• Renee Rowland

3/19: We Four, and The Stories We Told by Henry Lapham (1880)

Four men sit in a shanty bar, telling stories into the night, buying rounds of nips to help them tell their yarns. There are four stories, recalling 'ghost stories' - moments in the Southland goldrush, rescuing babies, untimely deaths, heroic acts.

Published by the ODT, these stories are a snapshot in a moment in time. Less colonial and in fact all nostalgia for England gone, but the need to spin yarns and share stories over candlelight ever strong.

This was an easy read. Light, quick and easily evocative of the 1870s gold rush. What does it say about New Zealand? The country still feels raw and savage, wild in parts. Maori are not mentioned, the future isn't looked into, the past not mulled on. There is a strong sense of location and being present. Being kiwi? yes, a whisper, but are these quintessentially kiwi stories?

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