Former teacher and Kapiti deputy-mayor Roger Booth has recently co-authored a book on legendary entertainer Ray Woolf. In the article below he explains the interest in famous New Zealand cultural figures.

Roger Boothby Roger Booth

The importance of books

I now have had three books out on iconic New Zealand arts identities — Bruno Lawrence, Sir Jon Trimmer, and now Ray Woolf.  Why?

Firstly and mainly, because the books need to be out there to recall details about key figures in our arts history.  Books will be around for a long-time yet, and certainly will be around as long as you and I are around.  Libraries will continue to be the place to go, and earlier history (pre-web) will only be on the web if particular written texts are copied onto the web.

Having done a lot of research in both the arts and sport I know that the web’s memory is very thin, and you have to, from not many years back, find stuff in books, newspapers and people’s mementos and memories.

Secondly, my three subjects had/have a lot of arts skill to pass on to future generations, and a book is one way to do that.  In the New Zealand arts world you can start with your development of basic arts skills, but you then need to reinvent and develop arts survivors skills.

Important stories to tell

These legends each had a story to tell, and in that respect Bruno was streaks ahead of the others with a fund of stories generated through the life of a very skilled but hard-case guy. And when that was published, back in 2000, a lot of people were still buying lots of books.

Not so today. Why buy a book on Sir Jon or Ray?  Many are close enough to buy one mainly out of respect.  But the reinvention and development of survival skills is now important in selling books about my sort of subjects.

A good number of people have bought Jon’s book for their children and their grandchildren pursuing their arts interests. (Why Dance, on Sir Jon Trimmer, is available from good bookshops.)

(You can purchase Hey Woolfie: Welcome to the World by Ray Woolf and Roger Booth from the website Woolfie