Saturday, August 27, 2011

To the Gateways of Florence book launch at Te Papa, Wellington 26 August 2011

From left: Donato Scioscioli, First Secretary of the Italian Embassy in Wellington, the book's editor Stefano Fusi, Florence Provincial Councillor, and Sestilio Dirindelli, Mayor of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa

Military historian Chris Pugsley (left) with Italian Campaign veteran George Jones

George Jones and family with Sestilio and Stefano

At the signing table, from left Donato Scioscioli, Stefano Fusi and Peter Dowling

Members of Jill Gabriel's Wellington family join Jill, Stefano, Sestilio, Gianna and guests

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

To the Gateways of Florence New Zealand Forces in Tuscany, 1944

M E D I A    R E L E A S E

24 August 2011

To the Gateways of Florence
New Zealand Forces in Tuscany, 1944

Edited by Stefano Fusi

For 50 years after the end of the Second World War, most people in the Chianti region between Florence and Siena did not know that New Zealand forces had been the ones to liberate them from Nazi German occupation in the summer of 1944.

It took research by Stefano Fusi, then mayor of Tavarnelle (near Florence), and his New Zealand wife Jill Gabriel, to affirm that the liberators had been not Americans but soldiers of the 2nd New Zealand Division, many of whom never made it home.

Now those sacrifices, and the bonds they forged between New Zealand and Italy, are being celebrated in a new book – To the Gateways of Florence: New Zealand Forces in Tuscany 1944.

Launched at functions in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland over the next fortnight, To the Gateways of Florence remembers the men of the 28th Maori Battalion and 21st Infantry Divisions who showed immense tenacity in battle, and compassion to the Italian people that is warmly remembered to this day.

A delegation composed of Stefano Fusi  (now a Florence Provincial councillor), Jill Gabriel, Sestilio Dirindelli (current mayor of Tavarnelle) and his wife Gianna has come to New Zealand in order to launch the book.

“Sharing our history has helped forge a deep friendship with the New Zealand people who live so far away from Tuscany and from the Chianti area, but to whom, for obvious reasons, we feel so close,” says Fusi.

“Our friendship has strengthened over time and has also been sealed by the decision made by the municipalities of Tavarnelle Val di Pesa and Scandicci to erect two monuments to the fallen New Zealanders.”

Translated from a 2009 Italian book, To the Gateways of Florence enables New Zealanders to read Italian historians analysing New Zealand’s pivotal role in Tuscany, alongside contributions from three of our own leading military historians – Christopher Pugsley, Monty Soutar and Jeffrey Plowman

The testimonies, diaries and letters of the New Zealand soldiers are matched by moving testimonies from the Italian civilians who lived through the battles that decided the war.

One contributor, Franca Ferrantini, recalls singing for New Zealand soldiers at Florence’s Hotel Baglioni: I send dear thoughts to all those boys from way back then on the other side of the world.”

Publishers Peter Dowling and Alessandra Zecchini committed to translating the work after attending commemorations in the Chianti region on Anzac Day (also Italy’s Liberation Day) in 2010.

“We were overwhelmed by the warm welcome and the efforts that had gone to honouring the New Zealand soldiers,” Dowling recalls.

Zecchini, whose late father fought for the partisans in the mountains to the north of Tuscany, says that the book embodies the close bonds that sprang up between Italians and Kiwis in the course of the Second World War.

A rich selection of photographs and memorabilia from archives in New Zealand and Italy illustrates the work.

To the Gateways of Florence will be launched at the following events:
·      Wellington, 26 August: Te Papa Store
·      Christchurch, 1 September: University Bookshop Canterbury,
·      Auckland, 8 September: Council Chamber, Auckland Town Hall

Release Date:  26 August 2011  | ISBN: 978-1-877514-23-4   | RRP $44.99
276 pages (20 colour), 12 contributors, 200 images

Stefano Fusi is in New Zealand until 10 September.
For an interview, images, launch details or a review copy, contact:
Isabell Zitzelsberger 09 814 8993
Peter Dowling  027 614 8993
Libro International, a division of Oratia Media   |

Monday, August 22, 2011

Polynesian Navigation and the Discovery of New Zealand

M E D I A    R E L E A S E

22 August 2011

Polynesian Navigation and
the Discovery of New Zealand

Jeff Evans

The discovery of New Zealand by Polynesian navigators represents the culmination of one of the great waves of world exploration.

Without the modern navigational aids that Europeans used to reach New Zealand centuries later, the navigator Kupe and the many canoes that followed were able to find their way through perilous seas in wooden canoes.

By examining myth, star charts and contemporary Polynesian seafaring, author and photographer Jeff Evans traces the methods by which Polynesian explorers made their epic voyages, supported by maps and illustrations.

Polynesian Navigation and the Discovery of New Zealand also relates the voyage of the canoe Hawaiki-nui – built following traditional methods and navigated without modern instruments – from Tahiti to New Zealand in 1985.

First published in 1998 as The Discovery of Aotearoa, the retitled and corrected book will now be permanently available thanks to digital printing technology.

Release Date:  22 August 2011  | ISBN: 978-1-877514-15-9   | RRP $39.99

For an interview, contact: Jeff Evans, 027 216 1400
For more information or a review copy, contact:
Peter Dowling  027 614 8993 or Isabell Zitzelsberger 09 814 8993
Libro International, a division of Oratia Media   |

Monday, August 1, 2011

Māori Maps


1 August / 1 Heri-turi-kōkā 2011                                                                        7.00 a.m.

For immediate release

New website connects people and marae

Te Potiki National Trust this morning officially launched the Māori Maps website, 

The site dynamically delivers maps, photographs and information about the tribal marae of Te Tai Tokerau/Northland and Tāmaki/Auckland.

It provides a portal to over 170 marae through the North. is the first stage of a long-term project to revitalise links between marae, descendants and visitors.

Navigating via an interactive map or quick searches, users can easily locate a marae, get directions, see photos from the gateway and access key information.

The site launch represents five years’ work to establish the venture, attract support and research around the North.

Paul Tapsell and Rereata Makiha founded Te Potiki National Trust in 2006 with the aim of reconnecting young urban Māori – the ‘potiki’ generation – to their home communities and elders.

Marae are the beneficiaries of work by the Māori Maps team.

Tapsell, now professor of Māori Studies at the University of Otago, led the research across the North, accompanied by photographer Krzysztof Pfeiffer, kaumātua Renata Tane, and Rereata Makiha.

“Our marae are places where issues have been resolved for generations. They are central to our identity, which is grounded in ancestral landscapes.

“In recent times our potiki – the young generation – have been growing up away from marae, and as our elders die, our rich traditions, dialects and practices are dying with them.

“The Māori Maps team hopes to be the beginning of a solution, providing a pathway to marae that will benefit all New Zealand.

“It seeks to create a sustainable response to a real crisis: reconnection of new generations of Māori to their tribal identity, and sustaining our marae.”

The site fills a need for a portal that allows easy connection to marae at no cost to iwi, hapū or whānau, and will allow them access to store images and records online.

“We are committed to ongoing contact with runanga (tribal boards) and marae to keep the content and website features up to date,” Tapsell said.

Māori Maps has been funded by the Tindall Foundation, FoRST and the ASB Community Trust, with support from the universities of Auckland (James Henare Māori Research Centre, and Business School via Icehouse/SPARK and Otago (Te Tumu School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies), and Chapman Tripp. 

The Māori Maps team is planning its next field research in Bay of Plenty, Otago, Southland and Waikato.

Further features are under development for the site, not least a Te Reo Māori version, iPad and iPhone compatibility, and a layer of mapping of all marae in each runanga and iwi grouping.

– ENDS –  

For an interview, contact:
 Paul Tapsell, Director, 021 279 8677,
For Te Reo interviews, contact:
Rereata Makiha, 021 190 1379, 
For further information, contact:
Peter Dowling, Kaihautu, 027 614 8993,
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