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


1 Kāwai by Monty Soutar (David Bateman, $39.99)

Number one for the second consecutive week – in paperback version; the hardback version, below, is number two for the second consecutive week. It’s an incredible achievement and I’ll write about Soutar’s historical novel in the ReadingRoom weekly newsletter sent out to subscribers on Saturday (by all means subscribe now; a new topic is discussed every week).

2 Kāwai by Monty Soutar (David Bateman, $49.99)

“My new novel Kāwai portrays Māori society in the 1700s and kaitangata – referred to as cannibalism in ethnographic literature – was very much a part of that society. To ignore it in the novel would be to be unfaithful to what I know about this period…. Some commentators have written that Māori never pursued the practice from love of it, but to gratify revenge on enemies. That may be true, but there are instances in our oral traditions which point to the killing and consuming of individuals who were less than traditional enemies. I guess it depends on how you define the term enemy or hoariri as one would say it in Māori (angry friend)”: from a fascinating essay by the author, published last week at ReadingRoom.

3 Eddy, Eddy by Kate De Goldi (Allen & Unwin, $29.99)

Eddy, Eddy took her three years to complete, but the idea went back a decade before that, sparked in a split-second, when a friend mentioned he was taking his cockatoo to the vet because it was constipated, which De Goldi found enormously funny. And so Eddy, the novel’s teen protagonist, who has a pet-minding business, grew from that, along with all the book’s other characters. De Goldi set the book in Christchurch, and placed it after the Canterbury earthquakes, which affected her hugely”: from an excellent interview by Mike White at Stuff.

4 The Wrong Woman by JP Pomare (Hachette, $36.99)

5 Harbouring by Jenny Pattrick (Penguin Random House, $36)

6 Return to Harikoa Bay by Owen Marshall (Penguin Random House, $37)

7 Poor People With Money by Dominic Hoey (Penguin Random House, $37)

8 Kurangaituku by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers, $35)

Congratulations are in order to Kurangaituku designers Te Kani Price and Camilla Lau, who won the award for best commercial book at last night’s New Zealand Book Design Awards. A sample of their inventive work on Hereaka’s novel is below; the work of all the other winners is published at the end of this week’s chart.

9 Always Italicise by Alice Te Punga Somerville (Auckland University Press, $24.99)

New collection of poems, including an epic devoted to an iconic Auckland street once known as Madeleine Avenue, now renamed Mt Taylor Drive, in Glendowie. It begins

dave dobbyn wrote a song about madeleine avenue.

dlt helped him out with it

and it’s a good song

to those of us who grew up in the area,

the street they sing about wasn’t ‘madeleine avenue’ —

it couldn’t carry off that kind of name.

it was mad ave.

It ends

when i was 14

i was in a school production about taurere

and the stories told about the people who’d known the landscape

before mad ave, before mount taylor drive.

i’m still not sure who has the right to mourn

who has the right to say

that their place was taken away.

Striking graphic cover; a definite contendor for the 2023 New Zealand Book Design Awards.

10 Greta and Valdin by Rebecca K Reilly (Te Herenga Waka University Press, $35)


1 Needs Adult Supervision by Emily Writes (Penguin Random House, $35)

Publisher’s blurbology: “Needs Adult Supervision is Emily Writes’ take on growing up and feeling like a real adult. This book looks at the growing pains of kids and their parents and their attempts to navigate a world that’s changing by the minute. Emily paints a vivid picture of all the feelings, fortunes and failures that come with trying to parent when you don’t always feel up for the task. What it feels like to be learning at the same time your kids are. What happens when we get radically honest about the challenges parents are facing.”

Striking graphic cover; a possible contendor for the 2023 New Zealand Book Design Awards

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

3 Miss Polly’s Kitchen by Polly Markus (Allen & Unwin, $45)

4 Ross Taylor: Black & White by Paul Thomas (Upstart Press, $49.99)

5 Yes, Minister by Christopher Finlayson (Allen & Unwin, $36.99)

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

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

8 Everyday Favourites by Vanya Insull (Allen & Unwin, $39.99)

9 Sons of a Good Keen Man by The Crump Brothers (Penguin Random House, $38)

I was sitting in my shed the other day and flipping through the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook ’64 – it’s the controversial one, which the Literary Fund refused to sponsor unless six poems were omitted (all grubby little squibs about sex, not worth publishing in the first place: “The girl next to me, as plump as custard…she is sweetly chiselled meat/ I hoped to spread on you-know-what plate/ and spike at leisure with a special mustard”, wrote Christchurch court reporter Richard Packer). Well, those were the times, grasping and rooty, stained with the six o’clock swill; and a hero of the age was Barry Crump, then at the peak of his fame, as the author of  bestselling books of yarns and tall tales, A Good Keen Man (1960), Hang on a Minute Mate (1961), and One of Us (1962). Among the contributors to the 1964 Poetry Yearbook was Crump’s friend Jack Lasenby. He writes in his biographical notes at the end of the book, “I’m a former deer culler and trapper, but now, married with two children, I’m on the well-beaten track to Training College. My real claim to fame is that I shot with Crump. My wife adds that real fame can only come by shooting Crump.”

My review of Sons of a Good Keen Man, a memoir by Barry Crump’s six sons, ran last week.

 10 Fossil Treasures of Foulden Maar by Daphne Lee & Uwe Kaulfuss & Jo Conran (Otago University Press, $60)

Foulden Maar! The Foulden Maar. It’s an amazing paleontological site in Otago, home to countless rare, well-preserved fossils. Fossil Treasures is one of the year’s best illustrated books  – and it’s a probable contendor for the 2023 New Zealand Book Design Awards.

And now to the winners of the 2022 New Zealand Book Design Awards, held last night. Xoë Hall’s witty and exuberant cover of Tayi Tibble’s poetry collection Rangikura won the best cover award.

Anna Brown and Matt Law won best illustrated book for their work on Anne Noble’s photography book Conversātiō: In the company of bees (named one of the best illustrated books of 2021 by ReadingRoom.)

Floor van Lierop won best typography for He Ringatoi O Ngā Tūpuna by Hilary and John Mitchell.

Dave Gunson and Alice Bell won best education book for Gunson’s Inside New Zealand Wildlife. (The image supplied was too small to reproduce here.) Emily Joe won best children’s book as the designer (and author and illustrator) of My Cat Can See Ghosts.

Cat Taylor and Evie Kemp won best cookbook for Lucy Corry’s Homecooked.

And finally, the always fabulous, multi-award winning Keely O’Shannessy (with typesetting by Tina Delceg) won best non-illustrated book for the Paula Morris and Alison Wong anthology Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand. Congrats to all the winners (including Te Kani Price, who won best emerging designer) and thanks to the judges, the wise and venerable Jenna Todd (convenor), Jenny Nicholls, Johnson Witehira and William Chen. Here is Clear Dawn in all its O’Shannessian beauty.

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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