Saturday, October 31, 2020

Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna wins te Reo category at NZSA Heritage Book Awards

Ngā mihi nunui ki a te kaituhi Darryn Joseph rāua ko te kaiwhakaahua Munro Te Whata, kua toa kōrua i ngā NZSA Heritage Book Awards mo te pukapuka tamariki pai ake i te Reo, i panuihia i te pō o Rāpare kei Ōtautahi.

Hearty congratulations to author Darryn Joseph and illustrator Munro Te Whata, whose book Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna/Listen to your Ancestors won the best children's book in Te Reo at the NZSA Heritage Book Awards, announced on Thursday at a ceremony in Christchurch. 

Darryn, who is a lecturer in Māori at Massey University, Palmerston North, wrote this moving story in te Reo and then translated it into English, and Auckland-based illustrator and animator Munro brought it to life in images. 

We salute Darryn and Munro for their achievement, and also acknowledge the fine work of editorial director Carolyn Lagahetau and designer Cheryl Smith in creating a book that has touched many readers young and old. 

The story follows a beloved teacher giving her pupils and grand-daughter guidance by directing them to follow the examples of Māori gods and ancestors.

Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna teaches the values represented by Māori gods and ancestors, and provides a much-needed tool for reading in te Reo. But at its heart this is a story of love and respect, harking back to the friendship that inspired its writing. 

Darryn Joseph
Munro Te Whata (left) with the book's editor, Carolyn Lagahetau

Publication: 10 September 2019  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-62-9 |  RRP $25.99
Paperback, 270 x 21o mm, 32 pages colour

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Exhibition of Italian children's book illustrators open in Auckland

The Illustrators for Gianni Rodari exhibition is now on in Auckland. 

From today until Sunday 25 September, drop in between 10.00 a.m. and 4 p.m.

The Oratia Books team joined a preview event last night, along with guests from the local Italian and publishing communities.

The Oratia crew with Lindsey Jones (third from right), Honorary Consul for Italy, Auckland. From left: Belinda Cooke (sales & marketing consultant), Frances Chan (editor), Peter Dowling (publisher), Alessandra Zecchini (media director), Lindsey Jones, Carolyn Lagahetau (editorial director), Ross Kinnaird (illustrator)

Brought together to mark the centenary of the birth of the great Italian children's writer Gianni Rodari, the exhibition showcases illustrations from 21 leading artists who have illustrated his books.

Professor Bruno Ferraro (left) will join a presentation about Rodari on Sunday 18 October

A selection of the Rodari books on display from Edizione E/L, Italy

Congratulations to exhibition curator Nicoletta Benella, and all who have made the exhibition possible.

Tomorrow morning (18 October) at 9.30 a.m., Nicoletta will join Professor Bruno Ferraro in a discussion about Rodari's life and work, and the artists who have accompanied him.

Our thanks to NEWMARKET and the Dante Alighieri Society of Auckland for hosting the preview, including some tasty piadine and San Pellegrino soft drinks.

For more about this unique exhibition, click on
this link. Ci vediamo lì!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

New book ensures the Musket Wars will not be forgotten

The Forgotten Wars: Why the Musket Wars matter today

Ron Crosby

Distinguished author outlines why this crucial phase of New Zealand history matters and should be taught today


Ron Crosby couldn’t believe his eyes when the Ministry of Education released its draft curriculum for compulsory teaching of New Zealand history. 


Subjects to be covered included initial contacts between Māori and Europeans, and early colonial history — but not the Musket Wars. 

In The Forgotten Wars, Crosby sets out to ensure that readers will be able to appreciate just how much of an omission that was.


For, as he describes in the book, these conflicts between 1806 and 1845 were the longest period of continuous warfare in Aotearoa, and laid the basis of relationships between iwi and hapū ever since — not to mention featuring endless cycles of utu and feats of bravery, including the campaigns of Hongi Hika and Te Rauparaha.

Muskets, potatoes and other introductions fundamentally altered the balance of power in 19th-century Aotearoa, leading to inter-iwi conflicts that claimed tens of thousands of lives (killing, wounding or displacing up to half of the Māori population).


Drawing on his seminal The Musket Wars, this concise work breaks the wars down by region and tribe, with stunningly detailed maps and illustrations that will help to ensure these epochal conflicts are no longer forgotten.


The author

Ron Crosby with his wife Margy

Ron Crosby burst onto the New Zealand book scene in 1999 with The Musket Wars (still in print through Oratia Books), and has followed that with a range of other titles including NZSAS: The First Fifty Years. Formerly a barrister specialising in resource management and iwi claims, Ron was appointed to the Waitangi Tribunal in 2011. He lives in Blenheim with his wife Margy (Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri). A keen tramper and hunter, Ron and family  have walked and visited many of the sites and trails featured in this new book.

Publication: 14 October 2020  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-79-7  | RRP $39.99

Paperback, 240 x 160 mm portrait, 208 pages, b&w with 16-pp colour


Monday, October 5, 2020

New biography sheds light on the private side of the legendary Bernard Freyberg

Freyberg: A Life’s Journey

Matthew Wright

Biography out tomorrow (6 October) focuses on Bernard Freyberg the man to reveal 
the reality behind a towering 20th-century hero

The name Freyberg appears all across New Zealand, in streets, parks, schools, buildings, public spaces, pools and more. 

For much of the 20th century Bernard Freyberg was a household name: a swimming champion, an action-hero, military commander and Governor-General —a physically imposing figure known to most Kiwis as ‘Tiny’, following his childhood nickname. 


Freyberg receiving support as he attempts to swim the English Channel

Now in this new, concise biography, prolific author Matthew Wright reveals the complex man behind the myth for 21st-century readers less familiar with Freyberg — tracking his personal journey from lower middle-class Wellington to his death in London as Lieutenant General The Right Hon. Lord Freyberg. 

Bernard Freyberg with son Paul during the Allied advance in Italy, 1944 

Who was this man, who presented initially as innocent and vague, yet showed a sharp intellect to those who knew him? How much of his action-hero status came from an effort to validate himself? 

Being sworn in as Governor-General, 1946

Why was he so ferociously private he did not even have a photographer at his own wedding? Why did he try to keep his 1914 adventures during the Mexico Revolution secret to the point of having his biographies censored?

Freyberg Beach, Wellington – one of many places named after the man

Freyberg: A Life’s Journey is the most accessible and revealing  Freyberg biography yet, with numerous photos. 


The author

Matthew Wright is one of New Zealand’s most published historians and writers. His work includes more than 600 articles, papers and reviews, and over 60 books on topics from biography to military and social history. His other Oratia books are The New Zealand Wars (2014) and The New Zealand Experience at Gallipoli and the Western Front (2017) (see

Publication: 6 October 2020  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-72-8  | RRP $45.00

Paperback with flaps, 234 x 153 mm portrait, 232 pages, b&w


Thursday, October 1, 2020

Sir Singlet wins the battle for comfy underwear

An hilarious new tale about following your heart, from the authors of international bestseller I Need a New Bum!, is out now.

Zany rhymes and crazy illustrations have become the staple diet for fans of Thames author Dawn McMillan and Birkenhead illustrator Ross Kinnaird. 


Their newest collaboration, Sir Singlet, continues in that funny vein with its colourfully illustrated story of a knight who can’t stand the sloppy underwear he wears under his armour.


Narrated by his nephew, the story celebrates special talents:


Sir Singlet is clever with needle and thread.

See all the cushions he’s made for his bed?

Sir Singlet’s solution to his problem is to design his own line of comfortable, and colourful ‘knightwear’. But before he can launch the product, the king gets in the way by declaring war.


Wearing his new undergarments, Sir Singlet wins the battle, not using hand-to-hand combat — but by scaring his enemies away when he displays his wonderful wearable creations!


The king is so pleased that he … well, you’ll have to read the story to find out how it all ends up. 

The authors

Dawn McMillan 
is an internationally recognised writer of children’s books who lives north of Thames. Among her many popular works are 
I Need a New Bum! and Dr Grundy’s UndiesRoss Kinnaird is an illustrator and graphic designer whose books have been published in many countries, often in collaboration with Dawn. He lives near the sea on Auckland’s North Shore.  

Publication: 2 October 2020  |  RRP $19.99  |  ISBN:  978-0-947506-75-9
Paperback, 230 x 215 mm, 32 pages, colour
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