AUT History professor Paul Moon is by general university standards, a freak. I say that as he’s extraordinarily industrious, not a characteristic common among academics.

With 36 books on aspects of New Zealand history already under his belt he is unquestionably our foremost historian, once a mantle held by the late Michael King. He shares a highly desirable characteristic with Michael in that King wrote our history in a highly readable fashion for the general public to savour.

His latest book is typically highly readable and should be in every home and not just Auckland. It’s a splendid account of the city’s 20th century history. I specially like Paul’s approach as rather than chapters about different aspects of the city’s evolvement, instead he deals with it in decades.

I first went to Auckland in the latter 1950s. Even then one could sense an energy and vigour peculiar to it when compared with elsewhere in New Zealand. Pre-covid it was for a period, the fastest growing city in Australasia.

I bought my first office building there as a young fellow in 1963 and I imagine today my company is one of the city’s largest ratepayers. But it wasn’t just commercial activity which has seen me a regular visitor but so many other diverse activities in which Auckland was always the Mecca in the New Zealand context.

So get hold of Paul’s book. You will thank me for the pleasure it will bring you.


I am reading A Savage Country by Mr Moon at the moment after competing your Memories of Muldoon recently. Both highly entertaining. Thanks for the recommendation, Sir Robert.

The one area in which Auckland lags is theatre. Wellington much better (we’ll, it was when I lived there last century). Auckland Theatre Company not up to much, sadly. Silo good but in a city of Auckland’s size you’d expect much better.

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