One Question Quiz
Jan Tinetti (Image: Archi Banal)
Jan Tinetti (Image: Archi Banal)

BooksAugust 30, 2023

MP Jan Tinetti’s most overrated book and other secrets

Jan Tinetti (Image: Archi Banal)
Jan Tinetti (Image: Archi Banal)

Welcome to The Spinoff Books Confessional, in which we get to know the reading habits and quirks of New Zealanders at large. This week: Labour MP and minister of education Jan Tinetti.

The book I wish I’d written

Goodnight Mr Tom by Michelle Magorian. It’s an amazing book that I would read to my kids when I was teaching. It really helped young people understand tragedy while simultaneously being full of hope.

Everyone should read

Helen Kelly by Rebecca Macfie – because all New Zealanders should know what an amazing contribution she made and how change is possible.

The book I want to be buried with

I don’t want to be buried with books! They are full of life.

The first book I remember reading by myself

Ballet Shoes – it was a picture book and I was about 3 years old.

Fiction or Non-fiction?


From left to right: the book Tinetti wishes she’d written; the book she thinks we should all read; and the book that haunts her.

The book that haunts me

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton.

The book that made me laugh

Anything by Marian Keyes.

The book I never admit I’ve read

Anything by Marian Keyes.

If I could only read three books for the rest of my life they would be

  1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  2. Harry Potter by J K Rowling
  3. Auē by Becky Manawatu

The plot change I would make

Pride and Prejudice – I would have had Lizzie find her independence and not be married off.

Most overrated book

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

The most underrated book

Mophead by Selina Tusitala Marsh.

Encounter with an author

I met Selina Tusitala Marsh – she was vibrant and inspirational.

Greatest New Zealand book

Tangi by Witi Ihimaera.

From left to right: Tinetti’s best Aotearoa book; the book she’d make a plot change to; and the book she thinks is underrated.

Greatest New Zealand writer

Witi Ihimaera.

Best thing about reading

Books take you to another land.

Best place to read


What are you reading right now?

My cabinet papers!

You can purchase or order the books mentioned above at Unity Books Wellington and Auckland.

Keep going!