Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Showcasing 25 years of outstanding oratory from the Going West Writers Festival: Voices of Aotearoa

A feast of New Zealand writing and ideas on offer in volume transcribed from 25 years of Going West Writers Festival 

Imagine a party at which two dozen of our leading writers and thinkers gather to share views on a provocative range of themes of national significance.

Voices of Aotearoa invites the reader to join those festivities, just as the Going West Writers Festival has been drawing audiences to Auckland’s west since 1996 to hear from a host of speakers.

This smartly designed hardback draws on the Going West Trust’s complete sound archive to reproduce edited keynote speeches from the festival — addressing topical themes in literature, politics, the environment, culture, personal lives and national identity. 

On the menu are thought-provoking essays from the likes of Michael King and Maurice Shadbolt, personal reflections from Dame Fiona Kidman and Maualaivao Albert Wendt, poetry and song from Allen Curnow and Robert Sullivan, satire from Stephanie Johnson and Te Radar, and much more in between. 


Bookmarking the essays are a retrospective on the festival by  Going West Trust chair Naomi McCleary, and a postscript about adapting to the Covid-19 era from current festival director James Littlewood.

James' words are prophetic, as the proposed launch of Voices of Aotearoa ahead of Going West's 11 September event has had to be postponed until at least 9 October, due to Auckland's current lockdown.

Going West has proved adept at moving its festival online, and we're happy to follow for the launch. Happily Voices of Aotearoa remains a physical object and is now available for delivery or click and collect from good booksellers around the country!


The writers

The eminent authors featured in Voices of Aotearoa are:

Dame Christine Cole-Catley • Nigel Cox • Allen Curnow • Patricia Grace • Charlotte Grimshaw • Stephanie Johnson  • Dame Fiona Kidman • Michael King • Elizabeth Knox • Bernard Makoare • Paula Morris •  Rod Oram • Geoff Park • Vincent O’Sullivan • Chris Price • Te Radar • Dame Anne Salmond • Maurice Shadbolt • Tony Simpson • Robert Sullivan • Ngahuia Te Awekotuku • Dame Marilyn Waring • Ian Wedde • Peter Wells • Maualaivao Albert Wendt


Publication: 16 September 2021  |  RRP $49.99 |  ISBN:  978-0-947506-97-1

Hardback, 220 x 170 mm, 384 pages, b&w

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

New picture book honours a whānau's love for koro/grandpa

Putting her career on hold to care for her husband provided Jill Bevan-Brown with the inspiration to write her first book for children.  

As a lecturer in education at Massey University Jill published widely, but it was appreciating the relationship between kids and their grandfather despite his ill health that led to this picture book.


Jill’s husband Winston has dementia, but as Blimmin’ Koro tells, the disease has not changed how much his grandkids love him.

In the book Koro (grandfather) becomes more forgetful, starts to hide things and has to use a wheelchair, so Kotukū and the other grandkids learn about dementia and help him adjust. 


‘Blimmin’ Koro,’ they laugh, when he does something funny.


Trish Bowles’ watercolour illustrations sensitively trace the family’s journey and help show dementia doesn’t mean the end of life.


Te reo translation is by Jill and Winston’s son Māhaki, a Māori language teacher at Mana Tamariki Kura Kaupapa Māori in Palmerston North.

Blimmin’ Koro will publish ahead of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. 

For teachers, the book comes with classroom resources that can be accessed through this link.

Watch out for the video of Jill reading the book, which we hope will help parents with kids at home due to lockdown.

Oratia Books regrets that stocks of Blimmin' Koro may be limited due to restrictions on distribution under Covid-19 alert levels 3 and 4. Please back order if you can't get books right away and we will send books as soon as possible.


The authors

Jill Bevan-Brown 
is a former lecturer in Inclusive Education. She retired in 2014 to care for her husband Winston, who has advanced Lewy Body Dementia. They live in Palmerston North. Blimmin' Koro is her first picture book for children.

Trish Bowles is a Christchurch-based freelance artist who has illustrated more than 30 books, including Home Child (Oratia, 2019).

Publication: 7 September 2021  |  RRP $25.99  |  ISBN:  978-0-947506-87-2

Hardback, 270 x 210 mm, 32 pages, colour

Thursday, September 2, 2021

Publishing through the lockdown ...

The Level 4 lockdown in place in Auckland till at least mid-September is playing havoc with book publishing and distribution. 

Restrictions on despatching goods from Auckland mean that supply of books even via online ordering, or bookstores south of Auckland where Level 3 is in place, is very limited. 

This is gutting after industry consultation over the past 18 months secured assurances from central government about the importance of access to books for wellbeing in Kiwi households.

New Zealand remains one of very few countries to have restricted book sales so severely due to Covid-19.

At Oratia Books we carry on undeterred — working from home, publishing our next two titles as scheduled and hoping that our bookstore partners and their customers will understand if books aren't always available. 

So next Tuesday we will publish as best we can the wonderful picture book Blimmin' Koro/Kātahi rā, e Koro e!, a bilingual story of family aroha (love) amidst adversity. 

As soon as we can get books to author Jill Bevan-Brown in Palmerston North, she'll record a reading on video so that whānau stuck at home can enjoy the book until they're able to get hold of an actual copy. 

On 16 September comes Voices of Aotearoa: 25 Years of Going West Oratory, a beautifully designed work with a host of provocative writing from the leading New Zealand authors who have addressed the Going West Writers Festival since its inception.

Going West has rescheduled the launch of Voices of Aotearoa to 9 October, ahead of its Fabricated Reality event at Lopdell House and Te Uru, in Titirangi.

Some delay is unavoidable for our third September release, though — Seven Lives on Salt River was to be printed in Auckland in late August, but now awaits a lowering of alert levels before the printer can reopen.

We look forward to getting books into readers' hands as soon as possible, and wish everyone safe and healthy times till we're through the Delta crisis.
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