Monday, November 14, 2016

Rotorua hosts launch for a special book on Māori tools and carving

Te Toki me te Whao: The Story and Use of Māori Tools was launched at the Te Puia retail store last Friday 11 November.

Author Clive Fugill is the long-standing Master Carver in the carving school at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, which forms part of Te Puia.

His book provides the perspective of an esteemed practitioner on the origins, manufacture and use of tools in Māori arts and daily life.

It is also the first book on the subject in over a century.

The title means ‘The Adze and the Chisel’.

Addressing guests at the launch, Māori Arts and Crafts Institute General Manager Eraia Kiel noted that the title is very appropriate, as it highlights the key tools for carving.

Author Clive Fugill (left) being greeted by Eraia Kiel, General Manager
of the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute
The book also covers the place of tools in mythology, usage elsewhere in the Pacific, and modern adaptations.
Clive Fugill (centre) with colleagues from the carving school
It is liberally illustrated with striking drawings by the author, and includes photos by Chris Hoult (who also took the featured launch photos).

Clive acknowledged the endorsement of Te Puia in bringing to fruition the book, which preserves knowledge that he has accumulated since he acquired his first adze at the age of nine.

Te Toki me te Whao  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-13-1  |  RRP $39.99

Paperback, 250 x 185 mm portrait, 160 pages (8 pages colour)

Publisher Peter Dowling of Oratia Books (left), with Clive Fugill and Eraia Kiel
Clive Fugill signing books at the launch
All photos courtesy Chris Hoult:

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A new take on classic Māui myth hits the bookshops today

How to tell a great traditional story in a way that can connect with young readers today in both Māori and English?

That was the challenge Oratia Books' Peter Dowling put to author Tim Tipene when explaining the concept for a series of books that would honour indigenous stories and languages in a modern context.

Tim’s response forms his tenth book, an imaginative retelling of Māui catching the sun – one of the great foundation myths of Māori culture.

In his version, Māui is a pre-teen who lives with his mum and four older brothers in a city where life is tough, in part because there’s never enough time in the day to get things done.

Māui – Sun Catcher follows Māui devsing a plan, driving with his brothers to the pit where the sun lives, and catching him in ropes of woven flax.

The trickster Māui, who speaks in rhyme, alternately charms and threatens the sun:
My ropes will slow you down.
You will drift across the sky
And people will see my ropes reaching down
Whenever you’re up high.

Bringing the text to life are vivid colour drawings by widely published illustrator and animator Zak Waipara, who has created a feel that is both contemporary and classic in this classy hardback.

The bilingual book features English and Māori in differently shaded type on each spread. Translations are by prominent musician and academic Rob Ruha.

Collaboration has been key to the series, Indigenous Voices – which has developed in part through creative input from a range of international publishers, including Mexican children’s book specialist Miriam Martinez and Oratia’s Editorial Director Carolyn Lagahetau.

So while it stands on its own and will be available across New Zealand, Māui – Sun Catcher is also a pilot for telling indigenous stories to readers worldwide.

Māui – Sun Catcher  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-14-8  |  RRP $24.99
Hardback, 270 x 210 mm, 32 pages colour

Rob Ruha
Tim Tipene
Zak Waipara

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Remembering Dario Fo

Dario Fo  actor-playwright, comedian, singer, theatre director, stage designer, songwriter, painter, political campaigner and Nobel Prize winner – died on 13 October 2016 aged 90.

I was fortunate enough to meet him in 1989, when he was producing the play The Pope and the Witch at the Teatro dell'Arte in Milan, where my father Aldo and brother Marco worked. 

Thanks to my father I was able to sit discreetly in the back row of the theatre to watch the rehearsals, with Dario and his wife Franca Rame 'creating' the play, acting and directing it at the same time, tutoring and interacting with the numerous actors that surrounded them. 

Dario was a great man and a great writer too.

You can find a well written obituary in the Economist:

And a more extensive one in the Guardian:

 Alessandra Zecchini

Milan: thousands attended the funeral of Dario Fo in Milan.
Photo courtesy of Marco Teatro

Photo courtesy of Marco Teatro

Thursday, October 27, 2016

In review: Frankfurt Book Fair 2016

The New Zealand stand in Hall 6.0 at the Frankfurt Book Fair
The Frankfurt Book Fair remains the largest and busiest of the many book fairs that occur around the world annually. For many in the book publishing business, being at Frankfurt is the apex of their working year, none more so than literary agents and rights managers who battle it out to get their authors the best advances and print runs in overseas markets.

For New Zealand publishers the fair offers the chance to reconnect with colleagues and business partners from the seven seas. The collective stand organised by the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) and assistance from Creative New Zealand make it possible for smaller publishers to promote their authors at the fair – which this year grouped nearly 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 nations.

This year Oratia was able to squeeze 35 meetings into the three professional days from Wednesday to Friday – with a bit of overflow on the Saturday (the fair opens to the public on the weekend). Those encounters included international print and ebook distributors, fellow publishers, literary agents and scouts, booksellers, journalists and printers.

Wearing my industry hat as PANZ international councillor, I joined in association meetings with the fair organisers, had exchanges with other book fairs including Guadalajara, London and Taipei, and helped to manage the impressive New Zealand stand.

Our stand in Hall 6.0, among other English-language publishers, is impressive not just for its visual impact and size, but also for the camaraderie that brings exhibiting publishers together.

Some of the NZ crew
The Friday evening party, with excellent Kiwi wines generously sponsored by the New Zealand Embassy in Berlin, is regarded as one of the book fair's premium social events. This year’s was no exception, attracting an estimated 300 guests from around the publishing world.

But it’s all in the follow-up, as Frankfurt veterans will tell you. Now begins the long haul of sending sample copies and PDFs, talking page lengths and print runs and prices, in the hope that our authors and illustrators can reach an international readership.

After Frankfurt, though, those fortunate enough to attend can all make those sorts of decisions better, having shared with our peers among hundreds of thousands of books. This year the fair’s total visitor numbers were slightly up on 2015, at 277,000, with trade visitor attendance up +1.3% to 142,300 – testament to the continuing buoyancy of the global book industry.

– Peter Dowling
At the New Zealand stand party: Linda Cassells of Calico Publishing with Annabel Robertson, Second Secretary of the New Zealand Embassy in Berlin
Sam Elworthy of AUP (left) and Rod Fee of Eunoia Publishing epitomise the NZ team spirit by serving at the bar (Photo: Anton Blank)
At the New Zealand party

Friends and exhibitors at the party

Around the international halls

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

RIP Len Gale

It is with sadness that we note the passing of artist, author, left-wing activist and teacher Len Gale on Saturday at the age of 89.

Len and I met in 1997 not long after his book Greenstone Carving was published. I had the privilege of becoming his editor at Reed Publishing, and we formed a strong friendship as we brought to publication  three further books – Wood Carving, Creative Metal and Technology Basics

Len matched a deep knowledge of all these crafts with a rare ability to communicate them in words and his inimitable drawings. 

These were far from his only literary productions, too – until the end of his life he was writing about craft for magazines and publishing booklets about his family and his childhood in Grafton as one of the 'Gully Boys', and maintaining a link to the tense days when he had covertly printed pamphlets to support the 1951 Waterfront Strike.

He led a colourful life, and one characterised by a generous concern for others. As a craftsman he was noted especially for his work in metal, and he gave back much to the community of West Auckland. 

Len, you will be missed. I do hope that Oratia can carry through on our discussions to bring some of your books back into print before too long.

- Peter Dowling
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