BNZ/PANZ Lifetime Achievement Award (the only one awarded) Ray Richards, a publisher for many years and now literary agent, notched up 90 years on February 1 this year.
If we all had his energy, enthusiasm and hard working brain the country’s financial problems could be solved. If Ray is still working 25 years on from today’s pension receiving age, then surely superannuation need not be paid to anyone under 80!
Ray was tough stuff from an early age. At 14 years 11 months and 12 years old respectively, Ray and his brother Sim took the train to Auckland and rode their bikes back to home in Wellington. “They were different days then – molestation hadn’t been invented, roads were gravel not bitumen and bikes didn’t have gears!”
At Cambridge Ray got mail asking him to accept an offer of employment at AH & AW Reed Publishing. AH Reed knew of Ray and recommended him to AW for the position. “So it was helter skelter back to Wellington.”
Getting the job meant Ray didn’t have to go back to school, and we’re talking depression years here.
Ray did his bit in the Fleet Air Arm to win the war and came back to Reeds’ to find AW wanted to follow his uncle’s example and become an author. So Ray’s progression from production and magazine manager to becoming an editor, then taking over the company’s book division was warp speed (though that probably hadn’t been invented then.)
That was only the beginning of a lifetime in books with some amazing milestones on the way – less than five years after fighting Japanese forces he was forging business deals with Kyoto in Japan to print New Zealand books in full colour.
An amazing life with so many highlights… and deals still in the pipeline not ready to be revealed just yet.
Luckily, Linda Cassells recorded several hours of Ray talking about his career in books for the History of New Zealand Publishing Oral History Archive. Some historian should write a bio – but not right now, there are more chapters to come.