I was riveted by this Ockham-nominated history of the counterculture in Aotearoa NZ. It’s a chunky, sweeping account on an era of social and cultural history when the young Boomer generation started unbuttoning the starchy shirt of NZ rugby-and-church conformity to make room for sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
Nick Bollinger is a great writer, mustering a huge amount of research, interviews, first-hand recollections and reflective analysis into a very layered story without every losing hold of the narrative. I knew some of the major beats, but there were revelations for me on almost every page. There’s a Goldilocks effect here from the size of this country, large enough to chart its own complex journey through the broadening of culture underway around the world, but also small enough that its path can be mapped in a book like this. The same names recur across multiple chapters, and different kinds of influence can be readily tracked.
It’s also assembled in a crafty way. A notable example is that only as the book goes on does it expand its focus to the collective experiences of women, Māori, and Pasifika, who were all in different ways alienated from the main course of the counterculture’s flow, and ultimately implicating this failure of diversity in the counterculture’s demise and its mixed legacy.
It’s a great read. Don’t miss the discography/playlist tucked away at the end.