Every spring on Gregory O'Brien's front lawn, on a ridgetop in Hataitai, an upside-down dinghy blooms with flowering clematis. In this book, O'Brien takes his metaphorical dinghy to the edges of New Zealand - starting with a road trip through Northland and then voyaging out into the Pacific, to lead us into some under-explored territories of the South Pacific imagination.
With creative spirits such as Janet Frame, Ralph Hotere, Robin White, John Pule and Epeli Hau`ofa as touchstones, O'Brien suggests how we New Zealanders might be re-imagining ourselves as an oceanic people on a small island in a big piece of water. Always Song in the Water is a book of encounters, sightings and unexpected epiphanies. It is a high-spirited, personal and inventive account of being alive at the outer extremities of Aotearoa New Zealand.
`This is my field notebook, my voyaging logbook,' Gregory O'Brien writes, `this is my Schubert played on a barrel organ, my whale survey, my songbook.' Among the many artists whose work is featured are John Pule, Robin White, Phil Dadson, Fiona Hall, Euan Macleod, Laurence Aberhart and the Sydney-based painter Noel McKenna, who produced numerous works specifically for this book.