Dear Oliver – Peter Wells

New release from Peter Wells, Randell Cottage writer-in-residence 2002

New release from Peter Wells, Randell Cottage writer-in-residence 2002

Peter Wells
Photo by Liz Marsh

Peter Wells, who in 2002 was the Randell Cottage’s first writer in residence, has just released his latest work: Dear Oliver, a family history, prompted by his discovery of a trove of family letters amongst his elderly mother’s effects.The find provided an entrée into writing a story that is uniquely his family’s but also very typical of other families whose ancestors emigrated from Britain during the nineteeenth century.

“The journey of my ancestors from Britain to New Zealand could be said to be the ur-journey of so many Pākehā New Zealanders. We are overfamiliar with its shape – poverty in the homeland, struggle across the seas, the hard impact on landing. Scrabbling around for a way to survive.

Gradually, some success as adaptation takes over, accompanied by a loss of memory about origins as the present obscures a now-distant past. Even the act of looking back – the search for genealogical origins – is a Pākehā cliché. Why do it?”

Dear Oliver cover

Massey University Press $39.99

 

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