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Centre for the Book | He Rau Kupu
Events and Opportunities related to Books at the University of Otago

2023 World Book Day Lecture–Thursday 2 March, 5:30 pm

Metal table-stand microphonePlease join us as the Centre for the Book hosts our annual World Book Day lecture on 2 March 2023. The talk will take place from 5.30-6.30 p.m. in Castle 1 Lecture Theatre, University of Otago. This year, we are delighted to welcome Megan Hutching to speak on “Talking Books: Writing Oral History.”

Megan Hutching is an oral historian and author of many books including Over the Wide and Trackless SeaLeading the Way, a history of the New Zealand women’s suffrage campaign and, most recently, Threads of Caring, a commissioned history of Auckland’s Anglican Trust for Women and Children. She is currently researching Auckland restaurants and eating places in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her other research interests include women’s history and political activism.

The talk will be followed immediately afterward by dinner at Ombrello’s. A set menu of 2 courses is available at $50 per head (not including beverages), payable on the night. Please RSVP for numbers to

We do hope you can join us.

Rare Book Summer School Public Lecture

Alexander Turnbull’s earliest bookplate, designed by Walter Crane, 1891.
(Alexander Turnbull Library, Ref. BOOKPLATES-Graham-NZ-Turnbull-1891-01)

The Centre for the Book is delighted to launch our 2023 events with a public lecture by Anthony Tedeschi, FSA, Curator Rare Books and Fine Printing at Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Wellington.  Anthony will be speaking on “Alexander Turnbull and the Book-Collecting Game.”

The talk will take place at 5:30 Wednesday 25 January in Burns 2, Ground Floor of the Arts Building.  All are welcome.  If you are not able to join us in person, it is also possible to join a livestream of the event, though there will not be a recording of the talk.  Go to
(meeting ID: 930 1369 2754, Password: 987561. If you wish to attend from beyond Australasia, please contact to request access).

We look forward to seeing everyone as we kick off the year in style.  And mark your calendars for the World Book Day Lecture at 5:30 on Thursday 2 March; more details to follow at the end of the month.

A Short Reflection on the 2022 Symposium

For those of us who were able to attend yesterday evening and today, and for any who had other commitments that precluded attendance, I have attached a brief summary of the Symposium.

A huge thanks to all those who made the event a reality.  It was a a whirlwind across the vastness of the Pacific, one that opened up the many possibilities and needs for research.  I look forward to many future developments in these areas.

2022 Symposium: Join Us this Evening and All Day Tomorrow

Here’s the roster of events for the Centre for the Book Symposium, Books and the Pacific17–18 November: 2022 Symposium Programme.

We will be hosting this year’s Symposium for the Friday meeting via Zoom Events.  Logging in requires no special software from you beyond your usual Zoom connection.  A separate Zoom link for Thursday evening’s public lecture at the Dunedin Public Library is listed in the programme. To Register for the main event on Friday please visit the Events page.  If you do not use Zoom, email us and we’ll add you.  We’d be very grateful if you could do so by 8 November so that we have time to prepare name badges and can let catering know of all dietary requirements for the morning and afternoon teas.  There are no fees to register, but if you are not registered, you will not be able to join the meeting online and might miss out on bikkies and drinks if you come in person.


Update on “Books and the Pacific” Symposium

Thanks to everyone for your patience.  We.have been trialling a new software package, Zoom Events, that will facilitate participation by distance, but also enable recordings that will remain available to those registered until the end of the year.

The downside of Zoom Events is that the University is still refining its systems and so we have some limitations on what we can control.  A number of you will have received various emails; please mostly disregard them.  They are automatically generated, but we cannot go into the module that would permit us to turn them off.

The positive news is that we currently have more off-campus registrations than we’ve ever had, and we should have a lively audience both in-person and online.  The Events site also makes it easy to post the abstracts for each presentation, arranged by sessions, and you can see those online once you have registered.  Even if you are not going to attend through Zoom (and we much prefer to see people in person where possible), we still need you to register through Zoom Events ASAP, in order to finalise catering by this Wednesday, 9 Nov.  So please click here and complete the simple questions or we won’t have a name badge for you or enough cups of tea.

If you have any trouble with the link, or just do not use Zoom at all, you are welcome to email me stating your name, whether you will be attend in person and, if you will be present in person, indicating any dietary requirements.

We think the Symposium is coming together well and look forward to seeing many familiar faces and meeting lots of new people.

Two Events next Wednesday, 9 Nov., at Dunedin Public Libraries

First up is Reading Allowed at 5.30 pm by the Cube. This time you’ll hear extracts from two seaworthy books: Lorraine Johnston will be reading from The Old Man and the Sea, and Paul Tankard will be reading The Wizard of Earthsea.

No need to book. Tea and coffee available.

And for those who love a good old school story, Continued Sense of Wonder at 7pm on Floor 4 of the City Library is discussing books written for young people (but enjoyed by people of all ages) where school is part of the plot.

From Billy Bunter to The Compleet Molesworth, Hogwarts to St Clare’s. From sweet first days to boarding school nightmares.

Share a favourite or a new discovery, for this adult conversation about children’s books.

Please book for this event if you are planning to attend (this is a reminder if you Have already booked);instance=20221109190000?popup=1 Tea, coffee and choc biscuits available.

Another Significant Loss to Book History in NZ

Dr. Brian Opie and Jim Traue, former Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library at the 28 June 2018 Friends of the Turnbull Library Founder Lecture given by Dr. Lydia Wevers.
(Photo by Mark Beatty. From

I am sad to report that Dr. Brian Opie of VUW passed away this week.  Brian was a pioneer in pushing for the study of NZ print culture, coordinating the first Marsden grant to support the field back in the late 1990s.  Brian’s own major contribution to the field focused on William Golder (1810–1876), who published The New Zealand Minstrelsy by subscription in 1852.  That volume was the first book of poetry printed and published in New Zealand.  Brian also served for many years as editor of the Turnbull Library Record and was very active in the leadership of the Friends of the Turnbull Library.

In 2005 he established Te Whãinga Aronui The Council for the Humanities to advocate for better government support for humanities research.  In the end, the Royal Society of NZ extended its membership to humanities scholars, though the fit has not necessarily been ideal, as Brian explained in a 2019 interview that appeared in Educational Philosophy and Theory, 51:13, 1283–92:

[I]t was readily agreed between HUMANZ and those managing RSNZ that there needed to be two organisations because the knowledge systems they represented were complementary, not simply elidable. However, once the elision was undertaken, it was not long before the glaring anomaly, the separate humanities panel [for research assessment], was dissolved in favour of a panel combining social sciences and humanities.  Getting the ‘creative’ into that structure has been problematic for a long time, and it’s been accomplished in part by the way the sciences have laid claim to the term themselves, consistent with the reigning value of innovation…. The day when poetry and novels can be advanced as evidence in an evidence-based policy discussion (now a vacated nineteenth-century conception) will be the day when the humanities and arts reassert their foundational significance for the knowledgable evolution of human(e) societies.

Book History and Humanities will mourn the loss of Brian’s committed advocacy, always conveyed in a soft voice from a warm-hearted scholar. Messages for the family can be sent C/- Lychgate Funerals, 306 Willis St, Aro Valley, Wellington.

Deferred World Book Day Lecture–Prof. Harry Ricketts on “The Book and Self”

The Centre for the Book is delighted to be able to hold the 2022 World Book Day, belatedly, on Wednesday, 26 October at 5:30 pm in Biochemistry G13.  (Yes, we know it’s an unfamiliar room, but we’ve been told it’s nice and we have little choice because the Exam Office has booked just about every other space).

Our speaker is Prof. Harry Ricketts, talking on the topic of “The Book and Self.”  Prof. Ricketts is Emeritus Prof. of English and teaches in the Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. He is a poet, essayist, literary biographer and editor, who has published around thirty books. He has recently completed a memoir and is currently writing an essay on Kipling and childhood trauma.  Formerly an influential editor at New Zealand Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa, Prof. Ricketts has thought a lot about the importance of books for ourselves, for Aotearoa, and for the world.  We hope you can join us for his talk as we celebrate the power of books.

Two Upcoming Dunedin Public Library Events

What lurks in the DPL stacks?  You have a chance to find out this Saturday at 1 pm.  Book your Stack Trek now online:, or ring or email the Library on 474 3690 or

And next Wednesday, 12 Oct, Paul Tankard and Lorraine Johnston offer another instalment of Reading Allowed, this week featuring Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas and James Joyce’s Ulysses at 5:30 on the ground floor of the main Library.

Enjoy great books, excellent company, and perhaps even learn something, or at least have a great time.

Some New Botanical and Scientific History Treats Online

Poppy (Papever Somniferum) from Arthur Pearson Luff, Text-book of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology, Volume 1, 1895

I thought some of those who attended last year’s CfB Symposium might be interested in a new online exhibition.  They’ve used a software package called Juncture that lets the text scroll alongside facing images of the subjects.  I had to use the down arrow keys for the first 1–2 items before I could see the scroll bar in the middle, but the result is very attractive and engaging.  The exhibition focuses on botanical publications in the London Middle Temple Library. :   This exhibition was co-curated by Will Beharrell at the Linnean Society. It also features two videos: transcriptions of two manuscript pieces.

In addition, University College London just published an open access essay collection on publication of science by the Royal Society since its founding:
A History of Scientific Journals: Publishing at the Royal Society, 1665-2015 by Aileen Fyfe, Noah Moxham, Julie McDougall-Waters, and Camilla Mørk Røstvik. Download it free:

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