Digging up the past: Archaeology for the young and curious by Auckland heritage expert David Veart, published by Auckland University Press, is one of five finalists in the non-fiction section of the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards.
The finalists were selected from more than 130 children’s books published in 2011, after the judges had considered not just the content, the story and illustrations, but also the quality of production.
In his first book First catch your weka: A story of New Zealand cooking – also a finalist in national book awards – David Veart revealed his appetite for history, great stories, and calf’s liver as he trolled the heights and depths of New Zealand cuisine.
“So it was a real thrill to work with him as he took those same talents to tackle his own field — archaeology,” says publisher Dr Sam Elworthy.
“Digging up the past is a great journey through New Zealand’s stories — Polynesian voyagers and Chinese miners, dogs for dinner and moa bones under the museum. And it’s an entertaining and informative introduction, for young readers and adults, to what archaeologists do — sifting through ancient rubbish, aging bones using DNA, digging and discovering.
“Digging up the past is a great example of how great writers can engage a wide audience in the big questions that archaeologists are facing.”
The NZ Post Children’s Book Award finalist authors will take part in children’s book events around the country as part of a nationwide celebration of the New Zealand Post Book Awards. The festivities, which are a huge favourite with kids all over the country, begin on Monday 7 May and continue through to Wednesday 16 May when the winners will be announced at a ceremony in Wellington.
David Veart has an MA from The University of Auckland and works as a Department of Conservation historian and archaeologist. He was recently appointed to the Auckland Council’s Heritage Advisory Panel and is an expert on various Auckland landmarks of historical or archaeological significance. He has been fascinated by archaeology since childhood and got his first practical experience during the late 1970s working as a volunteer in London’s ancient Roman archaeological excavations.
He says: “When I was a child, I thought of all archaeology as being associated with exotic locations like Egypt. Our place is just as exciting if we know how to look.”