The revolutionary live interview with Peter Wells


The Spinoff has interviewed Peter Wells about his memoir Dear Oliver:

‘The return of the patented Spinoff revolutionary live email interview, this time with Peter Wells, author of a new book devoted to the subject of “reclaiming  Pākehā history”.

‘Peter Wells is unwell. You may well have read about it in Hello Darkness, his intimate and sometimes harrowing series published at the Spinoff. It records his struggle with cancer. All life-threatening illnesses take up rather a lot of time but Wells is now having to attend to his new book Dear Oliver: Uncovering a Pākehā history. It’s a family memoir, and also operates as an unflinching portrait of his mother Bess – and as a portrait of the author.

‘And so it’s an intensely personal story. But Wells is an acclaimed and highly original historian, and his book traces the progress – and dramas, and scandals – of his mother’s family  in an attempt to tell wider truths about post-settler, post-colonial Pākehā life in New Zealand. It’s as though Wells is daring to assert the moral rights of Pākehā existence. That may not be entirely welcome. What’s he playing at? Why’s he doing it? Is he Don Brash in disguise?

‘Such questions run like a fast stream behind the following live email interview with Wells, which was conducted on Tuesday from 8:30am to 12:30pm. The format – a question is emailed, the answer is sent back, read, digested, and then another question is emailed, etc – allows for a kind of literary correspondence. It also allows for hot drinks. I drank tea at my home in Te Atatu; Wells fortified himself with coffee at his home in Greenlane. He also has a home in Napier which he shares with his partner Douglas Lloyd Jenkin.’

Read the full interview here.