The First by Terry Moyle
The First is far more than the cover notes suggest – a potted history of the Walsh brothers and the aeroplane days of early New Zealand. Be assured that even those who have little to no interest in aviation will find a great deal to interest them in this book.
The jaunty cover is a good giveaway. It really appealed to me and it also drew in my friend who, having spent his entire career working in the industry, is very interested in naturally very interested in anything to do with flight. While he focused on that and wanted to take the book away to devour it in detail, I was fascinated by the glimpse this book offers into early life in a fledgling colony.
Along the way, you learn a lot about early commercial ventures like tobacco growing, the Victorian obsession with cycling, motorcars and early postal deliveries to the Hokianga by float plane. You’ll also meet our early aviatrix and learn a little more about Aunt Daisy. It’s absolutely fascinating stuff.
As an aside I was also grateful for a glimpse into the lengths Terry Moyle went to identify historical photos with the help of a facial recognition expert – a process he describes as both spooky and rewarding.
This is the third of Moyle’s charming books to be published by New Holland. He is the author of Art Deco Airports and Art Deco New Zealand, and this book will sit very nicely on the shelf beside them. And as with those two fine titles the illustrations by Rosie Louise absolutely complete the book.
In conclusion, this book is charming, a satisfying read and a delightful glimpse into little known aspects of our national identity.
Reviewer: Peta Stavelli
New Holland, $44.99