Chris is a Waikanae based writer and publisher with a keen interest in the outdoors.
An early career as a stained-glass artist led to his first book, with co-author Jock Phillips, In the light of the past – stained glass windows in New Zealand houses (1983). The pair then produced a sequel, The Sorrow and the Pride – New Zealand war memorials (1990).
In the meantime, Chris also wrote and published his first local history, Waikanae – past & present, (1988) co-authored with his mother, Joan Maclean. The success of this volume encouraged him to write more about the local landscape in Tararua – the story of a mountain range (1994). Both these books were published by his imprint, the Whitcombe Press, reviving his family’s publishing interest started by his great grandfather, George Whitcombe, who founded Whitcombe & Tombs in 1882.
Another landscape history, Kapiti, followed in 1999, and won the Montana Book Award for History (2000).
Chris wrote his first biography, John Pascoe, in 2003; then Te Hono – The Connections recalling the life of the Maori artist, John Bevan Ford (2008). However, the latter was abandoned due to legal complications. In the interim, Chris wrote another local history, Wellington – Telling Tales, an account of the capital during the 20th century.
He returned to biography in 2013 with Stag Spooner – Wild Man from the Bush, before embarking on Tramping – A New Zealand History (2014) written with Shaun Barnett.
Their authorial collaboration continued with a companion volume, Leading The Way – 100 years of the Tararua Tramping Club (2019).
The stories behind the writing and publication of a dozen titles during four decades during which the place of books changed dramatically, is recalled in Chris’s 2018 memoir A Way with Words.
His most recent publication, Anxious Autumn – A Covid-19 Lockdown Diary was published in August 2020. Currently, he is working on a history of Whitcombe & Tombs, the nation’s leading bookseller and publisher during the 20th century.