BIBLIOGRAPHY

The following publications have been published/written by this author :

"A Comedy of Errors, or The Marriage Records of England and Wales 1837-1899". Published in 1998. The story of pioneering research at the General Register Office in 1998. ISBN 0-473-05581-3.

"Terawhiti Bowling Club 1949-1999". Published in 1999 for the club's 50th anniversary, being a history of that club. The club is in the Wellington suburb of Karori. Stocks of books are held by the club. ISBN 0-473-05813-8.

"A Norfolk Index". Published in a very small quantity in 1999. An index to "Waveney Valley Studies", a collection of writings by the late Eric Pursehouse put together after his death to celebrate his work in local history and local genealogy. A4 size, 13 pages. ISBN 0-473-06933-4.

"How Green is our Valley !" Written in 2000, published on the Internet in 2002. The story of the return of weka, the flightless New Zealand bush hen, to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. Written from the birds' viewpoint. With watercolour illustrations. An ISBN is to be obtained for the electronic version and printed publication is under consideration.

"A Comedy of Errors, Act 2". A sequel to the 1998 book, based on two further periods of research at the General Register Office, 2000 and 2001. A much longer book, covering more ground, and revealing more of the structures, operations and failings of the civil registration records. Published in 2002. ISBN 0-473-07480-X.

"Stormy Petrol ?". The story of the shipping of oil products to New Zealand ports from the new refinery at Marsden Point. Not smooth sailing by any means. (In preparation). Sketch of this book

"That's Shell . . . .?", published as a CD March 2005, ISBN 0-476-01488-3, and several times updated. This is a critique of the 2004 book "Shell in New Zealand", a history of Shell operations in New Zealand. That book contains many hundreds of errors, an extraordinary number of errors of fact and incorrect explanations and descriptions of events. With a long personal and family association with Shell, I have been dismayed that a great story has turned out so badly. The critique is in the form of a PDF file of more than 200 pages.

The book was based heavily on staff reminiscences, many with glaring errors. Even those of former senior managers have had major faults. The book was written by an author with no oil background. There was no effective editorial supervision and no real checking before publication. The material from only one ex manager was exemplary and his death before the book was undertaken must be seen as a prime reason for the disastrous outcome. Don Niven was a fund of knowledge and enthusiasm and would have ensured a totally better result. As it is, the book was a victim of sad mismanagement, its failure guaranteed from the outset.

The Shell Heritage Society, as publisher, had no committee members with a background in Exploration & Production, refining or supply planning, and none with senior background in finance. Thus it is not surprising that those areas had more than their share of errors. The faults extend, however, through the book from start to finish. Even material taken from three other books has been mangled in the process and has created many errors. There are errors in dates, in figures, in quantities, in concepts, in calculations and to a huge extent in the names of companies involved in the story. I have found errors in other books in the past but just a few. To find errors in hundreds, and from a source with the reputation of Shell, would have seemed utterly unbelievable. The sad sad thing is that it has happened.

Typical errors - Christchurch airport jet fuel 12m litres a year [should be 120m litres], Auckland depot storage for 170,000 tons [less than 20,000 tons], thermophyllic bacteria [thermophilic], "Shell Guide to New Zealand" published 1968 by Shell and Whitcoulls [1969 by Michael Joseph, London. Whitcoulls was formed 1971], Samuel born during the Crimean War [war was 1854-56, Samuel born 1853], the Boron campaign in 1962 [it was 1961], the impressive Peter Snell Highway from Waipu to Marsden Point [it was and is the modest Peter Snell Road and was only to Ruakaka], most of the old refinery was either demolished or moved [it was upgraded and remained in place], the 34-inch gas line to Huntly [it was almost all 30-inch, 28% smaller], Anglo-Saxon Oil Company and Anglo-Saxon Tanker company [it was only ever Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company], hoards of visitors [hordes], ex-patriots [expatriates], RAP with twin pipelines from the refinery...a spur line to Mangere [RAP was a single line, no spur to Mangere]. These are a tiny handful from over 400 errors. It is a truly awful book. There are also so many internal conflicts that it is impossible to know if other information is right. All the errors are presented by the author with total self-assurance.

The CD also contains a new version of the book. My rewritten version of "Shell in New Zealand" is called "She'll be Right". It is more accurate and fuller than the original, correcting, clarifying and amplifying its contents and its style. It lacks the copyright photographs of the original but adds a better index, a glossary of terms and some statistics. The corrections are not only to the hundreds of wrong facts but also to major misinterpretations of events in Shell's history. It adds some important stories that the original missed and rearranges much material that is out of date order. It deals with the many internal contradictions. There will be a few other errors still to be found as I have continued to stumble on new errors as I have worked on the new version. Other former Shell staff have been examining the text and noting other errors and omissions.

The result is already an immeasurably better reference book and hopefully a better presented one. The original was a good story but sadly it was very badly done. I have never met a book with such a huge burden of faults. (It is now available in a paper version - see below).

Copies of my CD can be requested from the address given in this web site or via email at the email address below. The new text has been published as a very small printed edition so that the true story of Shell in New Zealand is on record in the National Library and the Parliamentary Library. Copies have also gone to Shell Group offices in London and to the regional office in Melbourne.

She'll be Right "She'll be Right", ISBN 0-473-10165-3. My printed version of "Shell in New Zealand" is a comb-bound photocopied version in an A4 format. It is available by post within New Zealand at $20 which covers the production cost plus the inland postage. As indicated above, it omits the photographs of its predecessor but adds a set of appendices. It is to be hoped that it now corrects most of the errors in the original. The price is less than half that of the hardcover original, for a text where hundreds of errors have been dealt with and where much that was disorganised and wrong has been rewritten. The new text has been distanced from the original to the extent that it has no sentence that can be said to have come from it. The great wordiness of the original meant that it lost fully 30% of its text length in the rewriting, with new word choices, new sentence structures, new word ordering, quite apart from the correction of errors and addition of new material. It has become a totally new book, acquiring its own copyright.

The Shell Heritage Society is preparing publication of errata but these will necessarily be very incomplete. The error-laden "Shell in New Zealand" will thus continue to sit on shelves in libraries and elsewhere as a totally wrong and dangerous reference book. My hope is to produce a final and acceptably accurate second edition of "She'll be Right". The Heritage Society has set itself against the very idea of a second edition, even though it is the only logical course. A quietly published second edition would seem to most to be a better path than drawing attention to oneself through errata, and incomplete errata at that.

The publisher for the Terawhiti Bowling Club history is the bowling club, at P O Box 17-135, Karori, Wellington 6005. For the other books the author is the publisher, at 30 Campbell Street, Karori, Wellington 6005. Email to mike.foster@paradise.net.nz

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