You can buy a selection of my recent titles in hard copy from Fishpond, a New Zealand online mail-order bookstore. Click on the icon of the book to go to the website.
‘A spectacular book…well worth reading’ – Don Rood, Radio New Zealand, 2 August 2011.
‘As is often the case with Matthew Wright’s work, a very readable analysis …’ – Kathryn Ryan, Radio New Zealand, 2 August 2011
‘…a gallop through the tribal skirmishes of the early 19th century…a welcome look at a little understood – and these days little known – era of New Zealand history’ – Mike Houlahan, D Scene, 31 August 2011
‘A valuable contribution to the growing wealth of well-written material on the subject’ – Tom O’Connor, Waikato Times, 19 September 2011
In the two decades before the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand was ripped asunder by island-spanning waves of cannibalism, warfare and extreme violence. Great war parties surged the length of the land to avenge historic grievances, killing and burning as they went. Whole peoples were uprooted and found new homes.
Despite the name given them by history, the one thing we can be certain about this tumult is that these dramatic conflicts were not ‘musket’ wars. This was an age of courage, of heroism, of great character and of astonishing deeds. And they are not dead history. Twenty-first century New Zealand has been profoundly shaped by them, not least in the location of most of the major cities.
In this book, noted historian Matthew Wright disputes the mythologies and looks at some of the whys and wherefores of this generation-long cauldron of cultures in collision.
Here’s a radio interview I did on the book:
The Gallipoli campaign of 1915 destroyed New Zealand’s fantasies of war as a glorious schoolboy adventure on behalf of a beloved Empire. The Western Front campaign that followed in 1916-18 gave shape to the emotional impact. It was a horror world of death and mud that destroyed the souls of the young men who fought in it. Together, these two campaigns shaped the lives of a generation of New Zealanders and have given a particular meaning to the modern memory of war.
New Zealanders have always been a people on the move. Ever since the earliest colonial age, Kiwis have got about the country in vehicles of all kinds – from horse-drawn wagons to smoke-belching locomotives, classic aircraft – and a fabulous procession of much-loved motorcars.
Big Ideas: 100 Wonders of New Zealand Engineering offers an exciting glimpse of New Zealand’s engineering history. Through a hundred projects covering more than 150 years, Matthew Wright recounts some of the triumphs, innovations and hard work that have given New Zealand some of its greatest bridges, buildings and inventions. This book was one of the top ten best selling non-fiction books in New Zealand during August and September 2009.
“A thoroughly worthwhile World War Two book…it’s a real treat to read personal accounts by…men who were there…Wonderful stuff.” – Graeme Barrow, Northern Advocate, 29 September 2007.
“Much of Torpedo’s material comes from the Royal New Zealand Navy Museum Oral Archive, and the museum, along with historian Matthew Wright, should be commended for bringing it out on deck.” – Lindsay Wright, Taranaki Daily News, 6 October 2007.
Between 1939 and 1945, New Zealanders fought on, below or above every ocean of the world, from South American waters to the Pacific, from Cook Strait to the Arctic and most seas between. Editor Matthew Wright has collected some of their most exciting, harrowing, emotive and adventurous tales. These are human stories from the age that forged New Zealand, an era when civilisation seemed on the brink of catastrophe – and when New Zealanders were fighting to save the world they knew.
Between 1941 and 1945 a fair number of young Kiwi combatants found themselves loose behind enemy lines in occupied southern Europe – mostly Greece, Yugoslavia and Italy. Most were escaped prisoners of war, trying to reach friendly territory. A few brave souls such as John Mulgan and Dudley Perkins took even riskier routes, actually landing in occupied territory to bolster the resistance and carry the fight to the enemy.