CLNZ Educational Publishing Awards have three Huia Publishers learning resources nominated this year, and three books which are finalists in Massey University’s Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards 2014. It is a good showing, but one which has come to be expected given Huia’s dominance in the Māori language publishing field and in books on Māori topics and issues.
After 20 years in the hands of founders Robyn and Brian Bargh, Huia Publishers had a seamless changeover of principals early this year when control was handed to incoming owners Brian Morris and Eboni Waitere. Brian Morris had been with Huia for 13 years and heads up their sizeable schools publishing program of around 40 projects a year, mostly as contractors for the Ministry of Education.
Eboni Waitere (left) has also been with Huia for the past four years, coming into the firm as the Chief Operating Officer and responsible for the trade list. She and Brian are now co-owners and executive directors of the publishing company.
Eboni found her new role was nevertheless ‘a big learning curve’ but one she is enjoying. “We have an exciting programme of work!” She felt she was ‘semi prepared’ but found it has a different workload from a different perspective to her previous role.
Brian and Robyn Bargh still contribute to Huia and its publications; they assist with the manuscript assessment and Robyn is still a Director on the board.
All up, Huia is a substantial publisher based in Wellington’s Thorndon with a full time staff of around 20, backed up by freelance authors and contributors as needed.
November is not only awards month for Huia, it is also the month of publication for some of their major titles. Another, Wira Gardiner’s Parekura Horomia: Kia Ora Chief! is a December release which will be launched first at Hauiti Marae 6 December with Parekura’s whānau, and a second time by Te Ururoa Flavell, Minister of Māori Development, in the Grand Hall of Parliament on December 9.
And don’t dismiss Huia as publishing in only two languages … First Readers in Samoan has just been released, ten stories in Samoan with English translations, alongside First Readers in Māori. The bilingual books are ideal for beginning learners of both Samoan and Māori, with simple language, stories and illustrations that support the text.
They also launch Whispers & Vanities: Samoan Indigenous Knowledge and Religion hosted by His Highness, the Head of State of Samoa, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi Efi at The Wharewaka Function Centre in Wellington on 18 November.
The book is a collection of essays and selected poetry that form a carefully woven critique of aspects of Samoa’s religious and cultural values from many Samoan authors. So will Huia be publishing more Samoan titles? “When it comes to Samoan titles, for us it’s about our relationship with the Samoan leadership,” says Eboni. “We are not experts in Samoan language or culture, so we are guided by their leadership and if they require our publishing support then we will continue to build that relationship and publish accordingly. If there comes a point when they no longer need our assistance then we would continue to work on Māori titles which is our particular area of expertise.”
Other new on the market titles for bookselling’s paramount Christmas sales season are Ngā Ki / Keys, two new picture books, one in English, one in Māori, written by Sacha Cotter, translated by Kawata Teepa and illustrated by Josh Morgan. Dad uses his keys to spin magic stories about what each key might unlock.
Brian Morris (left) has also translated the international title Monkey Puzzle by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Axel Scheffer to a Māori version, Ke Hea Taku Mama, complete with original artwork. The picture books are December releases.
Huia have four titles currently up for Awards: both Living by the Moon – Te Maramataka o Te Whānau-ā-Apanui and Future Challenges for Māori: He Kōrero Anamata are nominated for both the CLNZ Education Awards and Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards. Fred Graham: Creator of Forms – Te Tohunga Auaha also features in the Ngā Kupu Ora Awards and Selwyn Katene’s Spirit of Māori Leadership is Huia’s other title in the CLNZ Awards.
“We are always pleased and enjoy the recognition that being nominated for an award brings,” says Brian.
But back to the trade publishing side of Huia: it is clearly thriving with around 12 – 15 titles lined up for publication next year. Plus they have a further 30 projects lined up says Eboni. “They include some commissioned titles, titles to be translated and unsolicited manuscripts which we think have potential.”
Brian Morris had a background in Māori education before joining Huia. His current team work on Māori language resources, mostly for the Ministry of Education where they are a member of a panel with five other publishers meeting the Ministry’s various educational and book supply requirements.
“The future for Huia in publishing Māori stories and aspirations, and in Māori language is exciting,” says Brian.