Sunday, June 14, 2020

Fun picture book celebrates the great Kiwi holiday and the great Kiwi longdrop


As New Zealand emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic the family holiday on the coast has a great attraction. 

The Longdrop will rekindle those memories and laughs for kids, parents and grandparents in a distinctive Kiwi style. 



Here are all the ingredients of the coastal getaway — a  caravan, a beach and the sometimes-smelly toilet shed out the back of the holiday section — the longdrop.

Author Joan Joass took inspiration from a real-life event holidaying with her family, when her husband Paul saw there was too much paper in their outside loo — and decided the quickest solution was to light it! 




In the book, the kids just need to go, and the public loo is sooo far away from their caravan. So, Dad builds a longdrop.

When the paper builds to capacity Dad thinks and thinks and solves his problem — with a match. Much hilarity ensues, as the parent and kids rally round to show what family is all about. 



To capture the true-blue Kiwi atmosphere, Joan teamed up with veteran illustrator Bob Darroch — and says she’s totally delighted with the way he has brought her words to life.


As a former teacher, Joan has taken pleasure in compiling a Teacher Resource to support the book's use in schools. To see the resource click here.

The authors



Joan Joass is a retired primary school teacher with science degree in geology and chemistry and a career that includes stints as a wine-laboratory technician and a bus driver. This is her first picture book. Joan lives on Herald Island, West Auckland.   

Bob Darroch has written and illustrated numerous children’s books over a long career, including his bestselling Little Kiwi series. He lives in Temuka, South Canterbury. 

Publication: 16 June 2020  |  RRP $19.99  |  ISBN:  978-0-947506-71-1
Paperback, 230 x 215 mm, 32 pages, colour

Friday, June 5, 2020

Te Kuia Moko bring paintings of kuia bearing chin moko to readers nationwide


A revered selection of paintings of Māori women bearing moko kauae has returned to life in a new printing of Harry Sangl’s celebrated book Blue Privilege, to be published in June as Te Kuia Moko.

Newly arrived in New Zealand in 1969, Prague-born artist Harry Sangl became captivated by the paintings of kaumatua and kuia (elders) of  C.F. Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer. 

He believed kuia with moko kauae (chin tattoos) were of a bygone era — until he saw a photograph of one in March 1972 in the New Zealand Herald

Haromi Rutene Karaitiana (Ngāi Tūhoe) sits for her portrait by Harry Sangl
Tiria Tuhoro was her name. Harry packed up his caravan and left that same day to find her at Ruatoki, near Te Urewera. So began a three-and-a-half-year journey around the North Island, completed portraits of 34 kuia with moko, with their permission. 
The portrait and biography of Herepo Rongo (Tainui) in Te Kuia Moko
His celebrated paintings were published as The Blue Privilege in 1980, accompanied by biographies of the women in their own words and black-and-white sketches of their moko, along with essays by Merimeri Penfold and D.R. Simmons.
Merimeri Penfold's essay elucidates the importance of moko kauae in Māori society
All the works were shown together again in 2019 in a popular exhibition at the Depot Artspace in Devonport, Auckland (see coverage on Te Karere here).

Following up on the interest that exhibition stirred, Harry and his daughter Michaela have worked with Auckland printers Soar Print and publishers Oratia Books to prepare this affordable paperback edition. 

Harry with daughter Michaela (left) and granddaughter Isla (right) in front of the remains of Tiria Tuhoro's house in Ruatoki in 2015
The author
Harry Sangl was a professional artist in Germany before emigrating to New Zealand in 1969 and beginning his journey into te Ao MāoriAn exhibition of his kuia moko prints was held at Auckland’s Depot Artspace in March 2019. Now in his nineties, Harry lives in Auckland. 

Publication: 9 June 2020  |  RRP $65  |  ISBN:  978-0-947506-77-3

Paperback, 330 x 250 mm, 100 pages, colour



Monday, June 1, 2020

Queen's Birthday Honours recognise authors and publishers

Hearty congratulations to the recipients of the Queen's Birthday Honours announced today.

Author Tessa Duder, who has published two books with Oratia, receives the fourth-highest honour in recognition of her services to literature.

Tessa is made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Tessa Duder
Click through for more info on Tessa's books The Story of Sir Peter Blake and Out on the Water.

It's also fabulous to see independent publisher David Ling honours as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the publishing industry.

David has devoted his working life to publishing quality work from New Zealand authors, and successfully directed David Ling Publishing and his Duck Creek Press children's imprint over several decades.
David Ling
His website can be seen here.

Among other literary figures honoured were editor Don Long, novelist Elizabeth Knox and poet Cilla McQueen.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Oratia takes its place on the international stage (online, of course)

Oratia Books' publisher Peter Dowling is set to appear online in two international seminars this week, helping to profile the New Zealand book business and share insights with publishers around the globe. 

At 8 pm on Wednesday 20 May, Peter will take part in a live session about New Zealand publishing on the Publishers Without Borders Facebook page. 

He'll join two fellow councillors from the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) — Melanee Winder, Managing Director of Hachette New Zealand and PANZ Vice President, and Nicola Smith, Managing Director of Invercargill-based Essential Resources, who is one of two educational publishing councillors. 

The three will be in discussion with UK-based publishing consultant Emma House, the former International Director of the British Publishers Association. 


Then on Thursday 21st morning at 9 am NZ time, Peter will be online to São Paulo for a roundtable organised by the Brazilian Book Chamber (CBL). 

The chamber's Executive Director Fernanda Garcia will quiz Brazilian marketing guru Fabio Dantas and Peter about business opportunities and how to innovate during crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic. 

To be conducted in Portuguese, the session takes place at 6 pm on 20 May São Paulo time, and is open to members of the Chamber.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Rush to Riches — capturing the essence of our great kauri and gold rushes

THIRD IN NON-FICTION SERIES RECOUNTS NZ’S TWO GREAT COMMODITY RUSHES 
Rush to Riches: Kauri and Gold – Gordon Ell 


Colonising New Zealand was as much a scramble for wealth as an imperial venture. The rush to exploit the country’s gold and kauri is a story of innovation and determination, as well as greed and thuggery.



Those stories are told in Rush to Riches: Kauri and Gold, the third book in The NZ Series — a fact-packed, smartly design collection on New Zealand society, history and geography for readers from intermediate school on up.
Rush to Riches tells how the discovery of gold in New Zealand in the 1800s led thousands of people to rush to overnight tent towns set among isolated mountains and rivers. 


Meanwhile in the north, vast forests of giant kauri trees cloaked the land. Yet now only a tiny fraction of the trees survive in threatened forests, and many gold-mining settlements are just ghost towns. 

The rushes of both industries drew Māori and British, and also Americans, Australians, Dalmatians and Chinese to these areas. 
They brought their cultures and adapted technology to extract their desired riches — kauri timber and gum from forests and fields in the north, gold from the rivers and mountains mostly in the South Island.

Rush to Riches explains gold and kauri extraction, and presents characters that became famous and infamous as they toiled to become rich. 

Plentiful illustrations and fact boxes show how these industries shaped our society and left their mark on our environment.

All the books in The NZ Series give readers a broad range of rich, visually stimulating introductions to what makes our country unique (read about the other titles here). 

The author
Gordon Ell is a well-known writer and publisher with a life-long interest in New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage. He has written more than 30 books for adults and children, and was the founder of the Bush Press. Originally from Christchurch, Gordon lives in Takapuna, Auckland. 




Publication: 8 May 2020  |  RRP $29.99  |  ISBN:  978-0-947506-70-4
Paperback, 240 x 160 mm, 100 pages, 2 colour

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Le Quesnoy authority and author Christopher Pugsley features on TV3 this Anzac Day

The taking of Le Quesnoy by Kiwi troops in the dying days of the First World War will feature in a new documentary on TV3 on Anzac Day.

Author Christopher Pugsley features in the documentary, to screen at 7.30 a.m. this Saturday 25 April (and from 8.30 a.m. on TV3+1).



Pugsley's dynamic book on the taking of the French town, Le Quesnoy 1918, was published in an updated edition in March.

Anzac Day celebrations this year have been severely curtailed by restrictions in place to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Broadcast and online coverage will therefore be ever more vital. 

Christopher has offered his reflections on the Anzac Day in a time of pandemic in the Auckland Museum's Online Cenotaph


Christopher Pugsley
Fortunately, online book sales will resume from 28 April, so our distributors PDL can ship out orders made via your local bookseller; check here for a list of independent bookstores.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Oratia shortlisted for 2020 BOP Bologna Prize, Best Children's Publisher in Oceania

Covid-19 may have caused the cancellation of this year's Bologna Children's Book Fair but the show goes on, with a virtual fair and rights exchange starting online from 4 May — and a continuation of its prestigious prizes.

It's thus a thrill to see Oratia Books shortlisted in the Oceania section of the BOP – Bologna Prize for Best Children's Publishers of the Year.

The prize is described as “an extraordinary occasion to highlight publishers at the forefront of innovation in their activity for the creative nature of the editorial choices they have made during the previous year.”

Six prizes are awarded by geographical area. This year Wellington's Huia Publishers is shortlisted with Oratia in the Oceania section, alongside three Australian publishers. 

Click here to see all the regional shortlists.

Exhibitors who were to take part in the 2020 fair are able to vote for their favourites in the award in the next ten days. 

Winners will be announced online on 4 May. 

Books from shortlisted publishers including Oratia on display at Bologna in 2018
Congratulations to the team who make our children's book shine, led by Editorial Director Carolyn Lagahetau, with designers Cheryl Smith and Sarah Elworthy.

Thank you to the talented children's authors and illustrators whose new books we published in 2019: Trish Bowles, Melanie Drewery, Tracy Duncan, Gordon Ell, Sarah Ell, Darryn Joseph, Ross Kinnaird, Dawn McMillan and Munro Te Whata.

And a special note of appreciation to Elena Pasoli and her amazing team at the Bologna Children's Book Fair, who have worked incredibly hard during the terrible days of epidemic in Northern Italy to ensure the spirit of the fair lives online. Siamo con voi!

— Peter Dowling, Publisher, Oratia Books

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Oratia Books Catalogue 2020 showcases 12 new titles

The Oratia Books Catalogue 2020 is out now in digital form. 


The catalogue presents the 12 new titles we will publish in this, the 20th year in business for Oratia Media. 

Because of restrictions in place during the present Covid-19 lockdown, sales and distribution of books are on hold and some of our planned release dates have shifted. 

We will wait to print the catalogue until the schedule is confirmed, and when we're actually allowed to print again!

But rest assured we will see all these books to publication, and continue to expand our overall list both in print and digitally this year and beyond. 

The catalogue introduction follows; click here to view the whole thing.

The year 2020 sees another milestone for Oratia Media — August marks 20 years since we set up the company to supply publishing and media services internationally. The nikau palm logo that our media director Alessandra Zecchini designed back in 2000 is reflected in the cover photo, taken outside our office in leafy Oratia.
Twenty years on, we’re still proudly assisting organisations and individuals to publish their books, while developing the list that we launched in 2009. This year will bring 12 additions to Oratia Books, along with renovation of our growing backlist.
Responding to the welcome upsurge in Māori-language learning, 2020 kicks off with David Kārena-Holmes’ handy guide, Te Reo Māori: The Basics Explained. Bilingual editions of 12 Huia Birds/12 Manu Huia, Tim Tipene’s newest ‘modern myth’ in Rona Moon, and Dawn McMillan’s charming There’s a Weta on My Sweater offer plenty of language enrichment for younger readers.
Also for the kids is the rollicking yarn The Longdrop (familiar to anyone who’s had a Kiwi family holiday), a stunning take on the universe in Space Maps, and a delightful new character from bestselling duo Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird in Sir Singlet. For slightly older readers there’s the third in The NZ Series: Rush to Riches is a lively illustrated account of the colonial rushes for kauri and gold.
Our adult non-fiction is strongly told and illustrated, ranging from the nostalgic photo-led Life with Cars to the classic paintings of women bearing chin and lip tattoos in Te Kuia Moko. Ron Crosby has condensed his seminal The Musket Wars into a brilliant new history, while Matthew Wright gets to the heart of a New Zealand legend in Freyberg.
Publishing has changed a lot over the past 20 years, yet today books remain as vital as ever to our understanding of the world around us. Read on to discover more about books from Oratia.




Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Staying afloat during the COVID-19 lockdown

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended our accustomed way of living and working, and caused death and suffering in many countries. 

In February we were in close contact with our agent, printers and colleagues in China as the first wave of the coronavirus spread there. Happily everyone has made it through well and normal life is resuming.
Flying the Italian Tricolore in Oratia
Now we are feeling saddened and worried for our family and friends in Italy, and extend our amore and solidarietà to all, especially in Alessandra’s home areas of Emilia-Romagna, Lombardia and Veneto, who have been hit so hard by the virus. Il nostro cuore è con voi!

Our most sincere condolences to Paola della Valle, author of the Oratia book From Silence to Voice, who has lost of her mother to the epidemic in Turin. Our heart goes out to you, Paola. 

The spread of the disease to other parts of Europe and North America is gravely concerning, and we wish our family, friends and business partners there all the best for this challenging period. 

We applaud the New Zealand government’s move to a Level 4 alert here, which is confining New Zealanders to their homes for four weeks minimum and closing all but essential work and services. 
The latest title in The NZ Series will now publish on 8 May
Oratia is lucky to be a home-based business so there was no need for a transition to remote work. We feel for our publishing colleagues and bookstores who had to reconfigure rapidly as the lockdown closed in on us. 

We are all having to adapt to not being able to sell or ship physical books while these are considered non-essential services.

The first consequence is rescheduling our next two books. Rush to Riches: Kauri and Gold moves from April to an 8 May publication date — the books are printed and ready now, but we have no way to distribute them.

Harry Sangl’s beautiful painting collection Te Kuia Moko: The Last Tattooed Maori Women, which is printing in New Zealand, will now publish on 9 June. 
Te Kuia Moko will now be available in June
The Oratia Books 2020 Catalogue will be out later this week, as planned. All the books are on schedule for completion this year, and we’ll just have to adapt timing and print options depending on how the fight against COVID-19 proceeds. 

Our New Zealand booksellers are the key to keeping New Zealand authors are print, so while shops are closed we recommend readers to bide their time and then get back to their local bookseller (be it bricks-and-mortar or online) once it's safe to do so.
The 2020 catalogue is ready
In the interim now we’re looking into expanding our Ebook range, to ensure more of our books continue to be available to readers. 

Among the industry initiatives underway — virtual launches, online reading and sharing of favourite reads – some of our authors are taking the lead also. Click here for Tim Tipene’s reading oMāui – Sun Catcher

Meanwhile useful advice from the Publishers Association of New Zealand, some of which is of general interest, is available here.

We wish everyone a safe and healthy period at home, and we’ll keep in contact. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Stay Home New Zealand, and read books :-)


As we move into lockdown in Aotearoa to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, our thoughts are with our many friends and colleagues in Italy who have endured weeks of terrible news during their time at home. The Italian campaign Io Resto a Casa (which has its equivalent in #StayHomeNZ) recommended reading as an essential activity while staying at home, and we agree. Oratia will remain open from our home offices during the Level 4 lockdown, and will do whatever we can to help Kiwis have books to read, whether in print or electronic form.

Image credit <a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/home">Home vector created by freepik - www.freepik.com</a>

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Keeping the history of Le Quesnoy up to date


Since its publication in October 2018, Christopher Pugsley's Le Quesnoy 1918 has shared with thousands of readers the gripping story of how The New Zealand Division broke through German defensive lines to capture the French town of Le Quesnoy in its last and most successful action in the First World War. 

Among those readers have been many descendants of soldiers involved in the action, some of whom contacted the author to provide further commentary about their family members. 

With the information that has come to light, Christopher has been able to update a number of details — notably   the addition of two names to the list of casualties in the period 1–7 November 1918 or who died after from wounds sustained. 

They were Lance-Corporate David MacKay of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and Private Roy Walker of the New Zealand Cyclist Battalion, both young men in their twenties who were killed on 1 November 1918.



The new entries for those who lost their lives during the Le Quesnoy ation
That takes the total of the New Zealanders who died liberating Le Quesnoy to 191, and the book is dedicated to ensuring they are not forgotten.

Le Quesnoy 1918 now has a new red colour to its cover, marking this updated edition that is out today, just over a month ahead of Anzac Day commemorations.


Dr Christopher Pugsley is one of New Zealand’s leading historians. A retired Lieutenant-Colonel in the New Zealand Army, he was a lecturer in military studies in New Zealand, Australia and UK until his retirement in 2012. His other books with Oratia include The Camera in the Crowd and Gallipoli: The New Zealand Story


Updated edition publishing today, 18 March 2020  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-49-0  |  RRP $39.99
Paperback, 297 x 210 mm portrait, 168 pages (8 pages colour)

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Bum team does lunch

Author Dawn McMillan and illustrator Ross Kinnaird got together with the Oratia team behind their books for a celebratory lunch this past Thursday. 

Lunch at White + Wong's in Auckland's Viaduct offered the chance to toast last October's publication I've Broken My Bum!
The 'Bum' team, from left: designer Cheryl Smith, publisher Peter Dowling, marketing guru Belinda Cooke, illustrator Ross Kinnaird, author Dawn McMillan and editor Carolyn Lagahetau
This sequel to the international bestseller I Need a New Bum! is already in US and UK editions, with rights sold to Brazil and China. 
Dawn's tasty Broken Bum Glue
Dawn prepared jars of Broken Bum Glue to distribute for the occasion (actually a very tasty fruit jelly!).

We were also able to toast the recent publication of the Italian edition of New Bum! Milanese publisher Adriano Salani Editore issued Voglio un nuovo sederino under its Nord-Sud Edizioni imprint (see more at this website).
Ross and Dawn with their favourite new Italian book
Cheers to Dawn, Ross and our talented team who make working together such a load of fun. 

Dawn and Carolyn, exemplifying the author-editor relationship

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Starting the year off in te reo — a new guide to the basics of the language


The welcome upsurge in learning and speaking of the Māori language continues to gather pace across Aotearoa New Zealand.
Along with the growing use of te reo in daily life, demand is such that places in night classes are hard to secure and there’s a shortfall in resources to make learning the language efficient and enjoyable. 

In Te Reo Māori: The Basics Explained, seasoned author and language teacher David Kārena-Holmes helps answer that demand.

With his simple and methodical approach, David explains in simple terms the building blocks of grammar in te reo, showing how to create phrases, sentences and paragraphs. 

After an introductory chapter on pronunciation and written forms of the language, 17 chapters introduce the main base words, particles and determiners that guide their use. 

The book employs real-life examples to illustrate how Māori grammar works day to day.

Te Reo Māori: The Basics Explained draws on David’s previous books and decades of experience teaching and writing about Māori language to provide an essential companion for speakers at any level.

Nelson Public Libraries will be hosting a presentation by David about the book this Saturday 8 February; click here to find out more.

The author
David Karena-Holmes has been a tutor of Māori grammar at schools and institutions in New Zealand since the 1980s. This is his third book on the subject. He contributes a fortnightly newspaper column on te reo, and his poetry and other writings have been widely published. David lives in Whakatū/Nelson.
Publication: 5 February 2020 |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-69-8 |  RRP $34.99
Paperback, 210 x 148 mm portrait, 168 pages b&w

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Taking pride in our publishing services

While it is Oratia's successful trade publishing programme that has built the company's profile and reputation in recent years, custom publishing and communications services have always been at the core of its business. 

Peter Dowling and Alessandra Zecchini founded Oratia Media in August 2000 to help organisations and individuals create the best possible books and communications. 

From a small base of clients in Japan, Europe and New Zealand, the company has expanded over almost 20 years to provide companies and authors around the world with a wide range of services. 



Recent book projects undertaken for public policy advocate Owen Gill and Archetype Book Agents 

Book projects have spanned full-colour, hardback company histories to short-run, black & white paperbacks for self-publishing authors.

Books for individuals, charitable societies, clubs and companies


We now advise widely on best options for production and marketing domestically and internationally, drawing on our decades of collective experience in the book business. 

That includes representing books from other publishers and authors at international book fairs, brokering the best print or digital options, and advising on rights and distribution. 
Our own and clients' books at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2019


Annual reports, magazine supplements and articles, special editions and media planning form a further arm of the Oratia Media portfolio.

Having a multicultural staff and network of contributors enables work across cultures in a range of languages, with particular demand for Māori, Italian and Spanish work.

An English-Spanish supplement produced by Oratia in 2016
As a small team we work closely and collaboratively to create the optimal outcome for our partners, making the often complex business of publishing easy to manage. 

So while it is the Oratia Books list that is more visible these days, it is services work that underpins our business. 

Oratia provided all editorial services for The Tindall Foundation's Annual Report in recent year, including 2018/19 (pictured above)
Indeed, we are just as proud of products finished to the requirements of clients as we are of our own books. 

Please get in touch with Peter (peter@oratia.co.nz, 027 614 8993) to find out how we can help you achieve your publishing and communication goals.

Here's what Owen Gill, author of Turning Point Auckland (published February 2019) had to say about working with us:

"Peter Dowling and the team at Oratia made what could have been a dry policy book into a creative tour de force, mostly by bringing outstanding design and editing to the book. The book was published on-budget and on-time, and to a good reception in the media, which was also arranged by Oratia. I strongly recommend Peter and Oratia for private publishing projects like mine."
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