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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.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

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

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