Thursday, April 28, 2022

Oratia Books Catalogue 2022 — opening borders, opening books

The Oratia Books Catalogue 2022 is out now in print and digital form. 

We fly the Koru Flag on the cover, in homage to its creator Friedensreich Hundertwasser, whose story we'll publish this July in Hundertwasser in New Zealand.

Alongside that deluxe book, this year's catalogue presents more than a dozen new titles across children's and non-fiction genres, along with some significant reprints.

Flying the Koru Flag reflects our desire to embrace the world and new ideas, now that the movement of people and ideas across borders is resuming following pandemic closures.

As ever, this year's programme and our other activities couldn't happen without the incredible authors and illustrators who put their hearts and souls into the books, supported by our talented editors, designers, sales reps and marketers. 

Special thanks to Cheryl Smith and Alessandra Zecchini for the catalogue design and content, and Christine Borra and her team at YourBooks for the fine print job. 

The catalogue introduction follows; click here to view or download the PDF. To request a print copy, please email

As pandemic restrictions start to ease, Oratia embraces the world in 2022. The Koru Flag, designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser as an alternative New Zealand flag, flies in our forest. We will honour this global spirit this year by publishing the story of the artist’s life in New Zealand.

Despite Covid-19 challenges, our international commitment remains undimmed, and was rewarded with the BOP Bologna Prize 2021 for Best Children’s Publisher, Oceania. In that spirit, this year’s children’s list includes the Kiwi–Turkish collaboration The Water Bottle; a blend of Māori, Pākehā and Indian heritage in The River in our Backyardand wide cultural diversity in The Grandmothers of Pikitea Street.

An arts and crafts focus extends from Hundertwasser in New Zealand to a celebration of the great artist Selwyn Muru, and a new edition of Len Gale’s Greenstone Carving. Artist and writer Richard Wolfe reflects on human impact in Footprints on the Land, and our New Zealand Classics edition of A.W. Reed’s Illustrated Māori Dictionary revives Roger Hart’s timeless drawings.

To mark the tenth anniversary of the international hit I Need a New Bum!, September will see a te reo Māori edition. The Bum series rocks on — the fourth, My Bum is SO CHEEKY!, entered bestseller lists in the UK and US early this year. And there’ll be more irreverent fun for kids with the riotous rugby rhymes of Peter Millett’s Hickory Dickory Kick.

Sandra Carrod’s Weather and Climate New Zealand adds a sixth book to The NZ Series, alongside teacher resources to support the series in schools. Also for students or general readers, The Moana Oceania series will introduce Polynesian cultures in English and local languages, thanks to support from Creative New Zealand.

Whoever and wherever you are in the world, we welcome you to find a home with Oratia Books.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Remembering those whose lives were shaped by war

The approach of Anzac Day signals a time to remember the millions of people who were affected by twentieth-century wars, and those whose lives and lands are still ravaged by invasion and civil conflict. 

Oratia Books has a firm commitment to telling the stories of New Zealanders at war, not to glorify the events but better to understand and learn from the experience. 

Children's books such as When Dad Came Home touchingly retell the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder on returning soldiers, and the role of family love in healing. 

Creating reconciliation and friendship from the shared experienced of Gallipoli is the theme  of our latest children's book, The Water Bottle, a collaboration between Kiwi author Philippa Werry and Turkish illustrator Burak Akbay.

For older readers, the most recent of Christopher Pugsley's masterful works of military history narrates New Zealand's last battle of the First World War as it happens. Le Quesnoy 1918 is an on-the-ground account of this daring capture of the French town of Le Quesnoy, vividly relating the realities of warfare. 

A valuable companion to Pugsley's new edition of Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story, Matthew Wright's The New Zealand Experience at Gallipoli and the Western Front analyses what it was like for New Zealand soldiers at the two main battle fronts where they fought, and frames it with the social effects back home.

We will remember them this 25 April. 

For more reading, check the Oratia Books website.

Sunday, April 10, 2022

New edition of standard history of Gallipoli reflects major revision of official numbers

First published in 1984, Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story is a key work in the nation's history.

In the words of the NZ Listener, Christopher Pugsley's first book 'recast our vision of the iconic campaign and simultaneously redefined the art of military-history writing in New Zealand.'

From the initial Hodder & Stoughton publication, editions have followed from Sceptre Paperbacks, Reed Books (NZ) and Penguin Books, before Oratia issued the fifth edition in 2014 in a co-edition with British publisher Frontline Books. 

The book has become a definitive account of New Zealand's role in the disastrous 1915 campaign, when a British-led expeditionary force met the Turkish army in an attempt to wrest control of the Dardanelles. 

This sixth edition builds on a revision of New Zealand troop numbers at Gallipoli by scholars including the late Richard Stowers, David Green, John Crawford and Matthew Buck. 

In his preface to the new edition, Pugsley notes the conclusion of this research is 'that some 16,000–17,000 New Zealanders served on the Peninsula in the campaign, doubling the previously used official figure.'

In light of this and other new work, he has made extensive updates to the book, while retaining its engaging style and extensive photos.

Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story takes us to the campaign through the eyes of the soldiers — ordinary Kiwis whose memories speak through their letters and diaries. 

Gallipoli does justice to the reality of this pivotal campaign for New Zealand and provides the background story to Anzac Day.

The national memorial day marks the anniversary of the Gallipoli landings on 25 April 1915 by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops.

'Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story has become the ‘go-to’ text on Gallipoli’ 

— Sir Jerry Mateparae

The Author

A retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the New Zealand Army, Christopher Pugsley was a lecturer in military studies here, in Australia and the UK. Among his many books are four others with Oratia: The Anzac ExperienceTe Hokowhitu a TuThe Camera in the Crowd  and Le Quesnoy 1918. He is historical director of the ‘Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War’ exhibition at Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, which has now been extended to 2025. A frequent visitor and guide to Gallipoli, Chris lives with his wife in Waikanae Beach.

Publication Date: 8 April 2022 |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-07-0 |  RRP $49.99
Paperback, 240 x 170 mm portrait, 400 pages b&w, 60 photos

Sunday, April 3, 2022

New picture book The Water Bottle honours the Turkish-New Zealand bond forged at Gallipoli

The Water Bottle

Philippa Werry, illustrated by Burak Akbay

Kiwi author and Turkish illustrator join to create children’s book that fosters the bond forged at Gallipoli

It’s cause for hope when countries that were at war can transcend that enmity, even when separated by thousands of kilometres.

That is what New Zealand and Turkey share — a deep friendship that is commemorated each 25 April on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

The Water Bottle not only celebrates that friendship but was born from it — with Kiwi children’s author Philippa Werry working across the globe with Turkish illustrator Burak Akbay to tell a tale that crosses the Gallipoli trenches. 

Young girl Derya and her family move from Turkey to live in New Zealand. Among the heirlooms they bring with them is the water bottle that an Anzac soldier gave her great-grandfather after he had been wounded from Gallipoli.

At school she learns that her classmate Tom had a great-great-uncle who fought at Gallipoli. 

Together with their friend Airini they  learn about the war, attend an Anzac Day ceremony, then come home to make Anzac biscuits with Tom’s mum. 

‘Look at the three of us,’ Airini says. ‘Many years ago our families fought each other, but now we can be friends.

The Water Bottle was created between Turkey and New Zealand via email, Zoom and file sharing. 

Oratia Books in Auckland thanks Philippa and Burak for their amazing work; Göksun Bayraktar and Nazlı Gürkaş of The Black Cat Agency, Istanbul, who shared the initial idea and made it happen; and author Christopher Pugsley for his advice.

The Authors

Philippa Werry is an award-winning author of books for children, both fiction and non-fiction. She is well known for history books including Anzac Day and Best Mates. She lives with her family in Wellington (see 

Burak Akbay is a prominent illustrator and designer of children’s books who lives in Istanbul, Turkey. From his origins in creating comic fanzines, he now illustrates books full-time and loves comics, graphic novels and film noir.

Publication Date: 5 April 2022 |  ISBN: 978-1-99-004215-7 |  RRP $22.99
Paperback, 270 x 210 mm portrait, 32 pages colour

Monday, March 7, 2022

My Bum is SO CHEEKY! now in bookstores across NZ


The latest in the hit ’Bum’ series by Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird is now available in bookstores across New Zealand, after an initial exclusive sales period.

Back by popular demand — after total global sales over 1.5 million copies for previous books in the series — the hero of I Need a New Bum! , I’ve Broken my Bum!  and My Bum is SO NOISY!  finds a range of new crack-up scenarios in a new adventure for 2022.  

My Bum is SO CHEEKY!  finds our boy coping with a super-active bum that just can’t sit still. It’s jiving and dancing and bumping (and, of course, issuing more than the odd fart!). 

Then there’s slouching, puddle jumping, swinging, singing, and finally some shape-shifting and it’s stuck down the back of a chair! 

Mum and Dad come to the rescue: they pull their boy out of the chair and buy the perfect thing to harness their boy’s talents – a trampoline. Before long he’s trampolining for gold at the Olympics! 
Dawn McMillan’s catchy rhymes and Ross Kinnaird’s outrageous illustrations get even the most reluctant readers turning the pages.

The authors

Dawn McMillan 
is the much-loved author of numerous children’s books including I Need a New Bum! Doctor Grundy’s Undies and the 2020 release Sir Singlet. She lives in Waiomu, north of Thames. 

Ross Kinnaird is an illustrator and designer whose books have been published around the world, many of them in collaboration with Dawn. He lives close to the water on Auckland’s North Shore.

Publication Date: 7 March 2022 |  ISBN: 978-1-99-004212-6 |  RRP $19.99
Paperback, 230 x 215 mm, 32 pages colour

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

My Bum is SO CHEEKY! is published worldwide


The latest in the hit ’Bum’ series by Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird is out now in multiple editions worldwide

My Bum is SO CHEEKY! is published in a striking pink edition in New Zealand and Australia, sports a bright red cover for the UK and Europe (published by Scholastic UK), and bask in a green cover with the title My Butt is SO SILLY! in North America (with Dover Books). 

This irresistible tale of a boy whose bum has a life of its own will entertain readers from pre-school to primary age, not to mention raising a smile for the adults too. 

Available in New Zealand through Whitcoulls, then on general release from 7 March. 

The US edition and the series featuring on Dover's website ...

.. and recommended by Scholastic UK's Book Club

Friday, December 24, 2021

Hear hear — audiobook of I've Broken My Bum! and other stories out now!

Audio version of three-book combo narrated by author Dawn McMillan available now

In collaboration with Audiobooks NZ, Oratia is pleased to launch an audio version of the new collection of stories from Dawn McMillan. 

Narrated by Dawn herself, the readalong version is a great way to keep the kids entertained, either by itself or as an accompaniment to the book. 

The audiobook is available on these platforms:




Together with the title story, the collection presents Mister Spears and his Hairy Ears and Charlie and his amazing tales. For more about the book, click here.

Bigs up to Theo Gibson and his team at Audiobooks NZ for creating this slice of audio fun.

From Mister Spears and his Hairy Ears

The authors

Dawn McMillan 
is the much-loved author of numerous children’s books including I Need a New Bum! Doctor Grundy’s Undies and the 2020 release Sir Singlet. She lives in Waiomu, north of Thames. 

Ross Kinnaird is an illustrator and designer whose books have been published around the world, many of them in collaboration with Dawn. He lives close to the water on Auckland’s North Shore.

Publication: December 2021  |  ISBN: 978-1-99-004218-8

Audiobook available online


Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Oratia

A very Merry Christmas and Happy 2022 to all!

Meri Kirihimete me Ngā Mihi o te Tau 2022 ki a koutou katoa! 

Buon Natale e Felice 2022 a tutti!

The Oratia Books team wishes all our valued readers, customers, booksellers, authors, illustrators, editors, designers, sales reps, printers, suppliers, friends and colleagues a restorative and happy break wherever it finds you.

The Oratia office will be closed from midday Friday 24 December until Wednesday 5 January. We look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

The Battlecruiser New Zealand — ‘biography’ of the ship that defined New Zealand's imperial past

The Battlecruiser New Zealand: A Gift to Empire

Matthew Wright

HMS New Zealand is arguably the most famous ship ever to serve the country, even though it was under Royal Navy colours.


It has hitherto featured only in general naval histories, so this classy hardback fills in an often-overlooked chapter in the nation’s story. 


In March 1909 New Zealand’s Premier Joseph Ward offered a ‘first-class battleship’ to the British Navy as a contribution to the Empire (and to guard against the perceived threat of a newly rising Japan). 

Paid for by the people of New Zealand it entered service in time to fight with distinction in the North Sea naval battles of the First World War. 


Born of the collision between New Zealand’s patriotic dreams and European politics, the tale of HMS New Zealand is further wrapped in issues of engineering, naval strategy and public opinion. 

The Battlecruiser New Zealand is a fast-paced account of the ship’s career, brought to life through official documents, eyewitness accounts and new research. Kiwi historian Matthew Wright tells the story as part naval history and part ‘biography’ of the vessel and its sailors.

The result is an elegant hardback, filled with illustrations of the ship during its lifespan — from construction to its triumphant world tour, service in battle and final dismantling for scrap in 1923.

Included is a colour section featuring the ship's construction plans and paintings of its action in the First World War.

Oratia Books is proud to publish this history in a coedition with Seaforth Publishing, UK, one of the world’s premiere  publishers of maritime books. 

The author

Matthew Wright is the author of over 60 books on a wide range of topics for all ages, principally New Zealand history. A highly respected historian, he is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His other books with Oratia are The New Zealand Wars, Freyberg — A Life’s Journey and The New Zealand Experience at Gallipoli and the Western Front. He lives in Wellington.

Publication: 16 November 2021  |  RRP $59.99  |  ISBN:  978-1-526784-0-32 
Hardback, 234 x 156 mm, 288 pages, b&w with colour section

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Pā Henare Tate's master work returns to print

A bold attempt to harmonise Christian and traditional Māori beliefs

Oratia Books is delighted to welcome back into print He Puna Iti i te Ao Mārama, the seminal work of theology and spirituality by the late Pā Henare Tate. 

Pā Tate was a renowned leader of the Catholic Church and his community in the northern Hokianga, Northland. Formerly a lecturer at the Auckland Catholic Institute of Theology and the University of Auckland, he passed away on his ancestral lands at Motutī in 2017. 

In this book, Pā set out to reconcile the deeply held Christian beliefs of Māori with the indigenous world view that they have inherited and are increasingly rediscovering.


He argues that the traditional Christian message has fallen short of speaking intimately and powerfully to the Māori experience. 


He Puna Iti i te Ao Mārama offers one response and contribution to this call by attempting to develop the foundations of an indigenous Māori theology. 


It addresses both the kaupapa (principles) and the tikanga (process or method) whereby such a theology can develop, and then sets out some foundations for it through concepts rooted in Māori culture and history.

He Puna Iti i te Ao Mārama won the non-fiction category in the Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards in 2013.

Out of print for several years, the book has been updated by Ted Ratana and Albert Robertson of DoW Holdings, which administers the Dynamics of Whānaungatanga programme that Pā Tate launched in 1992.

The book retains its central place in the delivery of social programmes and workshops across Aotearoa.

The author

Pā Henare Tate (Ngāti Manawa, Te Rarawa) was formerly a lecturer at the Auckland Catholic Institute of Theology, and the University of Auckland School of Theology. He obtained a doctorate from The Melbourne College of Divinity, and was a specialist in Māori spirituality. Pā passed away on his turangawaewae in the Hokianga in 2017.

Publication Date: 10 November 2021 |  ISBN: 978-1-99-004203-4 |  RRP $80
Paperback, 240 x 160 mm, 320 pages, b&w

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Extinct NZ animals come back to life in Dawn McMillan's third nature story book

There’s a Moa in the Moonlight / He Moa kei rō Atarau

Dawn McMillan

Illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson

Māori text by Ngaere Roberts


The third in Dawn McMillan's bilingual nature story series is out today, bringing our extinct animals back to life in a young girl’s imagination

‘I thought a child’s view of extinct animals was a fun idea with an important message of conserving endangered species,’ says bestselling author Dawn McMillan. 

From that idea emerged There’s a Moa in the Moonlight, the third in Dawn’s series of nature stories following There’s a Tui in our Teapot (2018) and There’s a Weta on my Sweater (2020).


In the beautifully illustrated book in English and Māori, an inquisitive girl peers out her back window as night falls, only to see a moa in the garden munching all the melons!

Before long moa is joined by a laughing owl hooting in the night, huia eating grubs in the hibiscus tree, a Haast’s eagle soaring in the sky, and a kawekaweau lizard gobbling fallen guava.


What will Mum say when she sees all these animals in her garden?

The spread of fact boxes about the animals (shown above) follows the story, helping kids to learn more about our disappeared fauna.


Concludes Dawn: ‘I enjoyed meeting moa and friends and hope that readers will be pleased to meet them too.’


There's a Moa in the Moonlight is out today in good bookstores across the country, and you can find more info here.

The Authors

Dawn McMillan is an internationally recognised writer of children’s books who lives north of Thames. Among her many popular works are I Need a New Bum! and Sir Singlet. Her two previous nature series books are There's a Weta on my Sweater and There’s a Tui in our Teapot, the latter also illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson. Nikki is a widely published author and illustrator, internationally known for her Muddle and Mo series and numerous other children's booksNgaere Roberts is a teacher and translator of te reo Māori who lives in Helensville; she delayed her retirement from translation to complete the reo for There's a Moa in the Moonlight.

Dawn McMillan
Nikki Slade Robinson

Publication Date: 2 November 2021 |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-96-4 |  RRP $25.99
Hardback, 270 x 210 mm, 32 pages colour

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