A collection of reflections along eight themes is probably the best way to describe Seeking the Centre, Living Well in Aotearoa, a self-published book by retired Anglican bishop John Bluck, of Pakiri.
For Kiwis of a certain vintage, many of the stories will feel like a walk down memory lane as he recalls door-to-door encyclopedia salesmen, Bycrofts biscuits in big tins with a boy on the front and the excitement of going to “the pictures”.
Radio New Zealand listeners will recognise many of the tales, which have been broadcast in an audio series that has been running for nearly a decade. As Bluck says in his preface,
“They’re all about seeking out the essence of what it means to be a New Zealander.”
Bluck’s own childhood, spent in the northern Hawke’s Bay in the 1950s, is covered in the first chapter, Nuhaka Dreaming. He paints a picture of a post-war family, neither rich nor poor, where children enjoyed a level of freedom and security that would be hard to replicate in today’s mass media world. The other chapters cover subjects such as the adjustments involved in moving to a rural lifestyle, the discovery of a love of gardening and the peculiar habits of beachgoers. The chapter on roads will strike a chord with Rodney readers and reinforces the fact that the politics of roading is nothing new, while the chapter entitled Who Wants to be a Pakeha? takes a look at the current state of race relations in New Zealand.
A great little book to dip into, to meditate on and to share.
Seeking the Centre is available from the Matakana Village Bookshop for $35.