Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Respected Writer’s Last Book Records First European Contact In New Zealand

Respected former journalist, writer and publisher Gordon Ell passed away in Auckland last week, but not before he saw early copies of his most recent book, edited with daughter Sarah Ell.

Gordon Ell

First Encounters: New Zealand 1642–1840 builds on the Ell’s impressive legacy of New Zealand books (Gordon authored over 30) and is the fourth in Oratia’s growing NZ Series, which introduces New Zealand society, history, science and geography to general readers and students.

Launched this week, their latest collaboration samples some of the amazing first impressions that Europeans formed when they landed in Aotearoa. They had no idea what they would find, and their journals are filled with wonder, curiosity and inevitable misunderstandings.

First Encounters selects some of the key writings from these early traders, missionaries, explorers and surveyors. It covers nearly 200 years from Abel Tasman in 1642 and Joseph Banks in 1769, to early settlers such as John Logan Campbell in 1840 — in first-person accounts that preserve the English of the times.

The text is well illustrated with two-colour imagery and photos, alongside fact boxes explaining historical language, places and events.

The NZ Series now counts four titles, with the fifth, Matthew Wright’s The New Zealand Wars, to publish in July 2020.


Gordon Ell was a writer and publisher with a life-long interest in New Zealand’s natural and historic heritage. He wrote more than 30 books for adults and children. His daughter, Sarah Ell, is an editor, writer and journalist who has written ten books, and inherited her father’s love of New Zealand history and the environment.

First Encounters: New Zealand 1642–1840

Edited by Gordon Ell and Sarah Ell, published by Oratia Books

ISBN: 978-0-947506-90-2 | RRP $29.99 | Paperback

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman'

The Guardian needed not one, but three reviews to do justice to Fennell's unsettling approach, which indicates exactly how ambiguous and controversial its message really is. More>>

Howard Davis: Jill Trevelyan's Rita Angus

Although Angus has become one of Aotearoa’s best-loved painters, the story of her life remained little known and poorly understood before Jill Trevelyan's acclaimed and revelatory biography, which won the Non Fiction Award at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2009, and has now been republished by Te Papa press. More>>

Howard Davis: The Back of the Painting

Painting conservators are the forensic pathologists of the art world. While they cannot bring their subjects back to life, they do provide fascinating insights into the precise circumstances of a painting's creation, its material authenticity, and constructive methodology. More>>

Howard Davis: Black Panthers on the Prowl

A passionate and gripping political drama from Shaka King, this is an informative and instructive tale of human frailty that centers around the charismatic Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was murdered at the age of twenty-one during a police raid. More>>

Howard Davis: Controlling the High Ground

Stephen Johnson's raw and angry film not only poses important questions with scrupulous authenticity, but also provides a timely reminder of the genocidal consequences of casual bigotry and xenophobia. More>>

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland