Book review: Made in NZ
Made in NZ is touted as a "beautiful coffee table book" featuring famous New Zealanders' insights into what being a Kiwi means.
The usual suspects, such as Sir Peter Leitch, Oscar Kightley and Dame Malvina Major, explain how New Zealand made them who they are.
Each person gets a few pages, accompanied by stunning portraits by photographer Ross Land, in which they explain their backgrounds and how they came to get to where they are.
At first glance, it seems like another attempt to quell our never-ending inferiority complex.
It's seen everywhere – in television commercials, newspapers and marketing campaigns. New Zealanders are constantly told they are special.
It is a symptom of an underlying national insecurity and a need to be loved. We are told we are not as good as the rest of the world, so we need to build ourselves up to make us feel better.
So a book featuring inspiring Kiwis talking about New Zealand and how it has influenced them or their career would seem, on the surface, to be pandering to this sense of inferiority.
But it doesn't do that at all.
It is full of thoroughly interesting and engaging stories from some of the accomplished people this country has produced.
It includes academics such as Dr Karen Wilcox, the Auckland-born engineer who is now a professor of Aeronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
And musicians such as Jon Toogood, the lead singer of Shihad who has enjoyed longevity in New Zealand's music scene far beyond what most achieve.
But it also features some of New Zealand's accomplished businesspeople.
For example, David Kirk, the All Black captain who quit rugby at age 26 and went on to become chief executive of Fairfax.
Or Sir Ralph Norris, who didn't even achieve University Entrance but became chairman of one of Australia's largest banks, CBA.
Others include Stephen Jennings, Sir Eion Edgar, Victoria Ransom and Chris Liddell.
Their stories are mostly inspiring, even if some of them are already very well known, such as that of Sir Peter Leitch.
It is fascinating to read first hand how these people got to where they are today, often from very humble beginnings.
They are hard-working, passionate achievers who many will want to hear from.
The spread of personalities featured in the book is wide, representing a range of industries, from the arts, sports, education and politics.
It is not all bright and fluffy, though. Footballer Wynton Rufer gives readers a good bash over the head with his moral compass by saying things such as: "We have been poisoned by the Western ways of materialism and it is such a shame because in New Zealand we live in a physical paradise.
"Most New Zealanders don't know how lucky we have got it and most of us are striving for material things, ruining the world, stuffing things up, and that is such a shame."
The common thread, however, is they have all been extremely successful in their respective fields.
Far from pandering to an inferiority complex, Made in NZ tastefully showcases some of this country's highest achievers, and offers an insight into what they did to get where they are.
It would, as advertised, make an ideal coffee table book – an interesting read featuring fascinating people and excellent photographs.
Made in NZ, by Chris Mirams and Ross Land, is available now, published by Hodder Moa in Hard Back, RRP $79.99. There is no Kindle edition.