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Forgotten words

Recently, the words “hashtag,” “selfie” and “tweep” were among 150 new words and definitions added to Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, proof of how our culture continues to expand our communication.  The Oxford word of the year, isn’t even a word!

forgotten wordsStill, some old words deserve a bit more love. As part of its initiative to draw attention to some of the English language’s most expressive — yet regrettably neglected — words, Wayne State University has released its annual list of top 10 words that deserve to be used more often in conversation and prose.

If you agree, obambulate to the library and get some language books or dictionaries out – expand your vocabulary!  But if you think I’m talking flapdoodle, don’t bother.


Word Warrior’s Top 10 words to be revived for 2015:

Caterwaul: A shrill howling or wailing noise.

Concinnity: The skillful and harmonious arrangement or fitting together of the different parts of something.

Flapdoodle: Nonsense.

Knavery: A roguish or mischievous act.

Melange: A mixture of different things.

Obambulate: To walk about.

Opsimath: A person who begins to learn or study only late in life.

Philistine: A person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts, or who has no understanding of them.

Rapscallion: A mischievous person.
April Fools’ Day was better than Christmas for the young rapscallion.

Subtopia: Monotonous urban sprawl of standardised buildings.

(Source: Word Warrior’s 2015 Top 10)


Join author Helen Waaka

Poster - Tararua District Library - Book Launch Dannevirke Library - Helen Waaka jpegHelen Waaka is launching her new book ‘Waitapu’ at Dannevirke Library on Thursday 19 November 2015, at 5.30pm.

Entry is free, but RSVP would be appreciated by phone, in person or email to


2015 Children’s Summer Reading Programmes

summer reading;jpgMonday 9 November 2015, registrations open for the iRead and Summer Reading Programme for Tararua District resident children.   The programmes both run from 7 December 2015 to 22 January 2016, but you can book in to participate now – a good idea as places are limited!

These programmes encourage kids to continue reading over the long summer holidays, and improve their communication and confidence, as well as enjoying visits from professional storytellers and entertainers, thanks to the Eastern and Central Community Trust, who fund it.

What is iRead about?   (Year 7 & 8)

  • If you are in Year 7 or 8 at school, or homeschooled and aged 11-13, then you can put your name down for this programme (or your parent/caregiver can) in person or by telephone.
  • Once the programme starts, you have to read Tararua District library books then write a written report about it in the booklet we give you, which is assessed by library staff or volunteers.
  • After every three reports, you can choose a free book to keep, up to a maximum of four free books.
  • At the end of the programme, each person who has completed at least three reports, will receive a certificate and free book.

What is Summer Reading Programme (SRP) about?  (age 2 – 10)

  • For children aged two to Year 6 at school.
  • Parents or caregivers may book in for their child to do this programme (children may not register themselves).
  • The child reads, or their caregiver reads to them, Tararua District Library books.
  • Then the child visits the library to “report-in” to library staff or volunteers, which is giving a brief spoken summary of the story – our expectations cater to the childs age of course.
  • Children may do one report-in at a time, and up to two in any one week. For example, you can do one report-in on Tuesday and another on Wednesday.
  • Rural children may do written reports by email, if they cannot visit the library.
  • After each report-in, the child is given a small incentive gift.
  • Four report-in’s are required to complete the programme, but children can do a fifth bonus one if they wish.
  • At the end of the programme, a Finale party is held where children who have completed, receive a certificate and free book.
  • If you are going out of town, you can register here but do the report-in’s at other libraries that are participating in SRP.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask any of our librarians, or email 2015

iRead 2015


The battle for Afghanistan

Whoa, what a story!  “Return of a King: the battle for Afghanistan” is the true story of grand conceit and chicanery under the British Government and its corporate puppy, the British East India Company, in late 1830s British Colonial India.  The first British War for Afghanistan, 1839-42, was a military disaster so terrible and so disgraceful it makes Custer’s Last Stand look mild. 

The author, William Dalrymple, is a British historian specialising in Colonial Asia. He has an easy completely modern writing style, but is skilled enough to give depth, context and analysis and never lose the thrill and momentum of his tragic narrative. He gives life to the people who made the decisions, their delusions and failings and the impossible situations that engulfed them. We hear of men and women who knew the truth in advance but were ignored and could only watch the horror ignite. 

afghan womanAnd to think that this was the culture of British military government at the very time that colonial New Zealand was also being maneuvered toward the Treaty of Waitangi at the instigation of naval Captain William Hobson.  Oh, they were very good! 

The book includes many beautiful portraits and artists’ impressions of crucial people and events. Of course, there was no photography at this time to give us any actual views, which is probably a blessing.  There is a rather long introduction covering all the leading actors in the conflict which is a little off-putting to wade through initially. But Dalrymple is thorough and the material is valuable to help the reader clarify the intricacies of the story to come.  

 So, if you want a window on the anatomy of incompetent administrations and their ugly consequences, on the helplessness of the common soldier or political agent, on the bloodthirsty militarism of post Napoleonic Europe and on the proud but vengeful culture of Afghanistan and central Asia in those old, though not so long ago, days of international Empire building at the point of a bayonet, read this account and weep.

 Thankyou Mr Dalrymple, lest we should ever forget.   


Julian McKean


Would you like to work in our library?

Would you like to join the team at Dannevirke Library as a library assistant!  Full details and how to apply are online at Tararua District Council.  Applications close 30 October 2015.

Here’s an idea of what to expect. The modern public library is a community hub. Here, you’ll find people of all ages and from all backgrounds, demographics, and socio-economic situations. If you’re not fond of human interaction and noise, then this probably isn’t the job for you!

library assistantHowever, if you’re fond of collaboration, community, and making a difference in the lives of everyday people, then this just might be your dream job.




Modern librarians need the following skills to do their job effectively:

•technologically informed
•confident communicators
•adaptable and open to constant change
•dedicated to professionalism
•committed to lifelong learning

Read more about the library life at

What if Hitler had won?

Had Heir Hitler not been a megalomaniac who made arrogantly stupid strategic mistakes, he might well have won World War II in the early 1940’s. I don’t know what the outcome would have been for New Zealanders but I’m pretty sure my life would have ended in my mid-teens. I felt no personal fear of that outcome at the time but once Hitler’s Final Solution for European Jews became known, in all its incredible horror, it became quite clear that the Jewish people of the British Isles would have suffered  the same fate as all those in Continental Europe.

thread graceThese thoughts returned as I read “A thread of grace” by Mary Doria Russell whose later fictional tale of Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp, I have reviewed also. ‘A thread of grace’ is a fictional tale based on the little known fact that many thousands of Jewish refugees managed to struggle up and over the Maritime Alps which run between Southern France and Northern Italy in order to escape the Nazi killers. Once in Italy they found that despite the recent capitulation of the Italian Government and the death of Benito Mussolini, the German armies had taken control and they were fighting furiously to hold back the British and American forces which now had a foothold on the heel of Italy.

This is the story of the people  involved in the struggle to survive, the fight to beat the Germans and the cat and mouse game of hiding the Jewish families throughout the Italian countryside. Amidst a desperate situation the courage of good people gives hope to those on the run. Mary Doria Russell spent several years researching this little known aspect of the war and she has produced a work of drama, warmth , humility and insight.

It is deserving of a wide readership. There have been a flood of novels about various aspects of World War II since 1945 but this one is well worth reading as it highlights the sacrificial ability of ordinary farming people  who saved the lives of so many while the allies fought even more sacrificially to rid the world of fascism and the madness that was Hitler.

– Larry

What is Labour Day about?

On Monday 26th October 2015, all our libraries will be closed for Labour Day. Most of us take his holiday for granted, but what’s it all about?

labour-dayBasically, Labour Day commemorates the struggle for an eight-hour working day in New Zealand.  We were one of the first countries in the world to establish an eight-hour day thanks to the efforts of carpenter Samuel Parnell who first won the right to an eight-hour day in 1840.

The first Labour Day was marked on 28 October 1890, by trade union members and some Government employees.  Although workers in some industries had long enjoyed an eight-hour day, it was not a legal entitlement. Other workers, including seamen, farm labourers, and hotel, restaurant and shop employees, still worked longer hours.

However, the Liberal Government made the day a public holiday with the Labour Day Act of 1899, and it was first celebrated by all workers in 1900. It was ‘Mondayised’ in 1910. By the 1920s, Labour Day was regarded as just another holiday, as the influence of the Liberals faded. (Some information sourced from a web feature written by Neill Atkinson and produced by the team)

New Zealanders continue to enjoy an eight-hour day in most cases, although many workers still put in longer hours.  Interestingly, Sweden has recently announced they will be moving to six-hour workdays on a trial basis.  The idea is that most employees can still achieve the same amount of work (and presumably therefore receive the same monetary reward) when they know the day is shorter so they will be more focused and take fewer breaks.  Read more

How weird are your sisters?

I am not a deep reader.  I dislike books with hidden depths, subtle meanings and sub-plots so delicately written I miss them altogether as I crash elephant-like through my reading. I love to read, to immerse myself in a well written story that grips me and leaves me smiling. I consider my reading material somewhat like a desert littered with lots of bodice rippers and dark brooding anti heroes.

weird sistersOccasionally I stumble upon an oasis of a book, so beautifully written and engaging that I forget I have the reading palette of a 16-year-old and fall into it whole heartedly. Don’t get me wrong, I cannot abide badly written prose and I’m sure I have waxed lyrical on  many occasions about poorly written book conversations, but I will turn again and again to a rollicking love story or gun blazing action book before thinking about reading a grown up book.

So it was when a very intelligent and well-read friend lent me a copy of “The Weird Sisters” by Eleanor Brown. It sat on my table for a week or two while I consumed the fluff I had borrowed from the library. When I deemed there was nothing else to read I picked it up, expecting a thoroughly grown up read way above my brain capacity. What I got was a wonderful story about three sisters, all with their characters and places in the world firmly written, drawn together at stages in their lives where disaster and disgrace pulled them home.

I have two sisters and I think Ms Brown may have spied upon us so recognisable were the characters. This book is a gentle flow through their lives, granting us a glimpse into their thoughts and desires. If you have a sister you will recognise the pull of jealousy, envy and even hate that touches our family relationships. The sisters have to accept the grown up changes in each other and come to an understanding about themselves and their place in the family.

I loved it, so much so that I consumed this book in one setting and when I closed the last page I stroked the cover in thanks for a good read. The bi-line on the cover sums it up perfectly –“See we love each other, we just don’t happen to like each other very much.” This is a grown up book, but there is no violence, gratuitous sex or gun battles, it is simply a window into the life of sisters and how they fit into the family and I am a happier sister for reading it.



The sex lives of Siamese twins

I blame it on the cover. It’s a bit confronting.  What I mean is that “The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins” by Irvine Welsh has hardly been issued during it’s few years in the library, and I think it’s because people take the title literally.
sex livesBut as this review from Fishpond says, this novel is actually about two separate women. “When Lucy Brennan, a Miami Beach personal-fitness trainer, disarms a gunman chasing two frightened homeless men, the police and the breaking-news cameras are not far behind and, within hours, Lucy is a media hero. The solitary eye-witness is the depressed and overweight Lena Sorensen, who becomes obsessed with Lucy and signs up as her client – though she seems more interested in the trainer’s body than her own. When the two women find themselves more closely aligned, and can’t stop thinking about the sex lives of Siamese twins, the real problems start…In the aggressive, foul-mouthed trainer, Lucy Brennan, and the needy, manipulative Lena Sorensen, Irvine Welsh has created two of his most memorable female protagonists, and one of the most bizarre, sado-masochistic folies a deux in contemporary fiction. Featuring murder, depravity and revenge – and enormous amounts of food and sex – The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins taps into two great obsessions of our time – how we look and where we live – and tells a story so subversive and dark it blacks out the Florida sun.”
Doesn’t sound so bad does it?  But still.  I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by it, but I am. Sorry Irvine.

Kiwi Brilliance

“Brilliance” by Anthony McCarten is brilliant indeed. A short novel at 217 pages, it never-the-less tells a remarkable story based on the real life personalities of Thomas Alva Edison & J

Andrew McCarten

Andrew McCarten

Pierpoint Morgan – the inventor & business man extraordinary.

Edison had produced the electric light bulb using direct current. Nikolas Teslar, a European, had found a way to make the bulb last much longer by using alternating current. The two men could not agree but Edison had the backing of Morgan, the millionaire.

“ Brilliance” is an account of how Edison got caught up into the world of big business; how he devised the electric chair with the aim of ruining the reputation of his business rival George Westinghouse; and how, as a result, his self-esteem and his role as one of the world’s great inventors are called into question. This is an excellent piece of work by a New Zealand author best-known for his play ‘Ladies Night’, and his Bafta winning script for the film ‘The theory of everything’.

– Larry

Jack the Ripper – was he one of a pair?

The unsolved case of Jack the Ripper has long interested me, which is why I chose “Mayhem” by Sarah Pinborough to read, as I thought it was about that.  In actual fact, although Jack is referenced, the book is more about the other unsolved (true) murders of the same time, the Rainham murders.

It was quite coincidental as I’d recently read about these crimes, where multiple dismembered corpses where found in London. There are theories that Rainham and Jack were the same person, and others feel they were two separate people, or perhaps a competing “team”.

Sarah Pinborough

Sarah Pinborough

The main character in ‘Mayhem” is Dr Thomas Bond who is the police surgeon for New Scotland Yard in 1889, and has worked on the Jack the Ripper cases.  It begins with part of a corpse being found in the foundations of the new police building, seemingly without any witnesses.  This is not the first case – several dismembered human parts have been found in the Thames River recently..  Many think it must be Jack the Ripper, but Dr Bond feels that the crimes have been committed by two separate people,  and that Jack pales in comparision to this new evildoer.

Plagued by insomnia brought on by the horrors of Jack, Dr Bond turns to the opium dens in Whitechapel for some release, where he meets a strange Polish priest who is tracking an evil being called an Upir.  The legend is that the Upir lives in a river until it can possess a body and gradually take control of it – using the host to commit murder for the purpose of consuming flesh.  Soon unstable Polish immigrant Aaron Kosminski joins their group – he has suffered predictive visions all his life and can sense the growing evil in London.

Meanwhile, the police are no closer to solving either case. Suspicion falls on Kosminski – after all, he is viewed as mad – and eventually even on the Doctor himself when it becomes known that he is visiting Whitechapel late at night. Can they identify the Upir and stop it before the situation escalates out of control, or will the police pin these crimes on one of their group?

I have to admit that it took me three attempts to finish this book. Originally I couldn’t get past the first few chapters, due to the extremely gory descriptions. But after that, it became quite engrossing and the character development was very well done.  During the time I was reading it, news was also released that someone had “proven” that Kosminski was in fact, Jack the Ripper, using DNA evidence found on an old shawl once possessed by a ripper victim. Which gave me more incentive to read on, to see what this book said about Kosminski.  Personally, I feel that such a claim cannot be made – really, all that proves is that a piece of material that was present at the crime scene, was also present at a time when Kosminski may have had “relations” with a prostitute.  The two events did not necessarily occur at the same time!  But that is a story for another, soon to be released, book I believe.

– Natalie

Learn more about the Rainham Murders


What’s ballooning got to do with life?

I picked up a very slim volume, Levels of Life by Julian Barnes, at the library recently. So slim that I read it that afternoon in a couple of hours. I was attracted to it by its authors name – Julian Barnes. I know Mr Barnes to be an excellent writer, one of whose books is an all-time favourite of mine called Arthur and George, and is like the one I am reviewing now, fact not fiction.

levels of life“Levels of life” is one of those books that defy categorising. If I said it was a short- not a lot more than 100 pages- memoir describing his grief at the loss of his much loved wife, linked in a peculiar way to hot air ballooning by such ballooniators, as they are called, as Sarah Bernhardt, the great and scandalous actress and a certain Captain Fred Barnaby, who yearned to be her lover but did not succeed – that brief description would not begin to explain what is compelling about this little book. It will, of course, speak particularly to people like me, a widower twice over and to all who have lost a loved one and felt the loneliness and emptiness that that death has left in its wake.

But this is not a man wallowing in self-pity, nor is he able to find any religious or spiritual solace. He realises that the only way to deal with his grief is to keep the memory of Pat, his wife of 29 years, alive in his own constant remembrances of her.

This is a little book but it deals with a big theme, how to handle heavy grief.  His way may not be yours or mine but his sincerity in this at-times moving account, cannot be denied. How he connects the real life people involved in the early days of ballooning with his own peculiar story and feelings, I leave you to find out. It might be a very worthwhile couple of hours if you choose, like me, to give Julian Barnes your time.

– Larry


‘Disappearing world’ disappointing

You’d think that with a title like “Disappearing world : the Earth’s most extraordinary and endangered places” by Alonzo Addison,  this book would have been fascinating.  As an overall subject this book is unique and interesting and the information and knowledge included is excellent, but as a read, I found it boring with a capital BORE.

This book really, really, really tries to tell us of the importance of these places both culturally and historically. But, to be honest, this book would have more success in cutting down the number of subjects and include more information on each of those.

As a person who has a total interest in this subject, even I was thinking by the end “why save them?” Anyone who picks up this book is, I believe, wanting to know why these places are unique and why we should save them – looking for that entire arm waving, placard hoisting information that calls people to arms.

Unfortunately, the messages this book imparted to me were; humans suck at running the world and haven’t got any better (any Greenpeace pamphlet can tell you that) ; the world is coming to an end and we will lose these treasures (cue the scientists); we really haven’t tried enough and never will get it right (hi the doomsayers) without money (the capitalist and economist club). That’s not what I wanted to read about!

This book is like the Titanic or a rare fine wine, a little late and historically boring, we are left with a wreck or a glass of vinegar. As always this is totally my opinion and I’m willing to be proved wrong.


Something to ease the blow:

How to be less critical

Brené Brown: How To Be Less Critical  (Huffington Post, 28 March 2014)

The author of Daring Greatly, who’s launching Part 2 of the groundbreaking The Gifts of Imperfection e-course, on why we should stop criticizing others.

First, the bad news: If you have a fondness for snarky jabs — and believe me, most of us take pleasure in the occasional barb — this column might ruin your fun. The good news is that understanding how and why we judge others, and trading that judgment for a little empathy and self-compassion, can bring more joy to our lives, families and relationships.

Most of us don’t realize how often we judge: We gossip about our boss’s new boyfriend, we look down on our neighbors’ parenting — the list goes on. One way to become more aware of how we judge is to understand why: We’re often motivated by a need to compare ourselves favorably with the people around us. We tend to judge others in areas where we feel most vulnerable or not good enough. If I’m constantly worried about being a great mother, I might be quicker to look down on another mom who misses the school play. When a colleague recently rescheduled a meeting for the second time, I found myself rolling my eyes; I had no compassion to extend, because I was still beating myself up for flaking on a work event the week before. In these moments, we take unconscious refuge in the thought, “At least I’m better than someone.”

You might be wondering whether a little judginess is always a bad thing. After all, sometimes it’s really satisfying to point out that others are screwing up! But judgment kills empathy. And empathy is what fuels trust and intimacy. How can we walk in others’ shoes when we’re busy judging those shoes?

It starts with showing compassion for ourselves. Only when we feel comfortable with our own choices — and embrace our own imperfections — will we stop feeling the driving need to criticize others.

critic quote

The Dare

Be mindful. Be awake to what you’re thinking, feeling, and saying — and why. It might seem awkward at first, but the next time you feel judgmental, stop and ask yourself, “What’s really going on here?”

Change your inner monologue. When I canceled that work event, I told myself, “You’re a slacker. You’re not dependable.” Had I said, “Life happens, Brené,” I might have been more empathic when my colleague moved our meeting.

Make a pact with a friend or a family member. Declare a judgment-free week — or, if you’re feeling brave, a month. There will be long periods of silence; it’s a shocker when you realize how much “connecting” we do by talking about others. But asking someone you trust to join you will help keep you accountable — and help you change the subject.

– submitted by Leilani

Spotlight on depression

Having been depressed before, I believe I will feel normal again, but in the meantime, it’s bloody rough going

People say Williams 'lost his battle' with mental illness, as though he wasn't trying hard enough. Photo / AP

People say Williams ‘lost his battle’ with mental illness, as though he wasn’t trying hard enough.  Photo / AP
(NOTE: it has since been revealed that Williams was suffering from Lewy Dementia)    

I had last week off because I’m ill. I was going to say mentally ill, but I prefer just ill. It doesn’t sound like I could just think my way out of it.

This is my life now. I get up in the morning and the first thing I do is take my pills. They don’t work yet. It may take a couple of weeks, the doctor says. I hope it’s soon. I’ve torn my fingernails to painful shreds so it even hurts to type this. When did I even do that?

Life has been a bit of a blur, what with the lack of eating and sleeping. I have a thigh gap, for the first time in my life, but it’s not like I care. I no longer wear eye makeup, because well, it is only going to come off, even though I can only have secret cries because I don’t want to upset the children.

The car is good for a cry when I’m driving on my own and I quite like leaning on walls when I am at home alone.

Spotty the dog is dying of cancer, though – I give him his pills before mine, wrapped in a slice of Chesdale cheese – so I tell her that is why I’m sad. And sorry, I’m aware this will be an annoying column to all those readers who think newspapers should only be full of politics, crime and austere facts. You people can look away now, or go and clean your car with a toothbrush. Because although everyone says that there is no longer a stigma about talking about mental illness these days, there is. I feel a bit trepidatious writing this, and you know how much I overshare. But I figure there might be some other people out there, like me, who are also just waiting for the pills to work – thousands of them, actually. And like me, they might be putting on a show of being okay most of the time.

The other thing is that last week, after Robin Williams died, there was a debate online about what depression is. And it seems you have to have depression in the “right” way (can’t get out of bed, totally incapacitated, feeling nothing rather than the second order emotion of feeling sad). If you are managing to still do the online grocery shopping you can’t be depressed; it’s just middle-class brattism or executive sulking.

When someone says people grieve in their own way, it means someone is grieving like a dick. Actually depression comes in different guises. My psychiatrist says I have major depression with a mixed affective state. I have put up what’s called a manic defence, which means instead of lying in bed all day, I am agitated and with hypomania, reduced need for food and sleep; this is a futile attempt not to feel the desolation. If I stop, the darkness closes in.

“Action is the antidote to despair,” Joan Baez said, although she might not have been talking about folding washing. I have given up all the work stuff I used to do – university, being on the school board, all that – but I will keep writing this column with my ragged fingernails, as long as the editor will let me.

I’ve been depressed before and come out of it, so I’m holding on to my belief that I will feel normal again one of these days and won’t wake up every night crying. But the discussion around the death of Robin Williams was framed as if he had “lost his battle” with depression, as if depression was a fight you could win if you just tried hard enough. I sometimes think the opposite is true.

When I’ve been depressed before, I’ve come out of it only after I have stopped trying to fight it; stopped trying to numb myself with negronis; stopped fighting the aching truth of my circumstances, stopped intellectually trying to understand it. Look into the abyss. Lean in to the pain, welcome the hurt, loss is just change. You cannot make someone love you, cause others to change, expect the world to be fair or control what others say and do. Man, it’s just so bloody painful, though.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
CASPER Suicide Prevention
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

Excellent helpful blog Therese Borchard

– by Deborah Cone Hill.  Source ( NZ Herald 18 August 2014.


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