Battlefields of the New Zealand Wars: A Visitor's Guide
by David Green
Penguin, $40

I've long found it fascinating to explore the sites of the battles which are a part of our national story, places like Ruapekapeka, Gate Pa, Orakau Pa and Rangiriri, but until fairly recently it was hard to build an accurate picture of what actually happened.

Happily, most of the sites are now better sign-posted, walking tracks and viewing points are being developed, and this book provides an excellent guide to the events on the ground 140-150 years ago.

It is a bit of a disappointment that it doesn't include maps directly relating the sites as they are today to the key moments in the battles.

But, that weakness apart, the book provides an excellent reason to visit - or re-visit - the old battlefields and get a better understanding of how and why our history developed as it did.

I'll be heading to Rangiriri in the near future to enjoy the many extra details I wouldn't have known about without David Green's knowledgeable assistance.