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New kids’ book a love letter to Kiwi lighthouses

Photographer and lighthouse enthusiast Grant Sheehan has written Oliver Goes to Stephens Island Lighthouse to help inspire Kiwi kids with a love of these important but often ignored buildings, and the key role they play in the history of Aotearoa New Zealand.

This is the third in the Phantom Tree House series of books for children about NZ lighthouses; the previous two being Ivan and the Lighthouse and Lucy Goes to the Lighthouse. These lively, beautiful books bring to life the history of our lighthouses, the keepers and their families.

The stories are educational, informative and entertaining, with richly detailed illustrations by Rosalind Clark.

Oliver Goes to Stephens Island Lighthouse, which is set in the recent past, tells the story of a young boy who gets to visit Stephens Island (Takapourewa) in the often stormy Cook Strait. Oliver has his first-ever ride in a helicopter and meets the last lighthouse keepers.

Through Oliver, young readers learn the sad tale of Lyall’s wren. Local legend has it that this flightless native bird was hunted to extinction by Tibbles, the first lighthouse keeper’s cat, in the late nineteenth century. Oliver also encounters the critically endangered Hamilton’s frog, and the nocturnal tuatara, Aotearoa’s own living dinosaurs.

Oliver Goes to Stephens Island Lighthouse is dedicated to Len Akers and Jill Barton, the last keepers of the lighthouse on Stephens Island. The book will be launched on 6 November 2019 at Marsden Books, Karori, Wellington, at 6pm. All welcome.

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