Ramblings of a much published New Zealand author

31 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Springbok Rugby Tour Protests

In 1981 South Africa's Springboks came to New Zealand to play our All Blacks at rugby union. Two nations devoted to the sport, but two nations with vastly different racial attitudes. The South Africans classified our Maori as black and so, with apartheid the order of their day, our Maori were not accepted in the Union.

Consequently anti-racial protesters in New Zealand wanted nothing to do with the Springboks; they protested strongly against the 1981 tour and in time honoured fashion daubed their 'Subvert The Tour' slogans on other people's property. New Zealanders who wanted nothing to do with anti-race protest but just wanted to see some games of rugby between two highly competitive teams took their turn with similarly vandalistic graffiti 'Support The Tour'. 

Slogans such as these appeared up and down the country. The ones in my illustrations were on roadside sheds quite close to each other on the main highway near Warkworth; still visible six years after the event.

History finally had its say: apartheid fizzled and now the Springboks and All Blacks compete with mixed race teams. It's drawings like mine that will remind us of a different time not so long ago.

 © DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


30 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: History at Warkworth




In 1987 riverside Warkworth, seventy kilometres north of Auckland, was a comfortable town just east of the main north road, a shopping centre for various adjacent beaches and farms. Its history goes back earlier than official colonial settlement to about 1829 when ships came to the Mahurangi River to get timber for spars.

There is a number of old buildings, not least a brace of good pubs and a courthouse, but two in particular caught my eye: one was the 1863 Masonic Lodge made of wood to look like stone and then painted to look like wood, and the other Broomfield House, built in 1870 which I sketched in black and white because I liked it better that way.


Warkworth is busier but less comfortable in 2010. It has become very popular and its main street is almost as dangerous for pedestrians as Queen Street, Auckland.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


27 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Helensville Quality Meats


  

This kind of retail butchery is a very rare sight in New Zealand post millennium; there are but few left. But when, in 1997, I sketched this old fashioned shop with its brick inserts and hygienic-looking white tiles it was not uncommon; it warranted, I felt, inclusion in our book about things kiwi. 

These days most urban and suburban folk get their meat from the supermarket but when the founder of Helensville Quality Meats set up his shop (about 1900?) he was soooo proud of that ornate exterior with the one word 'BUTCHER' moulded into the plaster.

He must have known that the shop would outlive him.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

26 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: LPG Shed at Helensville





It seems unbelievable in 2010 that this shed could have been in existence in 1987. These days it would be highly illegal containing, as it did then, cylinders of liquefied petroleum gas protected only by a feeble warning sign and a hopelessly inadequate padlock.

To me as an artist it not only expressed a practical New Zealand oddity but also a very 'drawable' subject! It was near Helensville, at the south end of the huge Kaipara Harbour. I've often wondered what happened to it; it could have exploded, of course...

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

24 December 2010

The Christmas Tui



This beautiful bird is the New Zealand Tui which the early European settlers called the Parson Bird because of the white tuft of feathers above its breast. Maori bird names are often   onomatopaeic which, in the case of the tui, very much suggests its mellifuous song.

At the close of the year, which is early summer in New Zealand, the native flax bush phormium tenax thrusts a spear skywards whose flowers are rich with nectar. Tui cannot resist the honey and come to sip from the flowers; while doing so their foreheads collect pollen which they then carry to the next flax bush and so pollinate the flora.

This tui landed on a flax spear just outside our sitting room window and I was not only lucky to photograph him so clearly but also while he was in mid-song. I was intrigued to see that the feathers on his head rose as he sang; I had never seen that before.

To anybody reading this blog post I and my wife send a Christmas greeting for 
25 December 2010.

© DON DONOVAN 
donovan@ihug.co.nz

23 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Dargaville Post Office






When I did this watercolour of the Dargaville Post Office it was just that. But, as with so many Post Offices in New Zealand, it was later de-commissioned and is now an office complex listed in the top category of the NZ Historic Places Trust. Saved, but just another example of how NZ Post has lost its pride and lost its way.

It was built in 1914 and was then probably the most substantial building in a town that otherwise had little else of note and was declining after years of comfort associated with the exploitation of kauri forest and kauri gum deposits.

It's an interesting place, Dargaville, before any decent roads were built it was possible to travel there from Auckland by way of Riverhead (near Coatesville), portage over the hills to Helensville, and then by barge up the huge Kaipara Harbour to Dargaville on the Wairoa River and thereby into darkest Northland. Terra incognita.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


16 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Pakiri Beach







I was somewhat mortified to find this unfriendly private beach at Pakiri, north of Leigh on the eastern side of the north Auckland peninsula, I had fondly believed that the beaches of New Zealand were open to all - after all, in 1987, our population was little more that 3.5 million with plenty of space to share.

What made me even sadder was to see this crude warning attached to a fence that was rusty and in disrepair, an obvious indication that however jealously the beach's owners might have guarded their property, they didn't care much for it.

Our book was designed to present some typical aspects of our country and this scene didn't quite fit - but maybe I was making a protest!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

13 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Windmill Roadsigns at Matakohe







In 1987, when I was working on the Northland section on 'New Zealand Odyssey' I found this piece of landmark roadside sculpture which reminded me of John Piper's and John Betjeman's 'Tree of Knowledge'. There's a wealth of information here. The museum is famous for its history of kauri forestry and gum-digging around the north Kaipara area and the Coates Memorial church honours New Zealand's first native-born prime minister.

Then again, the Maori names are descriptive: Tinopai means 'very good'; Hukatere = 'driven foam'; Matakohe = 'headland of the kohekohe tree'; and Taparoa = 'long spear'. Dargaville isn't Maori, of course, it was named after an Irish immigrant called Joseph Dargaville.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

12 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Roadside stalls, Northland




  

Misleading information and creative spelling characterize many roadside sales sites in New Zealand. Some are more permanent than others. Both of these were in Northland. The more established of the two promised tomatoes but offered only pumpkins. The temporary one on the trailer not only offered bulk wine at $5.00 a 'flagen' but also presented a few boxes of locally grown oranges at, apparently, no fixed price!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

11 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Whakapara - Maori protest





This roadside shed was at Whakapara in Northland. In 1987, when I did this sketch, New Zealand was going through yet another period of Maori dissatisfaction as a result of the failure of a tribunal properly to reconcile perceived Waitangi Treaty grievances. Many Maori activists in the 1980s stopped asking for the founding treaty to be honoured and instead argued that it was a fraudulent document. They argued that Maori had been tricked in 1840 by the British and that consequently the New Zealand government had no right to sovereignty over the country.

This all came over 140 years after the signing of the treaty, at a time when Maori constituted about 12% of the New Zealand population. Many citizens wondered what Maori would do if they became an elite sovereign class - kick out all the descendents of the colonists, and return to the Stone Age?

As a result of anger on the part of the protesting minority, graffiti appeared on many public (and in this case, private) buildings and it was hard to decide whether they were justified as signs of anger or just plain vandalism.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz



08 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: School Buses, Hikurangi







While I painted these particular school buses at Hikurangi, north of Whangarei in Northland, they could have come from just about anywhere in New Zealand. Twice a day, our country roads are populated by motley fleets of student-laden coaches, mostly drawn from local contracting companies. Some of them are smart, some smoke like tramp steamers. These three old ladies had an elephantine look about them; I got the impression that they might be having a slanderous conversation!

Hikurangi was a coal mining town until 1971, it also had quite a substantial dairy factory serving the surrounding cattle farmers. Its intriguing area of limestone outcrops still distinguishes an otherwise modest town long ago by-passed by the main highway to the north.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

06 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Whangarei Town Hall


  

When I painted this imposing edifice in 1987 I was not only attracted to its important-looking shape but also to its colour - entirely inappropriate, I thought, for a public building. 

I imagine that some penny-pinching treasurer of city hall finances discovered a warehouse full of old green paint and bought the lot.

It's still there (well it would be, wouldn't it?) but I'm pleased to tell that it's been re-painted much more compassionately.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


05 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: The National Bank, Waipu


  
It was ever necessary for banks to look reliable and unassailable; how else could you get the locals' trust? When this building was put up it was probably one of the most serious and pompous in the town. Waipu's an interesting Northland settlement; it was founded in 1853 by just over a hundred Scots who came here, via Nova Scotia, Adelaide, Melbourne and the Victorian goldfields. 

When other Nova Scotians heard of the settlement nearly a further nine hundred came here, too. It's worth stopping a while in Waipu and checking up on its history - some pretty weird things happened here!

I went a bit overboard painting the bank, vide some migrating wet-in-wet watercolours! But it gives the character to the building as it was in 1987. I expect its gone by now.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


02 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Kemp House, Kerikeri


  

At Kerikeri in Northland this, the Kemp House, is the oldest dwelling in New Zealand having been built in 1822. James Kemp, who died aged 74 in 1872, was a missionary who took up residence in 1832. The Kemp family lived there for the next 142 years and it was probably because of their long ownership that the house has survived.

The usual view of Kemp House is full frontal which shows it as a box with a roof. My drawing, from the side, is unusual but, I think, more interesting, more shapely, especially as it shows the lean-to at the back which was added in 1834, and the latest version of the verandah which has been renewed twice.

For the technique-minded, I did this drawing in sepia because it gave date to the subject much in the style of a nineteenth century photograph.

© DON DONOVAN
donvan@ihug.co.nz


01 December 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Opua's Tourist Train Loco



  

I couldn't resist drawing this steam engine at Opua in the Bay of Islands. It was (and still might be) used to pull the tourist train from Kawakawa to Opua, where the ferries leave regularly to make a short cut to Russell, saving a road trip of about 110km.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz





30 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Treaty House, Waitangi



  
This is a much recorded subject in New Zealand history but I doubt that many pictures of the treaty house are from behind. I wanted to be different and so, instead of a formal single storey mansion with pillars, I painted this modest back entrance with its wings and out-houses.

The building is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by New Zealand's first governor, William Hobson RN, and chiefs of various tribes of Maori in 1840. The treaty, while the founding document of co-existence between Europeans and Maori, has led to continuous, but relatively peaceable, dispute ever since.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


29 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Maori Grave Board, Waimate North


  

In 1987, while exploring the churchyard of St. John the Baptist, Waimate North, I came across this fascinating grave board. It's Maori, completely made of wood and carved in a European rather than Maori design. There's an aspirational feel to it; it strives heavenwards as church steeples and spires do. 

The inscription commemorates a chiefly man who was born in 1830 (i.e. pre-European colonization) and died at 70 in 1900. This man was born before Anglicanism took hold in Northland and died a Christian. I have always been amazed at how quickly Maori took to this new faith. 

Perhaps the most appealing aspect for me, illustrating a book about New Zealand, was that nowhere else in the world could such a grave marker be found.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz






28 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Russell, Bay of Islands

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings. 


This charming house was (and may still be) called 'The Moorings'. It looks across the narrow lane that fronts Russell and over a stretch of harbour to Paihia. Russell - known as Kororareka (sweet, or tasty blue penguin in Maori) was briefly capital of New Zealand when most of the early European activity took place in this area. It was also once known as 'the hell hole of the South Pacific' where sealers, whalers and informal colonists lived lawlessly.

There's a modern dimension to Russell that reminded me of Cornish fishing villages: intimate and tranquil. The hideous public lavatory on the beach has a guardian cannon alongside, no doubt to stop people like me from trying to demolish the local council monstrosity.


© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz



26 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Rawene Hardware





I find this sort of subject irresistible. The weatherboards are distorted, there is an almost complete absence of rectangles, and the site must have caused the builders so many problems that they might be considered sculptors rather than constructors!

The street on the left is flat and runs by the waterside of the Hokianga Harbour, the hill on the other side is so steep that it takes a lot to imagine where the ground floor actually is. I drew it in about 1987; I'm not sure that the building still exists.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

25 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: The Four Square Store at Rawene





This watercolour was done from the vehicle ramp that gives access to the car ferry to Kohukohu on the Hokianga Harbour. It was a fascinating collage of corrugated iron, its roof a patchwork, and that odd panel on the green wall between the window and that hideous Four Square man - was it once a door, or another window?

As for the ugly man himself: he's a symbol that appears on Four Square grocery stores throughout New Zealand. His very grotesqueness has made him 'iconic'. Indeed, one of this country's most fashionable artists, Dick Frizzell, has made as much use of him as Andy Warhol did of the Campbell's Soup tin.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

New Zealand Odyssey: Lynne's Place, Awanui






Awanui is the last substantial township in Northland before you take the long peninsula to Cape Reinga. This shop, combined with a 'gum diggers trading post', and wood turning facility took my eye because of its ramshackleness caused by so many layers of addition and alteration that the original building is almost engulfed. (The gable might be original). 

I did this drawing in about 1987; I doubt if the shop still exists.

Gum diggers were like itinerant gold miners, a lot of them came from Dalmatia. They used to probe swampy ground with long poles hoping to strike lumps of resin - gum - deposited as exudations from ancient Kauri trees. The gum was an important constituent of resin-based products like varnishes and paints. It's still found but I doubt that, in the face of new chemical technologies, it has the value it once had.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz


24 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Rawene Courthouse

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.


Many provincial New Zealand towns have a 'wild west' look about them - all fronts and lesser backs. Rawene's court house gains a new character when seen from an opposite alley whose buildings are of the standard, cheap, ubiquitous, nationally-revered building material - corrugated iron; in this case much dented and over-painted. Graphically, I found the combination completely satisfying.

The court house was built in 1875. It was about 112 years old when I did this watercolour.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz






23 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Masonic Hall, Kohukohu








In the late-ish 1980s Kohukohu, on the northern shore of the Hokianga Harbour, had a tired and remote feel about it, coupled with an almost tropical air of bush-growth fecundity. Old buildings were falling apart and one had the impression that if the hamlet were not the terminus of the Rawene to Kohukohu car ferry the town would have died years ago after having exhausted its surrounding kauri forests.

The masonic hall looked a bit rickety (very appealing) and was evidence of the self-importance local businessmen and dignitaries might have imbued themselves with in the nineteenth century.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

22 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Monday's Washing, Oruaiti



  

'New Zealand Odyssey' was all about everyday things that distinguish this country, some unique, some commonplace. What could be more ordinary than Monday's washing blowing in a drying wind? And yet in how many places in the world would you find that much washing in such a grand, open landscape?

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

21 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Urupa, Mangamuka

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by Don Donovan (who did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.



I found this cameo near the inland waters of the Hokianga Harbour, western Northland. Urupa is Maori for cemetery and in the corner of this one was this rusty tin shed, an oil drum and some lovely carvings of traditional tongue-protruding heads with paua shell eyes.

I have never been quite sure why they might have been there, they looked to me like interior pilasters from Maori meeting houses. Perhaps they were on their way to decorate a building somewhere in Mangamuka for they would certainly not have served as grave markers.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

20 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Kaeo Post Office







Kaeo is a small town near Whangaroa Harbour. It was established around a Methodist mission in 1823 but destroyed by marauding Maori in 1827. Somehow or other the town revived (despite a propensity to flood quite regularly). The post office still functioned in this building in the late 1980s but New Zealand Post lost its pride in the face of email and the Internet and the old building is now a museum.

For me as an illustrator the building held much charm; I never did like straight lines!

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

18 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Cape Reinga





The book started in Northland and works its way, zig-zaggy, south. Cape Reinga is at the extreme northern tip of New Zealand's North Island, almost but not quite farthest north. The lighthouse was built in 1941 and overlooks the restless confrontation of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. I wasn't so much interested in illustrating the lighthouse as in showing its remoteness; in 1988 the road to it along the peninsula was long, dusty, rough and tortuous. (These days it's an easy trip).

Maori tradition has it that from the cape the spirits of the dead depart to return to their ancestral homeland, Hawaiki. Although Maori were the first human inhabitants of Aotearoa (New Zealand) they, like every other human and not a few birds and animals, are  of immigrant stock.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

17 November 2010

New Zealand Odyssey: Omanaia

'New Zealand Odyssey', published in 1989 by Heinemann, was authored by me, Don Donovan (I did the text and illustrations) and Euan Sarginson, who did the photography and design. In this series of blog posts, I will publish some of my drawings.

The first illustration was of this 1884 Maori Methodist church on a hill near a village school in Northland not far from Rawene on the Hokianga Harbour. A simple, colonial style porch and nave building, at the time I illustrated it (C1986) it was well-used but looking tired.

© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

10 November 2010

My Books: The Wastings


This was my first novel. It is set in no specifically named location (but nearly all of its locations are in New Zealand) during the boom years before and after the stockmarket crash in the 1980s, a time of nouveaux riches and great economic and political change.

The villain and main character is Morgan Campbell-Pye. The story begins when the author, a distant cousin and sole beneficiary of Campbell-Pye’s, finds, when putting the deceased’s affairs in order, a computer disk that contains a chilling portrait of Campbell-Pye as a killer whose sense of perfection compelled him to devise a series of perfect murders.

Campbell-Pye's story concerns his desire to belong to the Thursday Club, a group of high-status businessmen who meet socially for lunch on Thursdays. One of its members recruits a group of eight men from the Thursday Club to start a ‘tontine’ in which they each put $30,000 into a communal pot for investing; the tontine is to run for fifteen years, and if anyone dies his share is left in the portfolio.

When Philip Lawson, one of the tontine members, commits suicide, Campbell-Pye fantasizes about the possibility of the other members dying, leaving him sole beneficiary of the fund. It occurs to him that he could achieve this by murdering the others - believing that the prospect of pecuniary advantage appeals to him less than the intellectual challenge of devising undetectable murders.

With time on his side - the tontine has another twelve years to run before it matures - Campbell-Pye kills the other members of the tontine one by one, planning the murders in such a way that they cannot be traced back to him.

The Wastings is a study of a man who is obsessive and deluded.

***

Colin Dexter, author of the Inspector Morse stories wrote this letter to me after having read 'The Wastings':



'456 Banbury Road, Oxford

'Dear Don,

'A very brief line to say how much (yes!) I enjoyed and admired The Wastings. So did my wife. So did my daughter. A lovely idea & a beautifully written work. You've made a splendid debut in crime fiction. More please!

'Good luck with your opus secundum.

'Colin Dexter'



This book is still available through Amazon, ABEBooks and second hand booksellers. I also have a few copies left.

© DON DONOVAN

donovan@ihug.co.nz

07 November 2010

My Books: Open 7 Days

I wanted to record, in watercolours, the old colonial stores that had served New Zealand communities for many years. But I was almost too late and had to extend this collection to include some colourful local corner dairies, many of which are run as family businesses.

Stores that sold everything to closely knit, local populations were killed off by the motor car, good roads and supermarkets. But there were a few left when I toured New Zealand seeking them, and I think I got most of them in this collection which was published by Random Century.

'Open 7 Days' has been out of print for many years but copies can still be found at ABE books, TradeMe, E Bay and many second hand bookshops.

© DON DONOVAN

donovan@ihug.co.nz

01 November 2010

My Books: New Zealand House & Cottage


Saint Publishing published this book and, associated with it, a number of calendars on the same theme. The subjects are from all over the country, the oldest dating back to the very beginnings of colonized New Zealand (mid-nineteenth century).

The front cover illustration (above) is of 'The Cuddy' a thatched cottage built by the Studholme family at Waimate in the South Island. The labrador is the modern Studholmes' friendly pet, the lady patting the dog is my wife, Patricia, who helped me enormously with all of the books I have written.

I should be so lucky!

New Zealand House & Cottage has been out of print for a long time but still turns up in second hand bookshops and websites like ABE books. Also on TradeMe and EBay. I have none left for sale.

© DON DONOVAN

donovan@ihug.co.nz

30 October 2010

My Books: Political Animals


This description, from a bookseller's catalogue, sums up this collection published by New Holland:

'All humans,' claimed Aristotle, "are political animals." This fetching collection of animal portraits, ranging from crocs and hawks to koalas, buzzards, lions and more, combined with (mostly unintentionally) [NO - intentionally!] entertaining quotations from the world's politicians serves as an enjoyable reminder of the all-too-human qualities of the political animals who are, or have been, in charge. Each spread features an animal portrait juxtaposed with a quotation from the likes of Dan Quayle, Richard Nixon, Maggie Thatcher, Adlai Stevenson, John Howard, Idi Amin and many others.

While out of print, this book might still be available from your average bookshop or from ABE books, or even the odd copy left in my collection.

donovan@ihug.co.nz

27 October 2010

My Books: The Farmyard Wisdom Collection







These books have sold like hot cakes all over the western world. They are collections of my photographs of the various animals - sheep, chickens, pigs and cattle - with appropriate quotations by famous and infamous people.






They were published by New Holland Limited in New Zealand as light-hearted gift books, Christmas stocking fillers of no great literary consequence!





 While I enjoyed photographing subjects for three of the books, 'Pig Tales' took me to some pretty awful places. Some of the pictures I took along the way were unpublishable as the conditions in which the animals were kept were disgraceful.




I travelled all over New Zealand taking the pictures and yet, ironically, the front cover of 'Woolly Wisdom' was taken no more than fifty metres from my house.


All these books are still on sale in bookshops, from Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, 
Mighty Ape etc etc. 
Trade enquiries may be made to 
New Holland Publishers worldwide.


© DON DONOVAN
donovan@ihug.co.nz

26 October 2010

My Books: The Good Old Kiwi Pub

I had a marvellous time writing and illustrating this book because it took me all over New Zealand and because most of the pubs were quite old and had great background histories. Almost without exception they are privately owned pubs and so have not been subject to the ruinous modernisations that corporate pubs endure.

'The Good Old Kiwi Pub' was published by Saint Publishing who also produced several  calendars that I illustrated. It has been out of print for a long time and is an extremely rare collectors' item; it turns up from time to time from ABE Books, Amazon.com, EBay and Trademe.

donovan@ihug.co.nz

25 October 2010

My Books: One Man's Heart Attack


I had a heart attack in 1989 when I was 56. I didn't know how badly I was damaged, what my prospects were, what my lifestyle should be in future. It was such a bewildering experience that I wanted to read something written by a fellow victim that might encourage my recovery.  There was nothing available. The only written works were by heart professionals who knew a lot about hearts from the outside but little about fear from the inside.

So I wrote 'One Man's Heart Attack', a book that could share real experiences with others who might require assurance from somebody who'd been there. It takes about 40 minutes to read; attention spans after coronary events are usually quite short!

Twenty years later aged 76 and having survived rather well, I had to have a quadruple by-pass. The cardiologist who advised this procedure produced a copy of my book from his desk drawer. 'Did you write this?' he asked. I admitted that I had. I thought he might tell me everything that was wrong with it but instead he asked me to sign his copy!

When I read it now I realize how much my writing has improved since 1989 but I was new to authorship then. Despite my wishing I could re-write it it is still relevant to anybody who seeks to share an insider's experiences.

'One Man's Heart Attack' was published by New House Publishing for general sale. A special edition was published for CIBA-Geigy for distribution to doctors in New Zealand. It is out of print but can still be found at ABE Books, Amazon.com, Ebay and TradeMe; or from me - I have a few copies left.

donovan@ihug.co.nz

24 October 2010

My Books: Country Churches of New Zealand


I must confess right at the start that I am not religious. This book is all about small church architecture. But while writing and illustrating it I was impressed by the dedication and faith of the people who almost put church before home and family in their drive to erect houses of worship. Some of these churches date to the very earliest years of settlement of New Zealand by European - mainly British - immigrants.

Published by New Holland, the book has been out of print for a year or two although you might still find a copy in the odd bookshop. Other options are ABE Books, Amazon.com, TradeMe and EBay. Don't ask me for a copy, they've all gone!

donovan@ihug.co.nz

23 October 2010

My Books: Second Bite


This piece of fictional nonsense is full of sex and violence and based on a real murder that was perpetrated upon Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common, South London, England. It should have been published by Hazard Press who published my first novel 'The Wastings' but they broke the contract and I was too sensible to sue them

So I published it myself and the only way you can buy a copy is by contacting me by email. But be quick because there are few left!

donovan@ihug.co.nz

22 October 2010

My Books: Anzac Memories


I compiled this selection of images and quotations from the First World War for New Holland Ltd. in 2005. The selection of quotations, which were applied to some pretty serious images, was designed to be somewhat cynical. I've always been fascinated by the Great War - 'The War to End All Wars' - because it combined utter stupidity with unbelievable courage.

Only twenty years later the 'War to End All Wars' was resumed with Germany its initiator. More stupidity. More courage.

This book, though in short supply,  is still available from some bookstores, and can be found on Amazon.com, ABE Books, TradeMe and E-Bay.

donovan@ihug.co.nz

21 October 2010

My Books: Little Donny's Bedside Book


When I retired from formal business in 1990 I took up writing books and articles. The articles in this collection were written at spot moments over twenty years until 2010. They were published in newspapers, magazines and blogs. They are largely unchanged and so carry references to on-that-particular-day happenings in modern history. But I might have changed a name or two in order to make them more relevant to present reading.

The book is available from Blurb.com. Go to: www.blurb.com, enter 'Don Donovan' in the search box and my book will appear.


donovan@ihug.co.nz

20 October 2010

My Books: Antipasto


I have recently published this book which is a collection of random samplings from various writings, watercolours and photographs made over a few years of visits to Italy - particularly Tuscany. Among many other things, it touches upon Florence, Lucca, Barga and the hill villages of the Garfagnana, that area between the Apuane Alps and the Apennines that is drained by the Serchio River.

It also includes visits to Umbria: Carsulae, Terni and San Gemini.

The book is available from Blurb.com. Go to: www.blurb.com, enter 'Don Donovan' in the search box and my book will appear.


donovan@ihug.co.nz

17 October 2010

New Zealand's Westland: Hokitika Beach

Tracking west from Hokitika Beach you'll not see land until you reach South America. The sea rolls in, unimpeded for thousands of kilometres, leaving the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand one of the harshest in the world with few safe harbours most of which have tide-thrown bars at their entrances.

And yet in the mid-nineteenth century when this narrow strip of land between the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea was explored and raped minutely by gold miners from all over the world, its harbours - especially Hokitika's - were crammed with ships, tall ships, sailing ships whose skippers, picking their moments, took on the bars in the hope of coming to safe haven. Many didn't make it, consigning their passengers, crews and cargoes to the sea. 

Nobody really knows how many wrecks lie off these shores although timbers still wash ashore to join the litter of tree branches and stumps that are shot out to sea from Westland's rivers only to be cast up again by the westerly tides.

This is Hokitika Beach on a fine evening...


© DON DONOVAN

donovan@ihug.co.nz 

14 October 2010

11 October 2010

Central Otago: Lake Hawea - the Promise


This is a view from Lake Hawea, east of the main divide. It promises savage weather through the pass and to the west. On this day it was harsh but grand, the layers of mist and rain dramatically delineating distance from one mountain range to another. And yet, when we reached our goal at Haast Township the sun came out! It's almost impossible to predict what you might find at the end of this winding, wild precipitous road; but it is as much fun to travel hopefully as it is to arrive.


© DON DONOVAN

donovan@ihug.co.nz

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Blurb

RANDOM SAMPLINGS F...
By Don Donovan

About Me

My photo

Don Donovan: Biography

I was born on 20 January 1933, nine days before Hitler came to power in Germany, I grew up in south London. Although evacuated during the phoney war and the quieter times I lived in and out of air raid shelters during the blitz and experienced both V1 and V2 attacks on London. Left grammar school in 1948 aged 15 substantially undereducated. I wanted to go to art school but because of family ‘poverty’ joined a commercial art studio in the West End. I was, thereafter, variously a messenger boy, commercial artist and typographer. I was in the Royal Air Force from 1951 to 1953 when the only useful thing I did was to take part in King George VI’s funeral parade.

In 1955 I married Patricia O’Donnell, a RADA graduate, at that time playing opposite Derek Nimmo, they were juvenile leads in a touring repertory company. He went on to great success because he had a funny voice.

We came to New Zealand in 1960 where I worked in advertising. At length I became managing director of one of the companies of whose holding company (the largest domestic advertising complex in New Zealand) I was also a proprietor and shareholder. I left the industry in 1990 when my company was bought out by American interests. My timing was brilliant, at that point my first book had been published and the next was on its way.

We have two daughters and four grand-children.

Now, apart from writing, I function as a self-educated grumpy old man.

Books & Writings

‘New Zealand Odyssey’, with Euan Sarginson, Heinemann-Reed, 1989.

‘One Man’s Heart Attack’, New House, 1990. (A special edition of this book was purchased by CIBA-Geigy for distribution to NZ doctors).

‘Open 7 Days’, Random Century, October 1991.

‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’ by Saint Publishing in 1995 followed by:
‘New Zealand House & Cottage’ in 1997. (Saint Publishing have also published calendars for the years 1994 to 2004 using my watercolour illustrations).

‘The Wastings’, my first novel was published in July 1999 by Hazard Press. Although an international subject it had very limited distribution, only in New Zealand, and the rights have reverted to me. (Colin Dexter read 'The Wastings' and wrote to me: 'I enjoyed and admired "The Wastings"... a beautifully written work... a splendid debut in crime fiction... More please!'.)

Also the texts of photographic books:
‘Auckland’
‘Colourful New Zealand’
‘New Zealand in Colour’
‘Top of the South’
‘Aoraki-Mt.Cook’
‘Above Auckland’
‘Hauraki Gulf Destinations’
‘Otago’
‘Bay of Plenty’
and a compilation of photographs and quotations titled ‘Anzac Memories’ 2004 all published by New Holland.

My written and illustrated book, ‘Country Churches of New Zealand’ was published in October 2002 by New Holland, who also published ‘Rural New Zealand’ 2004 (photographs and text), and a series of four humorous books of photographs and quotations in 2004 and 2005 titled ‘Woolly Wisdom’, ‘Chewing the Cud’, ‘Fowl Play’, and ‘Pig Tales’. My most recent book was published in August 2006 by New Holland, titled ‘Political Animals’.

Over the years I have written for NZ Herald, Heritage Magazine, Next Magazine and various local and overseas travel and general interest media.

[ENDS]