The Sunday Series: Debbie McCauley


Debbie McCauley is someone I know.  She’s an author and publisher and a specialiast librarian based at the Tauranga City Library.  Hardworking and talented.  Debbie was also a Te Reo Maori language student in the same year at Te Wananga o Aotearoa in Tauranga.  

Debbie McCauley and Puhirake Ihaka at the launch of The Treaty of Waitangi in Tauranga at The Elms

Debbie’s ReadNZ  author’s statement says:  “McCauley, Debbie is primarily a narrative non-fiction author for children. Her motivation in writing is to communicate New Zealand’s historical events and traditional narratives through the form of storytelling. McCauley’s focus is to be inclusive and accessible to a wide audience and all of her children’s books have been published bilingually in Te Reo Māori and English. By engaging with the past, McCauley provides her readers with knowledge that can be used to better understand the New Zealand we live in today.

McCauley moved from Whakatāne to Tauranga in 1984 where she has been an active member of preserving the regions heritage through her writing. McCauley was a recipient of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Year Scholarship in 1993, which allowed her to complete an NZIM Certificate in Supervisory Management. In 2003 she began working as a librarian. McCauley gained a Certificate in Literature and Library Services for Children and Young Adults in 2008, going on to complete a BA with a double major in Humanities and Library & Information Studies in 2012.

McCauley has been a children’s librarian, but now writes extensively as part of her job as a Heritage Specialist in Ngā Wāhi Rangahau: Research Collections at Tauranga City Libraries. Her academic writing has been published in Library Life, the Historical Review: Bay of Plenty Journal of History, New Zealand Genealogist, New Zealand Memories, Tauranga Memories Kete and the New Zealand Library & Information Management Journal. Her poetry has been published in Bravado, the Bay of Plenty Times, Enamel Magazine, and she has been interviewed live by BBC Ireland, Central TV News, Radio Waatea, Radio NZ and TVNZ.

The McCauley Family of Katikati, New Zealand, 1876-2012 was McCauley’s first book, released in 2012 and the first published by her own independent publishing company, Mauao Publishing. In this book she was able to combine her two passions; history and writing. McCauley brings together 20 years of genealogical research, telling the story of her colonial ancestors.

McCauley places great importance in the accessibility of New Zealand’s cultural history and communicates this through storytelling.

Her first bilingual picture book Taratoa and Code of Conduct: A Story from the Battle of Gate Pā (Mauao Publishing, 2014) was long-listed in the 2015 LIANZA Children and Young Adults Book Awards. The illustrations for the book were done by her 15-year-old daughter, Sophie McCauley, the text translated into Te Reo Māori by Tamati Waaka and the design by Sarah Elworthy.

Battle of Pukehinahina – Gate Pa.

Her second children’s book Mōtītī Blue and The Oil Spill: A Story from the Rena Disaster (Mauao Publishing, 2014) won the best non-fiction award in the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and was chosen as a White Raven by the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany. The Blind Foundation selected it for production in Braille, large print and E-text.

McCauley spent the three years creating The Treaty of Waitangi in Tauranga: Te Tiriti o Waitangi ki Tauranga Moana (Mauao Publishing, 2018). Illustrated by Whare Joseph Thompson, it was translated into Te Reo Māori by Tamati Waaka and designed by Sarah Elworthy. McCauley’s research for the book was shared for the He Tohu exhibition at the National Library of New Zealand. The Blind Foundation also selected this book to be produced in Braille, large print and E-text.Images from the April 2018 launch of Te Tiriti o Waitangi ki Tauranga at The Elms, Tauranga

Released during Tauranga’s Matariki festival, Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao (Mauao Publishing, 2018) retells the traditional Māori legend of Mauao, a tipuna and sacred taonga of Tauranga. The retelling was supported by local kaumatua, illustrated by Debbie Tipuna, translated into Te Reo Māori by Tamati Waaka and designed by Sarah Elworthy.

McCauley’s work is intrinsically linked with milestone events in New Zealand history. Her most recent work Eliza and the White Camellia: A Story of Suffrage in New Zealand (Mauao Publishing, 2018), was released on the 28th of November 2018, 125 years after New Zealand women went to the polling booths for the very first time after winning the vote. On the Suffrage 125 Tauranga organising committee, McCauley drew inspiration from her suffragist ancestor, Eliza Wallis, who was an active participant in the efforts to achieve the vote for women.” 1

In October 2014 I wrote an article featuring Debbie McCauley. 2  My article featured Debbie’s book Motiti Blue and The Oil Spill: A Story From the Rena Disaster. The cover image of the little blue penguin was created by Elliot Mason, artist who conicidentally opened his most recent exhibition. It is “Fire Water Land and Sky” at The Incubator Gallery until the 27th June 2020.  

Debbie’s books may be “for children” but I’ve loved reading them.  I love the combination of languages and the beautiful and original images.    So, what’s next Debbie McCauley?

Debbie McCauley and another talented author Rebecca Larson at a noho marae at Huria Marae, Tauranga 2019

 1.  Read NZ, Debbie McCauley

2.   “Talented, hardworking and persistent Tauranga Children’s author Debbie McCauley”

The front cover image of “Motiti Blue” by artist Elliot Mason.  Creative Bay of Plenty says ”

Bay of Plenty artist Elliot Mason will hold his latest exhibition at The Incubator Gallery. The body of work contains thirty-two years of influences where he purges the old and inhales the new and a quest for meaning.

Elliot’s works demonstrate a lust for a well-formed line, with an attraction to intricacy. Think nature documentaries merged with art nouveau and 60’s op pop.

The artist describes this as an exhibition of one hundred clichés. Expect to see elements of the natural world, the curious exploration of unknown territories, frantic straddling of fleeting moments, fading away, reemerging, the ebb and flow from one moment to the next, the solitude and simplicity of an empty spaces, decay, high tide to low, darkness to light.

Elliot says: “It was a good summer in the waves and wading through rivers while autumn has heralded an unusual sanctuary of time, unbridled procrastination eventually gave way to focus and some work was produced.” He has been inspired by second homes, a new venue, a new life. He has spent this time during production of this body of work by honing, sharpening and crafting, reworking, burning, cutting and drawing, peacefully moving from one work to the next travelling in a full circle.

The Incubator would like to welcome everyone to come and view this incredible body of work.

What: Elliot Mason Art Exhibition
When: Friday 5th June – Saturday 27th June
Where: The Incubator Gallery -The Historic Village, 17th Avenue Tauranga
Artist Contact: | 0273142807
Incubator Contact: | 075713232 ”

This article has been compiled from information and articles available online. Images have been previously published on ARTbop.  Those which have not are images taken by Rosemary Balu.

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand


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