A New Zealand Book of Beasts is a groundbreaking examination of the interactions between humans and 'nonhuman animals' – both real and imagined – in New Zealand's arts and literature, popular culture, historiography, media and everyday life. Structured in four parts – Animal Icons, Animal Companions, Art Animals and Controversial Animals – A New Zealand Book of Beasts touches on topics as diverse as moa-hunting and the SPCA, pest-control and pet-keeping, whaling and whale-watching; on species ranging from sheep to sperm whales and from pekepeka to possums; and on the works of authors and artists as various as Samuel Butler and Witi Ihimaera, Lady Mary Anne Barker and Janet Frame, Michael Parekowhai and Don Binney, Bill Hammond and Fiona Pardington.
In examining through literature, art and culture the ways New Zealanders use and abuse, shape and are shaped by, glorify and co-opt, and describe and imagine animals, the authors tell us a great deal about our society and culture: how we understand our own identities and those of others; how we regard, inhabit and make use of the natural world; and how we think about what to buy, eat, wear, watch and read. This is an engaging, original and scholarly rigorous book of cultural criticism and a thoughtful addition to New Zealand literature.
Dr. Annie Potts and Dr. Philip Armstrong are associate professors in the School of Humanities at the University of Canterbury and co-directors of the New Zealand Centre for Human-Animal Studies. Annie Potts' most recent books are Chicken (Reaktion, 2012), a natural and cultural history of Gallus gallus domesticus and Animals in Emergencies; Philip Armstrong's is What Animals Mean in the Fiction of Modernity (Routledge, 2008), a consideration of animals in the novel in English from the eighteenth century onwards.
Dr. Deidre Brown (Ngapuhi, Ngati Kahu) is a senior lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland: her most recent book is Maori Architecture (Penguin, 2009).