Academics are sometimes justifiably accused of indolence, not a charge which could ever be laid at Auckland history Professor, Paul Moon’s door. Paul must be the most prolific book-writing academic, not merely in New Zealand but anywhere in the world and possibly, in all of human history.
Year after year he pumps out highly readable books on aspects of our history. The latest, “Touring Edwardian New Zealand” is a sheer delight. It recounts the early days, just over a century ago, of the spawning of our tourism industry.
Those pioneer visitors, mainly middle-class Britons, came on tours organised by Thomas Cook.
Travelling such a distance back in those pre-flight days meant they came for several months and toured the entire country to justify the travel burden in getting here.
The substantial guide published by Thomas Cook for its clients, as Moon writes, provides an extremely rare insight into the nature of New Zealand at that time. A less appealing feature of this guide book for me is the reminder of how bloody old I am for so many of the city photographs and especially Wellington, show buildings I recall from my youth, albeit they’re now pulled down.
I strongly recommend “Touring Edwardian New Zealand” as a nostalgic and pleasurable insight to a less troubled age.