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Book & Print in New Zealand : A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa



Hans Wagemaker's Achievement in Reading Literacy (1993) is a comprehensive breakdown of the reading achievement of a group of 9- and 14-year-old readers undertaken as part of an international Unesco survey which discusses the factors influencing reading achievement and puts New Zealand's overall performance in an international context. A commentary on the survey is offered in Comprehending the Recent IEA Reading Literacy Survey (NZEI, 1993) which discusses the high correlation between a country's reading achievement and economic indicators. Ministry of Education reports such as Boyd and Bennie's A Summary of Reading Recovery Data (1989), and Henson's Reading in the Middle and Upper Primary School (1991), and the Research Bulletin produced by the Ministry of Education provide continuing information on reading achievement.

Janet Maconie's Survey of Teenage Reading in New Zealand, published for the 1969 New Zealand Library and Book Week, surveys the reading habits of fourth formers and the availability of reading resources for teenagers. A community reading survey carried out in Levin in 1978 published by the New Zealand Book Council (Kate Fortune, 1982) revealed the community percentage of what the study described as 'heavy readers' and provided rare information on reading habits. Monthly publications like the Booksellers News (1988- ) or the quarterly Booknotes, newsletter of the New Zealand Book Council, provide a record of bestseller lists, book events and some indication of readerships.

Adult literacy was not publicly recognised as a problem in New Zealand until the early 1970s when organised literacy programmes were developed. Kathleen Hill's From This Fragile Web (1990) is an informal history of the Adult Literacy Movement in New Zealand, which began in Hawkes Bay in 1974 with the Hawkes Bay Adult New Readers Programme. John Benseman's Taking Control Over Their Own Lives (1989) is a study of the Auckland Literacy Scheme and a history of ARLA, the Adult Reading and Learning Assistance Federation. Benseman points out there is very little research on adult literacy in New Zealand and includes a useful discussion of available research work. An NZCER survey A Job-Related Survey Among Electric Power Board Workers (1983) looks at workplace literacy, as does Literacy At Work (1993), which is a joint ARLA/Fletcher Challenge project surveying literacy in 17 companies from a number of different industries in the Fletcher Challenge group. Angela Irwin's study for the Department of Education The Literacy Needs of Access Students (1988) and A.D. Mudford's Literacy Survey of Prison Inmates (1993) also focus on the literacy of particular groups.

In 1988 the Caxton Press published Michael's Challenge Overcoming Illiteracy by Michael Marquet, an autobiographical account of the author's speech and learning difficulties and achievement of literacy in the Christchurch Adult Reading Scheme. Marquet's book won the Unesco Literacy Award for 1988 and was followed by a fuller account including his trip to Paris to receive the award, Literacy My Prize (1991). It is estimated there are 50,000-100,000 adult New Zealanders with literacy problems. Unesco continues to be involved with literacy work in New Zealand, publishing papers on progress in literacy and supporting conferences. In 1990, International Literacy Year, Unesco supported the International Literacy Year hui on Māori and Pacific Island issues in literacy and the 17th NZRA conference Nurture the Culture in the same year published a variety of papers on literacy and had as its keynote speakers Dame Marie Clay and Leanna Traill on 'Educational Culture: Aotearoa'. Literacy issues are also of interest to economists. Ian Livingstone's Literacies, Numeracies and Scientific Understandings (1994) discusses the relation between education and economic growth.