Tuesday, April 6, 2021

First Encounters memorably records the first impressions of Europeans in New Zealand

First Encounters: New Zealand 1642–1840 

Edited by Gordon Ell and Sarah Ell

Father-and-daughter authors Gordon Ell and Sarah Ell build on their impressive legacy of New Zealand books with First Encounters — the fourth in Oratia Book’s growing NZ Series.

This collaboration samples some of the amazing first impressions that Europeans formed when they landed in Aotearoa. 


They had no idea what they would find, and their journals are filled with wonder, curiosity and inevitable misunderstandings. 

First Encounters selects some of the key writings from these early traders, missionaries, explorers and surveyors. 


It covers nearly 200 years from Abel Tasman in 1642 and Joseph Banks in 1769, to early settlers such as John Logan Campbell in 1840 —in first-person accounts that preserve the English of the times.

The text is well illustrated with two-colour imagery and photos, alongside fact boxes explaining historical language, places and events.


The NZ Series now counts four titles, with the fifth, Matthew Wright’s The New Zealand Wars, to publish in July 2021. 

The series introduces New Zealand society, history, science and geography to general readers and students.

Click on these links to read about other titles in the series — Rush to Riches and Pioneer Women, and Volcanoes and Earthquakes.

The authors

Gordon Ell was a writer and publisher with a life-long interest in New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage. He wrote more than 30 books for adults and children during his distinguished career. He passed away last week, having just seen advance copies of his last book.

His daughter, Sarah Ell, is an editor, writer and journalist, who has written ten books, and inherited her father’s love of New Zealand history and the environment.

Publication: 8 April 2021  |  RRP $29.99  |  ISBN:  978-0-947506-90-2
Paperback, 240 x 160 mm, 108 pages, 2 colour

Vale Gordon Ell

It is with great sadness that we acknowledge the passing of author, publisher and environmentalist Gordon Ell last Thursday after a short illness. 

Gordon was a noted writer and photographer on natural and human history, founder and publisher of the Bush Press, and recipient of an Order of New Zealand Merit for services to journalism and conservation.

Gordon had been a key contributor to Oratia's books in The NZ Series, together with his daughter Sarah — providing introductions to New Zealand history and geography for general and student readers. 

Their latest book in the series, First Encounters, will be published this Thursday 8 April, helping Gordon's legacy to live on in print. 

Everyone at Oratia extends their deepest sympathies to Gordon's family and friends.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Celebrating a new book in Māori and Samoan for Auckland Libraries

I was delighted to meet up with the Auckland Libraries whānau last week to celebrate the launch of two children's books that help fill a need for resources in languages other than English.

Oratia worked with the Libraries team led by Anne-Marie Shepherd (Publishing Partnerships Lead) to prepare the books for use in libraries across Auckland.
Written by Māori librarian Teri Ta'ala, Māmā e hiakai ana mātou! tells the delightful story of three kids who are hungry and can't work out what to eat, until their super mum steps in to dish up a delicious meal. 

Celebrating the new publications, from left: No'roa Te Hira Anguna, Teri Ta'ala, Anne-Marie Shepherd, Veronica Ligaliga and Peter Dowling

Veronica Ligaliga, Senior Librarian Pacific Content Development Specialist, stepped in to translate the work into Gaganā Samoa as Tinā ua mātou fia'a'ai!

Both books are colourfully illustrated by Waiheke Island-based artist No'oroa Te Hira Anguna. 

It was a pleasure to work with Anne-Marie and her team to help get these great resources into the hands of young readers. 

Check in at your local library in Auckland or go online to access the books.

Auckland Libraries staff and guests at the books' launch

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

New book in the 'Bum series' makes a big noise globally

New book in the laugh-out-loud ‘Bum Series’ of picture books is on the shelves across the English-speaking world

After discovering a crack in his bum, then breaking his bum while out on his bike, the boy at the centre of this international bestselling series is back with a new problem. 

This time he’s in a fix because strange noises unpredictably issue from his behind! 

There’s tooting and hooting, burping and slurping, and popping and squeaking when Auntie is speaking. But Mum and Dad love their boy and they refuse to make a fuss. 

And see what happens when he is talent-spotted (or talent-heard) by movie scouts … 

Join the beloved character from hit books I Need a New Bum! and I’ve Broken my Bum! when he discovers he has the loudest, and proudest, the most uproarious, victorious, sound-system backside!

Out in all good bookstores across New Zealand now, this bright and boisterous picture book is also for sale from Oratia in Australia.

Scholastic UK has published for the UK and Ireland, while Dover Publications has My Butt is SO NOISY! on sale in the US and Canada. 

The title page of Dover's My Butt is SO NOISY!

The zany illustrations and rhymes will also be finding their way into Mandarin when CITIC Press publishes in China later in 2021.

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.

Out now  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-81-0 | RRP $19.99

Paperback, 230 x 215 mm portrait, 32 pages, colour



Monday, February 15, 2021

Same Same but Different - New Zealand's LGBTQI+ readers and writers festival


Oratia Books attended the Same Same but Different Festival last weekend, where speakers shared experiences from intersecting spaces in their lives such as being queer, being a writer, being a scientist, and positioned from an underlying theme of At Home. All were amazing ambassadors for the creative talent in the LGBTQI+ community. Oratia Books is committed to continued patronage of this very fabulous festival. Visit this Same Same Facebook page for recordings of all the sessions. 

Crime and Punishment, from left: Hilary Lapsley and Lois Cox who write as Jennifer Palgrave, M. Darusha Wehm, host Jen Shieff, Aroha Awarau. Session link: https://fb.watch/3Fs9GL5RaZ/

Queer Bodies from left: Elyssia Ra’nee Wilson-Heti, Jackson Nieuwland, Jesse Bering, host George Parker, Henrietta (Etta) Bollinger. The group were subsequently joined by Ria Hiroki. Session link: https://fb.watch/3Fs7A2Cz-l/

Photos by Carolyn Legahetau

Monday, February 8, 2021

New book by Hona Black will be a valuable reference for writing and speaking te reo Māori

Years of research into kupu whakarite (metaphors and similes) have borne fruit for young Massey University scholar, Hona Black. 

In He Iti te Kupu, he brings together nearly 500 figures of speech into a ready resource for speakers and students of te reo — and anyone who wishes to deepen their language use in New Zealand.

Hona wrote this, his first book, in te reo. That text is printed on the left-hand pages of the book, with his translation into English on the facing right-hand pages.

That lets all readers access the use, meaning and context of the main metaphors and similes in Māori. 

The contents are arranged in chapters such as Ngā manu o uta, o tai – Birds of the land and sea, and Te Moana – The ocean. 


He Iti te Kupu extends Oratia’s popular programme of language reference books, including Māori Place Names and Te Reo Māori: The Basics Explained.

As the new book’s title suggests, ‘Iti te kupu, nui te kōrero’ — ‘Words are small, yet their meanings are substantial’.

Click here for Hona's Facebook post announcing his pukapuka. 

Ka nui ngā mihi ki a koe e Hona mō tō mahi whakamīharo, ki a Darryn Joseph hoki mō tana tautoko i te kaupapa nei. 

The author

Hona Black (Ngāi Tūhoe, Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) lectures on the post-graduate diploma in teaching for Māori medium schools at Te Pūtahi a Toi: School of Māori Knowledge at Massey University in Palmerston North. He has worked as the Senior Māori Adviser on Massey’s Wellington campus, and been Head of Te Reo Māori at Hato Pāora College in Feilding. 

Publication: early February 2021  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-91-9 | RRP $39.99

Paperback, 210 x 148 mm portrait, 232 pages, b&w


Monday, January 18, 2021

Oratia makes commitment to diversity and inclusion through new policy

Oratia Media is starting off 2021 by making a firm commitment to representing diversity in its publishing, personnel and vision.

That is embodied in this policy statement.


Diversity Policy


To be a diverse and inclusive publisher with no barriers to entry for anyone regardless of their background or identity.


Oratia will respect:

·      the central role of the Treaty of Waitangi, respecting Māori as tangata whenua

·      the role of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa

·      the diverse cultures of Aotearoa New Zealand

·      the principle of equal access and opportunity for people of all cultures, ages, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, abilities and religions

This initiative follows our participation in a series of Diversity and Publishing workshops organised by the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) between September and December 2020. 

Diversity specialist Anton Blank of Oranui led those workshops and helped participants to develop policy and tools that will help book publishers to give equal access and value to all sectors of society in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Anton Blank of Oranui, which focuses on generating debate about diversity and giving people skills to deal with a diverse range of population groups

Along with Anton, and Alex Collins and Mish Wickremesekera of Lift Education, Carolyn Lagahetau and Peter Dowling of Oratia sit on PANZ's diversity subcommittee. 

Together they have developed policy and training for PANZ, and this is now extending to members.

We are firmly committed to books and workplaces that represent people of all backgrounds, and aim to carry that through into our future publishing, starting from respect for the Treaty of Waitangi. 


Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Season's greetings from Oratia

A very Merry Christmas and Happy 2021 to all!

Meri Kirihimete me Ngā Mihi o te Tau 2021 ki a koutou katoa!

Wishing all our valued readers, customers, booksellers, authors, illustrators, editors, designers, sales reps, printers, suppliers, friends and colleagues a restorative and happy break over the coming two weeks. 

The Oratia office will be closed from midday Wednesday 24 December until Tuesday 5 January. We look forward to what 2021 brings. 

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Book Giveaway on Kidspot New Zealand!

There is a wonderful book giveaway on Facebook right now: WIN 1 of 3 Dawn McMillan packs for your kids this Christmas. They will love you for it!

Dawn McMillan’s bestselling I Need a New Bum! has made her one of Aotearoa’s most popular children’s authors. But there are plenty of other delightful picture books in her library, including these new ones!
Check out what’s in these prize packs from
📖 Sir Singlet – an hilarious tale of a knight who’d rather design underwear than fight the enemy 👉 https://bit.ly/3gIvQ1r
📖 There’s a Tui in our Teapot / He Tūī kei rō Tīpāta – Tui and his avian friends get up to all kinds of hijinks in the family kitchen 👉 https://bit.ly/39YUkSy
📖 There’s a Weta on my Sweater / He Wētā kei runga i tōku Paraka – chaos ensues when weta and friends want to come along to school with the kids 👉 https://bit.ly/2VVuoz4
TO ENTER go to this link and follow instructions.
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