Monday, December 27, 2010

Place Names of New Zealand on air

Radio New Zealand National starts tomorrow broadcasting sessions with Peter discussing interesting place names. Listen out for the sessions on Summer Report, at around 7.50 am every Tuesday and Thursday from 28 December through to 20 January. Drawing from his work as revising editor of A.W. Reed's Place Names of New Zealand, Peter talks with Simon Morton and Rowan Quinn about current naming controversy, women namers, names brought from Hawaiki and more.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Seasons' Greetings

Meri Kirihimete me ngā mihi o te tau hou ki a koutou katoa

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all

from Oratia Media
Publisher of
Libro International

Manuia le Kerisimasi, ma le Tausaga Fou


Fröhliche Weihnachten
und ein gutes neues Jahr

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The School Library

The Castle in our Backyard was recently reviewed by the New Zealand Book Council, Te Kaunihera Pukapuka o Aotearoa, in the Inspiring Picture Books' section of The School Library

Click here to read the review.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Paola Della Valle talks about writing From Silence to Voice

Why do I write on Maori literature?

I first became interested in New Zealand literature in the mid-1980s. I came in contact with some of Frank Sargeson’s stories during the Commonwealth Literature course I attended at the University of Torino, as part of the requirements for my bachelor’s degree in English literature, and I decided to write my bachelor’s thesis on him in 1986. When I went back to university in 2004 for my PhD I wanted to explore New Zealand culture and literature further.

I was soon attracted by the writing of Maori authors, in particular Patricia Grace and Witi Ihimaera, which seemed to be the big thing that had occurred in the previous 20 years in the New Zealand literary arena. I liked their spiritual approach to reality and their sense of humour, and I perceived the novelty of their English, which sounds extremely poetic to a foreign ear. I also recognised several affinities between Maori and Italian culture, which made me feel ‘at home’ when I read their stories. First of all, Maori have a notion of family that is similar to ours. Close bonds within extended families are still the basis of our society, which functions on alliances and personal contacts rather than on relying on an abstract sense of the state (this is the reason why Italians tend to apply the law in a ‘flexible’ way, creating many particular codes). Moreover, the affective and even sensual value that Maori give to food is something that characterises Italian culture too, as is their vocal way of expressing emotions, their love of singing, their openness and flexibility, and their search for communality even to the detriment of privacy.

I was not surprised when I read Grace’s novel Tu and found out that the soldiers of the Maori Battalion got along pretty well with local people during the Italian Campaign in World War II. And I think that Ihimaera’s use of Italian melodrama in The Matriarch evokes a physicality of emotions that Maori and Italians share and appreciate.

This fascination has driven me to write From Silence to Voice.

From Silence to Voice is already in its second print run in New Zealand through our distributors Publishers Distribution Limited (09 828 2999 or or from Lightning Source ( in the UK.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wi Pere Book Launch; Rongopai Marae, Patutahi, Gisborne Friday 19 November 2010;

A great occasion in Gisborne on Friday 19 November, with the launch Libro International's newest book, Wiremu Pere: The Life and Times of a Maori Leader, 18371915. It was an honour to be there with the descendants of Wi Pere to celebrate their tupuna at the beautiful Rongopai marae.

Among the distinguished guests and speakers present was the Hon Tariana Turia, co-leader of the Maori Party, who opened her speech describing Wi Pere as “a remarkable man, a man of mana, a man well before his time.”

You can read her full speech by clicking here.

A most memorable oration was given by Rose Pere, speaking for herself and her husband, the author Joe Pere. Among other speakers were Lewis Moeau, Maori Advisor to the Prime Minister, Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon, Wi Pere Trust Chairman Alan Haronga, and Wi Pere Trustee Kingi Smiler.

Rose Pere signing a copy of the book for Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon.

At the reception for the book Wiremu Pere

From the Gisborne Herald Saturday 20 November

Wiremu Pere: The Life and Times of a Maori Leader, 18371915

RRP $90.00

Jacketed hardback, 240 x 180 mm, 440 pp, includes foldout deed and maps

Available from good bookstores, or from Publishers Distribution Limited,
tel: 09 828 2999 fax: 09 828 2399 email:
ISBN 978-1-877514-09-8

Gisborne Herald 16 November: to read the article click here
Beattie's Book Blog, click here
We Pere Trust, click here

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wiremu Pere The Life and Times of a Maori Leader, 1837–1915

Libro International is proud to publish Wiremu Pere: The Life and Times of a Maori Leader, 18371915, the first biography of the seminal politician Wi Pere - a man caught between two worlds, struggling to preserve the Maori way of life and advance his tribes on the North Island's East Coast as colonisation gained pace.

Link to Wi Pere trust:

Wiremu Pere

The Life and Times of a Maori Leader,


by Joseph Anaru Te Kani Pere & others

A rangatira in times of change …

Wi Pere lived through some of the most turbulent chapters in New Zealand history. As a leader of his Rongowhakaata and Te Aitanga a Mahaki tribes, he stood resolute during the tidal wave of change that threatened the Maori way of life, and went on in 1884 to become one of the first Maori leaders in Parliament.

This handsomely produced book describes Wi Pere’s eventful life and those who influenced him. Other parts trace his whakapapa back to ancient rangatira lines, and profile the Wi Pere Trust, one of his legacies that continues to prosper and grow today.

Wiremu Pere will appeal to all those who are students of Maori and political history as well as readers interested in the colourful life of this extraordinary leader.

The Author:

Joseph Anaru Te Kani Pere, a great-grandson of Wi Pere, took over the writing of the book from earlier family members. A former teacher, he has a doctorate in English from the University of Waikato. After extensive research and writing, he has brought the work to completion with the support of the Wi Pere Trust.

Release Date: 19 November 2010 | RRP $90.00

Jacketed hardback, 240 x 180 mm, 440 pp, includes foldout deed and maps

For a review copy, please contact:

Peter Dowling, 027 614 8993, 09 814 8993,

Libro International | ISBN: 978-1-877514-09-8

Publishers Association of New Zealand Featured Member: Peter Dowling Oratia Media

Featured Member: Peter Dowling Oratia MediaAddressing industry peers from around the world was a highlight of the 2010 Frankfurt Book Fair for independent publisher Oratia Media. The Waitakere-based company’s Managing Director Peter Dowling took the stage in an Australasian panel discussion that helped profile New Zealand books to the global flock at this year’s essential book event. But there were other milestones, including breaking through to get invited to the Italian Publishers Association cocktail. “We’ve been working all year to get on the radar of Italian publishers so the networking at Frankfurt was unbelievably valuable – even if the New Zealand stand put on a much better party!” Connecting New Zealand with the world is a key part of the vision for Libro International, the books imprint launched in 2009.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Outrageous Fortune - And So It Concludes

Tonight sees the culmination of six series of Outrageous Fortune - in an episode entitled Tis So Concluded.

Over the past six years the West family and their associates have become part of the fabric of daily life for New Zealanders, and we'll miss them being on TV. Just as well there are DVDs and our book, Outrageous Fortune: The West Family Album.

Limited stocks of the book are still available. Be in to get yours now from booksellers or via the official website

Friday, November 5, 2010

From Silence to Voice

Libro International is proud to publish From Silence to Voice: The Rise of Maori Literature, by Paola Della Valle.

Paola Della Valle provides an accessible account of how writers like Patricia Grace and Witi Ihimaera established a Maori voice in literature, with a close analysis of many of the key texts in modern Maori writing.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Frankfurt Book Fair 2010

Peter in the Oratia Media corner of the New Zealand collective stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The fair concluded on 10 October and was a really valuable event - we're certainly hoping to be there again in 2011.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Think Australia (and New Zealand)

Click here to read the article about
the Australian and New Zealand publishing market
discussed by a specialist panel
at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2010,
and reported by
Publishing Perspectives.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Flying the Flag at Frankfurt – 7 October 2010

There’s a subdued buzz in the air at Hall 8 as I write this – subdued because it’s lunchtime and those who aren’t eating are catching breath. The fair kicked off yesterday morning and for Oratia Media and our colleagues on the New Zealand collective stand it was a busy start to the five-day event, which is the world’s largest marketplace for books, media, rights and licences.

Entering the Frankfurt Book Fair

This year marks our first appearance at the fair, exhibiting our books and talking to other publishers about distribution, rights and services internationally. This year we’re pushing the authors already published in our Libro International list, along with a number of new concepts for books that we’re pitching to likely partners. Also on our stand are titles from our Rock Your Life list, and our friends at Huia Publishers and Willson Scott Publishers.

Our corner of the New Zealand stand

Today it was my turn to take the microphone, as I joined Australian colleagues Patricia Genat of ALS, Rod Martin of Era Publications, and mediator Tim Coronel of Bookseller and Publisher magazine at a well-patronised seminar: ‘Australia/New Zealand Publishing Market Overview’. Common preoccupations with slow local markets, changing export destinations and digitisation united out two markets, which also remain distinguished by the difficulty of distributing across the Tasman.

Notice for today’s seminar session

A busy schedule of meetings continues over the next three days. Tomorrow night the New Zealand stand will host drinks, at which Creative New Zealand and the Publishers Association of NZ will launch its programme of support for translation of New Zealand writing

Better go – there’s a bunch of people browsing the stand.

Peter Dowling

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Graeme Hunt: Farewell to a fine author

We are very sad to share the news that Graeme Hunt, an outstanding author with whom we had a close working relationship, died suddenly at his home in Auckland on Wednesday. Graeme, who had just turned 58, had recently undergone minor heart surgery but had subsequently been feeling healthy and positive.

Graeme was an outstanding historian and journalist, a writer with rare insight into business, a publisher in his own right, a tireless supporter of New Zealand books, a generous soul and a friend to many.

He published his first books under his own imprint, Waddington Press, before I commissioned his best-selling The Rich List: Wealth and Enterprise in New Zealand, published by Reed in 2000. Subsequently he published four other works with us at Reed and one with Penguin.

Last year Waddington and Oratia Media jointly published First to Care, the 125-year history of St John in New Zealand, which received excellent reviews and has sold strongly. At the time of his death we were working on first proofs of a major agricultural history he edited, and planning further projects. He was prolific and meticulous as a writer, producing 15 books in all, while being active as a reviewer and mentor to other writers.

Graeme was always politically engaged, and was standing as an independent in the October local body elections in the Albany ward. But he never let his own views cloud his respect for healthy, democratic debate.

Our sympathies go to his wife Saluma, his first wife Jennifer, his children Robert and Ellen, and his family members.

I will be promoting Graeme’s work at the Frankfurt Book Fair in ten days’ time, and Libro International will follow up on the commitment I’d earlier made to Graeme to keep as much as possible of his work in print.

Peter Dowling

Friday, September 10, 2010

Frankfurt Book Fair 2010

Creative New Zealand has posted our profile as one of the four publishers it is supporting to exhibit at the Frankfurt Book Fair next month.

Follow this link for more information.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Te Ara: Māori Pathways of Leadership

Coming this month is our newest publication Te Ara: Māori Pathways of Leadership, a full-colour paperback that documents the trajectory of Māori leadership from first settlement of Aotearoa/New Zealand through to the challenges and opportunities of the present day.

This 32-page book is concisely written by Paul Tapsell, professor of Māori studies at the University of Otago, with Dr Merata Kawharu, director of the James Henare Māori Research Centre of the University of Auckland, and features beautiful photos by Krzysztof Pfeiffer, photographer at the Auckland War Memorial Museum and author of over 20 books.

After a general introduction to Māori history, Te Ara focuses on the stories of iwi in five regions – Hokianga, Peowhairangi (Bay of Islands) Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), Waiariki (Rotorua-Taupo) and Murihiku (Otago-Southland).

Te Ara accompanies an exhibition that will open in Olsztyn, Poland, on 22 September, before touring in Poland and then elsewhere to Europe. The present edition contains text in three languages – Māori, English and Polish – definitely a first!

Te Ara: Māori Pathways of Leadership - ISBN 978-1-877514-12-8 - retails at $19.99

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Launching The Castle in our Backyard

On the evening of 29 July an enthusiastic crowd gathered at the Cornwall Park Restaurant on One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie to launch the first 2010 title from Libro International - The Castle in our Backyard and its Maori edition, Te Pa Kaha kei to tatou Iari.

Guests were welcomed on behalf of Ngati Whatua o Orakei, the mana whenua of the mount, by Takutai Wikiriwhi, and addressed by Michael Horton, chairman of the Cornwall Park Trust Board.

Author Malcolm Paterson spoke of the vision of connecting New Zealand children with the history that surrounds them, which inspired him and his fellow members of the Sharing Our Stories group to devise this, the first in a planned series of books about historic landmarks.

The Castle in our Backyard and Te Pa Kaha kei to tatou Iari are on sale at good bookstores in New Zealand or can be ordered through our website

Author Malcolm Paterson and illustrator Leah Mulgrew signing books for Sharing Our Stories member Mark Spencer; Patricia Greig of Oratia Media is in the background

Representatives of Ngati Whatua o Orakei, major supporters of The Castle in our Backyard
(Below) Malcolm Paterson launching the book

Carolyn Judd of Sharing Our Stories, with Malcolm Paterson and
Peter Dowling

Thursday, July 29, 2010



Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill, AUCKLAND 29 July 2010

Awakening young readers to the wonders that surround them is the kaupapa (mission) of Sharing Our Stories, a group of committed young leaders who today release their first book in English and Te Reo editions.

The Castle in our Backyard (in English) and Te Pā Kaha kei tō tatōu Iāri (in Māori) is the first book by group member Malcolm Paterson, and is illustrated by young Karekare artist Leah Mulgrew.

Released to mark Māori Language Week/Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, the book invites young readers to enter the history of Auckland’s One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie alongside two modern-day characters.

Tui and his cousin Jennifer are too busy playing a video game to want to visit Maungakiekie – until their Nanny Marei tells them the mountain’s got giants and fortresses, just like their game.

Sharing Our Stories grew as a team project under a leadership programme of the Committee for Auckland.

“We hope that by becoming more aware of our rich history, New Zealanders will enhance their pride in our unique heritage,” said Malcolm Paterson.

The books, from Waitakere City publisher Libro International, are available at good bookstores and online.

On sale from 29 July, the books will be launched at One Tree Hill/Maungakiekie that evening.

Review copies are available NOW

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Place Names of New Zealand on Radio Live

Peter's new revised edition of Place Names of New Zealand
is out this month from Penguin Books.
Peter spoke with Radio Live host Graeme Hill
about the book and how the meanings of place names
on the New Zealand landscape; click here to listen.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Place Names of New Zealand - out now

Place Names of New Zealand

A.W. Reed; revised by Peter Dowling

Published by Raupo, an imprint of Penguin Books (

ISBN 8-978-0-14-320410-7 512 pages Paperback NZ$50

It’s been a privilege to edit, update and expand A.W. Reed’s Place Names of New Zealand. The new edition is just out through Raupo, the imprint that carries on what was once Reed Books.

How we call places matters deeply. The debate over whether to include an ‘h’ in the official spelling of ‘Wanganui’, which raged as I was revising this work between 2008 and 2010, was merely the latest example of what store people set by place names. Times don’t appear to have changed this sentiment. In 1844, residents protested vehemently against the giving of the name Petre to the town that was renamed Wanganui as a result.

A.W. Reed, who died in 1979, was an outstanding publisher who had a feel for what matters in popular culture, and he recognised the need to start recording origin and meaning of place names before the knowledge was lost. His Place Names of New Zealand, published in 1975, became the standard guide to this popular field, and he published a substantial Supplement to Place Names of New Zealand shortly before his death.

The 2010 Place Names of New Zealand maintains most of Reed’s research, but in a slimmed down, ready-reference structure. Onto that foundation I’ve built on as much new information as could be reliably sourced within the available time – adding definitions for some 1500 new names, new details for existing entries, and latest versions of official names. All up the new edition has origin and meanings for over 10,000 place names.

What excites me about place names is how directly they mediate between us and our land, our past and our language, keeping alive experiences and people long vanished from our memories. There are names that mark lovers, murderers, cannibal feasts, failures, puns and friendships; names that tie places to nature alongside those that honour eminences who never had anything to do with the place; names that have been misspelled but where any change is deeply opposed.

Arthur’s Pass, for example, retains its apostrophe only because residents protested violently at government efforts to remove it (Hawke’s Bay is the only other New Zealand place name officially to retain the apostrophe). It could have been worse for residents of the Pass – in Southland the Ruhtra Creek was meant to honour a surveyor by the name of Arthur, but ended up being recorded backwards!

I hope that readers can gain as much from Place Names of New Zealand as it gave me in putting it together.

Peter Dowling -

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Frankfurt Book Fair 2010 – We’ll Be There

We’ve had some great news – Creative New Zealand has awarded us one of four grants to assist with exhibition and travel costs for the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Frankfurt is to books what Cannes is to film, the one indispensable site for the industry to meet each year.

Taking place from 6 –10 October, the fair is billed as ‘the most important marketplace for books, media, rights and licences worldwide’ – attended by over 7,300 exhibitors from 100 countries, around 300,000 visitors and over 10,000 journalists.

Applicants for the funding were assessed by a panel from Creative New Zealand, the New Zealand Book Council and the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ).

Alongside Oratia Media/Libro International, Auckland University Press, Calico Publishing and Gecko Press received grants, and we'll all be sharing space on the New Zealand stand at the show.

Being at Frankfurt is crucial to advancing Libro’s international profile, building on our presence at the Turin Book Fair in May.

Along with backlist titles, we will be showing new publications like Joe Te Kani Pere’s Wiremu Pere and Paola Della Valle’s From Silence to Voice: The Maori in New Zealand Literature, while promoting co-editions including the landmark volume Marae from Paul Tapsell and Maori Maps.

A big thank you to Creative New Zealand and PANZ for their support as we take New Zealand books to the world.

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