Reviews

In this section you will find reviews of some of Bee’s books.

Puketiti Station, cover

Puketiti Station

The story of an East Cape sheep station and the 180-year-old Williams legacy

Random House NZ, 2013

  • ‘The story of Puketiti Station, the historic Waipiro hill country farm inland and Te Puia Springs and Waipiro Bay on the North Island’s East Coast, reads like a ripping historical novel – except that it’s all true…

    Buy this book for its fascinating insight into farming life from colonial times to the future. Author Bee Dawson… is a wonderful writer who brings history to life, and her text is matched with captivating photos, new and old.’

    New Zealand Gardener, February 2014.

  • ‘… in the same spirit but further north, Bee Dawson and photographer Becky Nunes take readers to the East Cape in Puketiti Station: The story of an East Cape sheep station and the 180-year-old Williams legacy (Random House, $49.99). As a seasoned social historian, Dawson plunges into the station’s long and colourful human history with knowledge and a certain swagger. She’s helped by a story populated by a strong cast of characters. From clergyman William Williams’s first contacts with the region in 1833 to the challenges facing present owners Dan and Anna Russell, the book – with Nunes’s evocative photographs – is a satisfyingly rich distillation of Puketiti’s Maori and Pakeha past, present and future.’

    New Zealand Listener, December 7-13 2013.

  • ‘I have really enjoyed the new release Puketiti Station by Bee Dawson for a number of reasons. Not only was I delighted at the format, described as a paperback but in fact a really nice flexi-cover with dust-jacket, it made me recall the beautiful area in which Puketiti is situated.

    As a teenager and relatively fresh from an upbringing in the Orient, I was invited to give a hand at shearing time, on what must have been the neighbouring Takapau Station, where my older sister’s boyfriend worked. Full of excitement and anticipation, I was soon to learn the true meaning of hard work! After a 10 minute instruction on how to pick up, throw and check a fleece, I became an expert “rousie” who took a very personal pride in my work, particularly when told by the gang boss that the Maori shearing boys thought “that skinny Pakeha girl can sure work!”

    I do remember through the haze of perpetual exhaustion, the lovely and then, remote spot in Te Puia Springs where we stayed and where I experienced the wonderful hospitality and warmth of the local people. Little things like fresh maori bread, bareback horse-riding on the beach at Waipiro Bay, watching the local boys bring in kina and going up to the marae for my very first hangi!

    A book has surely done its job when you enjoy it and it also makes you smile!’

    Liz & the Team at Touchwood

Puketiti Station – book description

Wigram cover

Wigram

The Birthplace of Military Aviation in New Zealand

Random House, 2012

  • ‘Bee Dawson has contributed to our Air Force’s anniversary year with the timely publication of Wigram. Like her earlier Hobsonville: portrait of a seaplane station, the new book is a social history of the Base drawing on the memories and anecdotes from those who lived and trained at Wigram.

    The first chapters describe the history of Wigram up until WWII, and thus encompass the early days of flying and the initial development of New Zealand’s Air Force. Two generous chapters cover Wigram at war, then the author takes us through the post-war years until the base’s closure in 1995) (the book is about the base and its people, so she does not venture into the politics of defence in the 1990s).

    Bee Dawson brings to life the base through the tales of early aviators, officers and airmen and women, and the families who lived their lives on the base. Wigram is filled with illustrations and photographs – many previously unpublished – of aircraft and people that add depth to the stories.

    Wigram is a substantial book that will be an invaluable resource for all interested in the history of our Air Force.’

    Air Force News, December 2012.

Wigram – book description

Mighty-Moves

Mighty Moves

Heavy Haulage and House Moving in New Zealand

Random House, 2012

  • ‘Ingenuity and gutsy determination were often needed to transport bulky products from engineering workshops to customers throughout New Zealand.

    This was partly due to restrictive government regulations as well as the appalling state of most roads.

    Graphic insights into the historic challenges faced by the country’s heavy hauliers are given in a fascinating and superbly illustrated book by social historian Bee Dawson.

    She traces the industry’s development from the pioneering days in the first half of the 19th century – when packhorses offered the only practical method of carrying supplies over rough and narrow tracks through bush – to the advances of today.’

    New Zealand Engineering News, September 2012.

Mighty Moves – book description

The New Zealand Woman

The New Zealand Woman

80 glorious years of fashion, food and friendship from the pages of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly

Woman’s Weekly, Whitcoulls 2012

  • ‘In conjunction with New Zealand Woman’s Weekly’s recent 80th birthday, social historian Bee Dawson has compiled this stunning commemorative book, celebrating “80 glorious years of fashion, food and friendship” from the pages of the magazine. The New Zealand Woman is chock-full of stories from our archives, each shedding new light on the good old days – and some of the bad – of life as a Kiwi woman.

    With 11 themed chapters – covering subjects as diverse as housework, agony aunts, fabulous fashion, royalty and the eternal quest for the perfect body – the book unveils some real Weekly gems. Who knew, for example, in lieu of a fridge, the best way for a New Zealand housewife to keep meat fresh in 1932 was to “hang joints from the ceiling or shelf… covered with a piece of muslin”. Or, that in the absence of strawberries, a combination of tomatoes, sugar and strawberry essence can make the perfect mock strawberry jam – a recession- and Depression-proof spread.

    The New Zealand Woman matches the journey of Kiwi women with that of the Weekly – just as New Zealand women’s lives have changed dramatically during the past 80 years, so has this magazine. However, the book also features recipes for numerous old-fashioned favourites, such as cinnamon sponge square, chocolate bread pudding and even home brew, which wouldn’t look out of place in Kiwi kitchens today.

    While it might seem predictable that we’re singing the praises of a book that pays homage to our very own magazine, the real stars of this book are New Zealand women – our readers and the women who feature in the magazine every week. It is a testament to their strength.’

    Claire Rorke in New Zealand Woman’s Weekly

The New Zealand Woman – book description