison McCulloch’s review at ReadingRoom of the Māori Made Easy Audiobook by Scotty Morrison:.”Hei whakakapi ake, me tuku mihi ki a Te Manahau i tōna ake aronui, i tāna ake mahi manawanui ki te whakatairanga i tōna reo Māori. Ko ia tētahi o ngā kanohi o te reo e mōhiotia whanuitia ana huri noa i te motu. He ringa tōhau nui ia, he whītiki o te kī, he manu tute, he manu tāiko. Nō reira, tēnā koe.” Translation: “I must acknowledge Scotty for his own focus and determination to raise up his language. He is one of the most well-known faces of te reo, a tireless worker, a weaver of words, an inspiration and a guardian to this particular flock. Tēnā koe.”

8 The Book of Angst by Gwendoline Smith (Allen & Unwin, $24.99)

9 Vegful by Nadia Lim (Nude Food, $55.00)

10 Destitute Gourmet by Sophie Gray (Penguin Random House, $35)



1 Auē by Becky Manawatu (Makaro Press, $35)

The winner of the 2020 Ockham New Zealand national book award for best novel, back at number one, again. The 2021 shortlist is announced next week; the winner will receive $54,000.

 2 Sister to Sister by Olivia Hayfield (Hachette, $34.99)

3 The Jacaranda House by Deborah Challinor (HarperCollins, $36.99)

4 Tell Me Lies by JP Pomare (Hachette, $29.99)

Made-up news story, planted in the middle of the Melbourne-based Kiwi crime writer’s latest ripper: “Overnight a man was arrested at his home in St Kilda East in connection with two suspicious fires in the South Yarra area, police say…The suspect, who is in his forties, is said to be known to one of the victims.”

5 Tiny Pieces of Us by Nicky Pellegrino (Hachette, $34.99)

6 Landmarks by Grahame Sydney & Owen Marshall & Brian Turner (Penguin Random House, $75)

It doesn’t belong in the fiction category; it’s a picture book.

7 The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House, $26)

8 The Tally Stick by Carl Nixon (Penguin Random House, $36)

9 Toku Papa by Solly Ruby (Victoria University Press, $25)

From the author’s speech at her book launch last week: “In some ways I wrote this book over three years, but in another way I’ve been writing it my whole life. I was blessed to have a childhood that in some ways tumbled from the pages of Enid Blynton, and unfortunately also from the pages of Stephen King. Endless summers spent on lake Taupo with bare feet and free reign of the streets. Magical winters in the mountains where the bush around our home would be turned into a palace of snow over night. My parents both added magic to the landscape of my childhood too, especially my Dad. Children often paint their parents as superheroes, but to me Dad was a tīpua, like Paikea or Rakaihautu controlling the elements around us. He’d tell me I was going to wake up and look outside to a white blanket over the land, and I would, every time.

“In other ways this book has been growing since before my time, since Dad’s childhood, growing with all the knowledge and lesson’s Dad learnt from his family and where he grew up. All the ways he learnt to make the world larger than life, with blankets of snow, the bush at night, and swimming down rapids. Then too, the whakapapa extends further back than Dad and I.

“I think often about how in the wider scheme of things, the written word is new to some parts of my whakapapa. But poetry has been present since the beginning of time. In the way our world was sung into being, in the love story of rangi and papa, in the magic winds that pushed our waka here, in the mighty men who carved our rivers. All of it is poetry written on a massive living canvas.”

10 Addressed to Greta by Fiona Sussman (David Bateman, $34.99)

Steve Braunias is the literary editor of Newsroom's books section ReadingRoom, a noted writer at the NZ Herald, and the author of 10 books.

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