Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage's online historical treasures feature in a newly released book, Today in New Zealand History, which presents a day-by-day calendar of events from New Zealand's past.
"The content, largely adapted from the Ministry's popular NZHistory website, presents snapshots of our country's rich history and brings to life the people and events that have shaped it," says Chief Historian Neill Atkinson. "NZHistory is a rich resource, and our hardest challenge in putting the book together was what to leave out," says Neill, who collaborated with David Green, Gareth Phipps and Steve Watters on the content.
"The daily entries canvas a range of topics. For example, this month October showcases Dave Dobbyn's song Slice of Heaven which topped the charts on 2 October 1986, the grounding of the container ship Rena on Astrolabe Reef on 5 October 2011, the end of the six o'clock swill on 9 October 1967, and the arrival into Wellington on 13 October 1975 of Whina Cooper and 5000 marchers protesting against the ongoing alienation of Maori land.
"Beginning on 1 January, when in 1859 the Pencarrow Head lighthouse in Wellington Harbour was lit for the first time, every day of the year has at least one entry. Some dates feature two.
"The country's achievements in sports and the influence of arts and culture on our daily lives are also profiled, from Jack Lovelock winning the country's first Olympic athletics gold at Berlin on 6 August 1936, to Peter Jackson's The Return of the King winning 11 Oscars at the 76th Academy Awards in Los Angeles on 29 February 2004.
"We've had our share of disasters too. In just one month February, the Hawke's Bay earthquake struck, the SS Penguin was wrecked in Cook Strait and the Mikhail Lermontov went down in the Marlborough Sounds.
"And naturally there are many firsts. 1 June 1960 saw the country's first official television broadcast, New Zealand's first wind farm became operational on 6 June 1996, and on 20 June 1987 the All Blacks took out the first Rugby World Cup.
"Presenting content ranging from the quirky and bizarre to the events that have shaped New Zealand's political and constitutional development, Today in New Zealand History should have wide appeal.
"And people who want to find out more can go to our websites, NZHistory and Te Ara, to explore more comprehensive content," Neill said.
Taking a year to put together, the lavishly illustrated full-colour book was developed in partnership with the Alexander Turnbull Library and is published by Exisle Publishing.
Today in New Zealand History retails at $44.99 from all main bookstores and the publisher's website www.exislepublishing.co.nz