Monday, July 1, 2024

From Hawai'i to Aotearoa, new book shares the joy of Pacific toes in English and Samoan

Island Toes
Tamatama'i Vae o Motu

Christin Lozano
Illustrated by Mariko Merritt
Translated by Suzie-Jo Rasmussen

Toes are toes wherever you go, but toes around the Pacific Islands have even more things in common. 


They may be flipper toes or jandal toes, clean toes or highchair toes, snorkel toes or swimming underway toes — all around the Pacific, you know that you have island toes. 

This colourfully illustrated book takes young readers on a journey around the South Pacific — no shoes needed! 

First published in Hawai’i by Bess Press, Island Toes now reaches the South Pacific in Samoan as well as New Zealand English. 

Auckland teacher Suzie-Jo Rasmussen completed the Samoan translation for this, the newest addition to Oratia’s Moana Oceania series of books about the Pacific. 

And in honour of its US origins, the book is publishing on 4 July.

The authors

Christin Lozano began her career as a teacher and then became a children’s librarian. Having read hundreds of stories about kids in other places themes, she decided to write her own story for Pacific children.  A long-term resident of Hawai’i, Christin now lives in San Diego.

Mariko Merritt is a Hawaiian artist, book illustrator and graphic designer. Mariko works in a Honolulu bookshop, while making art, ceramics and picture books.

Suzie-Jo Rasmussen is an ESOL/bilingual specialist teacher. A resident of Oratia, Auckland, Suzie has been translating books and creating Samoan resources for children in bilingual education for more than 20 years. 

Publication: 4 July 2024 | ISBN: 978-1-99-004245-4 | RRP $21.00

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

Friday, May 31, 2024

New Nanny Mihi book shares gardening wisdom with kids ahead of Matariki


Publishing ahead of Matariki, Nanny Mihi's Harvest/Te Hauhake a Nanny Mihi is the perfect book to learn about growing a garden, harvesting, and sharing food — letting tamariki (kids) and whānau (families) explore the significance of harvesting for the Māori New Year.


When her mokopuna arrive for the spring school holidays, Nanny Mihi enlists their help to plant seeds in her garden. 

As they return each season, the kids see their labours bear fruit, helping Nanny harvest, cook and preserve all the produce.

When a gardening disaster strikes, in Winter, the hard work they put in earlier means that there’s still enough kai for a soup that tastes like ‘Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter’. 

Author Melanie Drewery shares the values of growing our own food, informed by respect for the Maramataka (Māori lunar calendar).


With this fourth book, the fast-growing Nanny Mihi series is becoming a perennial for Kiwi kids. 

Like the previous story, Nanny Mihi’s Medicine/Ngā Rongoā a Nanny Mihi, this new release is fully bilingual, beautifully illustrated by West Auckland-based artist Suzanne Simpson and superbly translated by Rotoiti-based Kanapu Rangitauira. 

A teacher resource is available at this link to assist with reading in class. 

The authors

Melanie Drewery (Ngāti Māhanga) works as a potter and writer from her home in Māpua, Nelson. She is an established children’s writer with over 20 titles to her name, including Nanny Mihi and the Rainbow and Nanny Mihi and the Bellbird

Suzanne Simpson is an artist who has illustrated numerous picture books and educational texts for children. She lives with her family in Titirangi, Auckland. 

Kanapu Rangitauira (Te Arawa, Ngāti Porou, Te Whakatōhea) is a registered translator and teacher of te reo. He lives with his whānau in Rotoiti, Rotorua. 

Publication: 4 June 2024 | ISBN: 978-1-99-004257-7 | RRP $21.00

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

Monday, May 6, 2024

The story of Ratana retold to the present day in smart illustrated book

Ratana the Prophet

Keith Newman


Timely revised edition of Ratana biography highlights lasting legacy of the church and movement he founded

When politicians descend onto a small pā near Whanganui every January to kick off the political year, the Ratana name is on everyone’s lips. 

The prophet T.W. Ratana

Yet the life of Tahupotiki Wiremu Ratana, and the history and workings of his church and movement, are less known.

At a time where co-governance and The Treaty of Waitangi are at the centre of political debate, the revised edition of Ratana the Prophet is a timely publication. 

Keith Newman tells Ratana’s life story, from his early days as a hard-working farmer, heavy drinker and gambler to the ‘divine’ encounters where he picked up the mantle of earlier Māori prophets, turning the people from fear and superstition and healing them physically. 


Between the two world wars he travelled the country and the world championing Māori mana, and the restoration of Te Tiriti o Waitangi/The Treaty of Waitangi as Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding document.

One of the superb Ans Westra photos that illustrate Ratana the Prophet

Newman carefully traces the activities and influence of the Ratana movement from its foundation in 1918 to the present-day community of around 40,000 followers, and offers a comprehensive account of the lasting impact of Ratana’s spiritual, social and political vision.


Based on more than 20 years of research and interviews, this revised edition of the original 2009 publication is updated to take in the events of the 2010s and early 2020s. It includes previously undisclosed material, much of it translated into English for the first time.

For more information and commentary, check out these reports on the book from Te Ao Māori News and E-Tangata

The author

Keith Newman is a writer with 50 years’ experience across mainstream, trade, business and music media. He began his research into the life of T.W. Ratana in 1986, leading two decades later to his books Ratana Revisited (2006) and the original Ratana the Prophet (2009). Keith has two children and six grandchildren, lives with his wife Paula in Haumoana, Hawke’s Bay.

Publication: 7 May 2024  |  ISBN: 978-1-99-004258-4 | RRP $45.00

Paperback, 230 x 153 mm portrait, 284 pages, colour and b&w

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Oratia Books Catalogue 2024 out now

The Oratia Books Catalogue 2024 is out now in print and digital form.

This year we're delighted to profile 16 books alongside a growing backlist, as the introduction below outlines.

Thanks once more to Cheryl Smith for the catalogue design, and Simon and team at Haysom Print for the print job. 

Click here to view or download the PDF, or to request a print copy please email

Welcome to this catalogue for Oratia Books’ new titles for 2024 and our growing backlist of published works. 

Here are authors, illustrators and stories that resonate wherever you read. To take a sample: Richard Wolfe traces the culture of ‘kiwi’ and ‘Kiwi’, Melanie Drewery and Suzanne Simpson share Nanny Mihi’s gardening wisdom, while Jeff Szusterman and Ant Sang serve up a graphic novel with a message. 

Diverse views speak from our first release — the ebullient Rere Atu Taku Poi! Let My Poi Fly! — through to the landmark Ngāi Tahu history of the West Coast, Poutini (an image from that book features on the cover). 

From our base in Oratia we continue to explore internationally. Two additions to the bestselling New Bum! series are publishing globally as well as Down Under, while the Moana Oceania series brings content in Fijian and Samoan as well as English. 

Bilingual te reo Māori and English is the standard for many books, including the new language resource Ngā Hapa Reo

Thanks for reading on.

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Bologna Children's Book Fair 2024 expands international reach for Oratia authors and illustrators

What an outstanding four days it has been at the Bologna Children's Book Fair 2024. 

Oratia Books again joined colleagues from around Aotearoa on the New Zealand collective stand in Hall 25 of this major meeting ground for children's books — alongside over 1500 other exhibitors from around the world.

Bologna, the bustling capital of Italy's prosperous Emilia-Romagna region, turned on great weather for all but one day, accompanied by its superlative food and wine for business dinners late into the evenings.

The Bologna fairgrounds were packed, especially on Tuesday 9th, and the Aotearoa NZ stand led by PANZ member services manager Katherine Shanks was a busy scene of enquiries and encounters. 

The Aotearoa New Zealand stand, ably managed by PANZ's Katherine Shanks (at work at bottom right)

Stand set-up and social meetings occupied the weekend, with the fair proper running from Monday to Thursday.

Our experience confirmed the Bologna Children's Book Fair (BCBF) analysis, that the fair and the children's book trade are back to levels not seen since the Covid-19 pandemic. 

There were 31,735 professional visitors across the four days, an increase of 10% on last year (this video gives a snapshot of the busy, global traffic on the opening morning).

For Oratia Books I completed about 40 meetings during the fair days (helped by organisational whizz Juliet Dreaver), with most of our major partners, agents and suppliers covered plus some exciting new discoveries. 

It was also a thrill to walk the halls with Maria Leonardi, the Rome-based publishing expert who is now helping Oratia with its international rights activity. 

With Maria Leonardi – a great publishing friend and, like me, a dual Italian and New Zealand citizen

Slovenia was this year's guest of honour, showcasing on its children's authors and also (following the fair's traditional focus on illustration) with a major exhibition of art in the main lobby. 

There is no substitute for meeting face-to-face to make and renew business relationships, and no better way to present books (a 3D, tactile product in which content is but one factor) than around a table. 

It's gratifying to see how with fair attendance each year, our authors, illustrators and creative team gain more recognition internationally, and sales potential expands.

Clockwise from top left: celebrating the success of Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird’s New Bum series with our US partners, Patty Sullivan (left) and Betina Cochran of Dover Publications; with querido amigo and our Latin American agent Pablo de la Vega; catching up with Latvian illustrator Elīna Braslina and US-Spanish author and translator Lawrence Schimel, creators of our board books Bedtime, Not Playme and Early One Morning; and meeting one of the courageous Ukrainian contingent, Olha Pisotska (centre) of Ranok Publishing, alongside New Zealand’s Juliet Dreaver. 

Now to the weeks of following up with exchange of materials and ideas, and the months of exchanges and negotiations that will be approaching conclusion by the time of the next big event on the publishing fair calendar, the Frankfurt Book Fair in October. 

Arrivederci Bologna, until next year

— Peter Dowling, Publisher

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

A monumental history of New Zealand's mounted and armoured forces comes to fruition

Those Who Have the Courage

The History of the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps and predecessor forces

Matthew Wright

Across more than 160 years, the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps and its predecessor forces have served and reflected our evolving nation. 


This richly illustrated work, painstakingly compiled by historian Matthew Wright, captures the drama of this key part of our armed forces. 

The book goes on sale on 3 April at good booksellers nationwide.


Opening with New Zealand’s turbulent colonial era and its volunteer cavalry, the book progresses through to the Boer War, the professionalisation of the services on the eve of the First World War, and the mounted experience in Gallipoli and Palestine. 

Wright goes on to examine the way New Zealand developed its use of armour during the Second World War, and the battles fought by the new armoured forces in North Africa, Italy and the Pacific. 


That leads to an examination of the people and fortunes of the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps itself from 1947, in what has been a roller-coaster ride through the shifting sands of politics and economic constraint, including operations in Bosnia, East Timor and Afghanistan. 


Plentiful photographs and detailed maps distinguish this handsome hardback, along with extended appendices.

As Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro writes in the foreword: ‘Those Who Have the Courage will be a valuable resource for anyone who is interested in the military and social history of New Zealand’.

The author

Matthew Wright is the prolific author of over 60 books on a wide range of topics for all ages, principally on New Zealand history. A respected historian, he is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. His other works with Oratia are Freyberg, The New Zealand Wars and The New Zealand Experience at Gallipoli and the Western Front. Matthew lives in Wellington (see

Publication: 3 April 2024  |  ISBN: 978-1-99-004255-3 | RRP $95.00

Jacketed hardback, 280 x 200 mm portrait, 648 pages, colour and b&w


Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Publishing east and west meet at Istanbul Publishing Fellowship 2024

Publishers from 66 countries congregated last week for the 9th Istanbul Publishing Fellowship, one of the premier networking and rights opportunities in the international book world. 

I was privileged to be among the 258 foreign publishers and agents invited (and could lay claim to having travelled the furthest to get to Istanbul, the closest competitors having come from Brazil and Indonesia ...). 

Oratia's rights table at the Rami Library

Joining the visitors were 125 Turkish publishers and agents, affording a unique opportunity to talk books and rights in what is a buoyant market of 80 million people, and to network with many Middle Eastern, Central Asian and European colleagues

At the entrance to the spectacular Rami Library complex 

Held from 5 to 7 March in the historic Rami Library in Istanbul's Bayrampaşa district, the fellowship focused on one-to-one business meetings, alongside speaker sessions, a gala dinner and informal exchanges. 

Following disruptions over recent years due to Covid-19 and the tragic earthquakes of 2023, this year's event marked a welcome return to business as usual. 

With Turkish publisher Selahattin Arslan

Mexico featured as the focus country this year, and it was a pleasure to catch up with Mexican colleagues including former IPA president Hugo Setzer and Editorial Planeta rights coordinator for Latin America, Carol Reyes.

I learned a great deal from meetings with publishers from countries as diverse as Azerbaijan, Egypt, Greece, Japan and Slovenia, and meetings with Turkish publishers confirmed their country's reputation for being welcoming and open to new ideas.

Now to the pile of reading and follow-up that always ensues from such fertile exchanges.

At the Gala Dinner with publishing friends from Türkiye, Greece and Slovenia

I would hope that more publishers from Oceania can make the trip to Istanbul in future years, because the interest in our books is certainly keen — many of those I met are looking to bring new voices to their publishing lists, and have great curiosity about our corner of the globe. 

Fellows gathered on the event's last day

As a case in point, being in Istanbul happily coincided with publication by major publishing house Pegasus Yayınları of four books from our bestselling New Bum! Series by Dawn McMillan and Ross Kinnaird. 

It was a delight to receive samples of these Turkish editions and celebrate with Nazlı Gurkas of Black Cat Agency, who brokered this rights deal. 

My sincere thanks to the Istanbul Publishing Fellowship team for this valuable experience. 

The Turkish Press and Publishers Copyright and Licensing Society organised the event, with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

İstanbul'da tekrar görüşmek üzere!

- Peter Dowling, in Istanbul
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