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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 6 (September 2, 1935)

New Zealand Stories

page 9

New Zealand Stories.

For any story to be worth-while it must have an elemental background of facts based on the country or subject to which it is related. Hence the richest literature has been drawn from those countries where the life of the people is most diversified both in daily routine and in the larger movements and tendencies of economic and political conditions. Even such purely imaginative works as Pilgrim's Progress and Alice in Wonderland depend for their power on a very thorough knowledge of biblical teaching in the one case and physical laws in the other. Shakespeare's power lies in his presentation of the English life and philosophy of his own day, whether the stage be set in England, France or Padua. He lived in a period rich with opportunity and development.

New Zealand, the country of all the world richest in natural resources, has all the qualities which go to form the background of a great literature. Here education to a reasonably high standard is universal, with ample opportunities for extension to the higher branches. Here a favourable climate not only brings great returns from the soil but encourages physical activity, so that health and long life are the common lot. In productive capacity the country is unexcelled, and the individual output of work, in any line of endeavour where comparisons under equal conditions with other countries can be made, is proof of the high standard of industry and intelligence of its people. Freedom is here, too, and opportunity for enterprise in any desirable direction.

New Zealand writers should read the books of other lands not to be able to write similarly, but to know what has already been done and to ensure that any efforts they make may work a new ore of more precious metal than is to be found among the tailings of other countries. There is a wealth of materials to work on. In this country more worth recording happens in a year than in any two centuries of Britain's earlier history. No country has seen such development at any time in the world's history as has New Zealand in the last ninety years.

The New Zealand Authors' Week, decided on for about March next, should show New Zealanders how much has already been done to lay the foundation of that great literature which this country is destined to produce, and the efforts of the promoters are worthy of all commendation and support.

The worth of the work of some contemporary New Zealand authors has been undervalued by their own people and the movement to draw pointed attention to the already great achievements of the principal New Zealand writers should do much to bring their work into true perspective in the eyes of their fellow countrymen. Some of the best work has been done by authors who have seen clearly and applied their genius to the facts supplied by their own country's history, its resources, life and manifold activities and the varied and changing outlook of its people. It should also be an encouragement to the younger generation of writers, most of whom (and there is a large army of them) can write well and some of whom have already shown that spark of genius which should be fanned into flame by the necessary encouragement of practical support for their efforts.