Culture in a Small Country: The Arts in New Zealand by Roger Horrocks


ISBN: 978-1-99-115912-0
Softcover / 512pp

Culture in a Small Country provides a remarkably wide-ranging but indepth account of the arts in New Zealand. Combining new perspectives on the past with a unique view of the situation today during the pandemic, this is essential reading for everyone with an interest in the arts.

It includes interviews with writers, painters, composers, filmmakers and other artists, who accepted the challenge of making a creative career in a country which is often blind to the value of the arts.

Culture in a Small Country has an unusual, down-to-earth approach since it looks not only at artistic innovations but also at practical problems, public scandals, and the struggle in a small society to reach critical mass.

“Like so many others, I have been waiting for this book. Horrocks’ big picture history is convincing and revelatory because his insider’s knowledge of the arts is so uniquely broad and deep.” — Wystan Curnow


Roger Horrocks (MNZM) is an Emeritus Professor of the University of Auckland, where he taught a well-known poetry course before becoming Foundation Head of the Department of Film, Television and Media Studies. He has published many books including a biography of the artist Len Lye (for whom he once worked as an assistant), and he wrote the libretto for Eve de Castro-Robinson’s 2012 opera about Lye. He has made films and published two collections of poetry, one of them a finalist in the National Book Awards, and he was a co-editor of innovative literary magazines such as And, Parallax and Splash. Besides serving as a board member and later Deputy-Chair of NZ On Air, he was one of the founders of several important arts organisations, including the Auckland International Film Festival, Script to Screen and NZ on Screen. In 2019 the Royal Society Te Apārangi gave him its important Pou Aronui Award as ‘a champion of New Zealand culture,’ spanning culture that is ‘seen, read and heard.’ The present book is based on a lifetime of involvement and extraordinary range of experience in the arts by one of the country’s most thoughtful commentators.