Tales from the Lucky Generation: The rise, fall and redemption of a Kiwi working-class ‘hero’ and the stories that shaped his life

Bob Calkin



Bob Calkin was born in 1935 and grew up as Aotearoa New Zealand was entering a period of unprecedented stability and boom times. Tales from the Lucky Generation follows Bob’s rise from humble roots in working-class Whanganui to the world of law and business before a spectacular fall from grace landed him with a six-year prison sentence.

Imprisonment changed Bob from an ambitious go-getter to a thoughtful, socially conscious man intent on recovering his sense of self-worth by making a positive contribution to society. His experience of the criminal justice system brought him into contact with dozens of disaffected young men and he set about studying the social causes of the wave of crime which, according to his PhD research, exploded from around 1970. Bob’s research has never been more relevant as we continue to deal with the fallout from the resulting crime and alienation.

In the best traditions of meaningful autobiography, Tales from the Lucky Generation is also replete with useful and well-researched information about the changing political and economic environment that framed his life, and offers hope and advice for the future.

About the Author

Bob Calkin was born into a working-class family in Whanganui in 1935 and attended Whanganui Technical College between 1948 and 1952. He graduated with a law degree in 1957 from Victoria University and became a partner at just 25 in an Invercargill law firm. He married Claire in 1959 and they had two children of their own and fostered two.

After moving to Palmerston North, Bob practised law and began following business interests. In 1979 he was convicted of a number of fraud-related charges and served a term of imprisonment between 1979 and 1983. While in prison he studied extramurally through Massey University and achieved a BA in sociology and religious studies.

Upon his release from prison Bob completed a doctorate in sociology related to the emergence of the criminogenic nature of New Zealand society and the crime/imprisonment cycle. During this period he was active in the community, working with a number of organisations supporting former prisoners, as well as playing a leading role in a community housing venture. He also carried out a number of research projects dealing with experiences of people who were struggling on the margins of society.

After the death of his wife, Bob moved to the Kāpiti Coast in 2017 to be with his son and daughter-in-law, reflect on his rise, fall and redemption as a member of what he terms the Lucky Generation, and to write his memoir.

Look Inside


ISBN: 978-1-99-110332-1

Pages: 240 (inc. 16pp photos)

Dimensions: 229mm x 152mm

Author: Bob Calkin

Published: April 2024


‘Refreshing, captivating, thought-provoking …’
– Dr Greg Newbold