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Discover the story of New Zealand through this multiple-award-winning, richly illustrated visual history by Gavin Bishop.

Over a thousand years ago, the wind, sea currents and stars brought people to the islands that became known as Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud.

Navigate your way through this sumptuously illustrated story of New Zealand. Explore the defining moments of our history, captured by celebrated children's book creator Gavin Bishop, from the Big Bang right through to what might happen tomorrow. Discover Maori legends, layers of meaning and lesser-known facts.

A truly special book, Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story deserves a space on every bookshelf, to be taken off and pored over, thumbed and treasured, time and again.

Margaret Mahy Book of the Year,
New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2018
Elsie Locke Award for Non-fiction,
New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2018
Storylines Notable Non-Fiction Award 2018
Best Children's Book, PANZ Book Design Awards 2018
NZ Listener 50 Best Books for Kids 2017
The Sapling Best Books List 2017


a tour de force . . . every page is a treasure box.

Kate De Goldi, Saturday Morning with Kim Hill

Like all great picture books, it’s a book for adults too; one to read with tamariki. It’s a work of tremendous research and wisdom. ... Aotearoa is a history of us, right now, where we stand and just how far we’ve come. It’s a history which introduces our kids to important issues to look back on as they step into the future. Everyone should read it with their kids. It’ll send them leaping off on their own voyages of discovery.

Donovan Bixley, Weekend Herald / The Sapling

A monumental achievement, this, to sum up our history in 65 pages. Bishop has laid this out in a kid-friendly format that effortlessly integrates te reo, and his attention to detail is mindboggling. The wide-ranging scope includes cyber-bullying, the homeless … and baristas. My pick for NZ book of the year – make that the decade.

Ann Packer, NZ Listener

Wow! A book for the ages— literally. Aotearoa’s social history is charted here from Kupe through settlement, wars, social upheaval, Kate Sheppard, Edmund Hillary and Lorde. With neat sketches looking at the food we ate, the way we dressed, what we fought over and what we’ve become, this fantastic study of NZ society has a talking point on every page. There’s a place for this on every bookshelf. The coolest kids’ book I’ve seen all year.

Winston Aldworth, Weekend Herald

One of the kaumatua of Kiwi kids’ books writes and illustrates our nation’s history from Big Bang to baristas in just over 60 pages. Rooted in cosmology and myth, yet vividly contemporary (street people and online bullying), it’s rich with te reo and with Bishop’s sumptuous art. Is anyone else so good at getting grand effects into a small space, at showing the minutiae and sweep of sky, sea, shore? Stirring legends and episodes alternate with splendid trivia; one of the year’s most handsome local publishing efforts.

David Hill, Weekend Herald

A spectacular book!

Rachel Eadie, Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan Children's Book Review

This book is like a treasure house of New Zealand history with text and illustrations from one of our very best children’s authors – Gavin Bishop. Penguin Random House have produced a gorgeous hardback book (it is very big and very beautiful!) that celebrates such a wonderful labour of love through publishing care. Gavin shines a reading searchlight in all directions. History is like a prism – it has many ways of being viewed. Aotearoa should be in every home and in every school because it is a book where you can lose yourself meandering and you can discover all kinds of things. You have to peer closely into each page to find things in the words and the images. Magnificent!

Paula Green, Poetry Box

A treasure trove of history and amazing facts, adults are going to want to steal this book from the kids on Christmas Day. It tells this country’s story in short bites of text alongside big, beautiful illustrations. From how New Zealand was settled, to the wars fought on our land, times of hardship and progress, even the ways we’ve built our houses, the foods we eat and the clothes we have worn, this manages to convey an enormous amount of knowledge in a way that’s both unique and vibrant.

Nicky Pellegrino, New Zealand Woman's Weekly

This beautifully illustrated visual history of New Zealand is one of those books all homes should have. Richly textured with scenes from the beginning of Aotearoa to urban life today, it presents our country's character with a gloriously colourful, playful hand, in compelling detail. Clever, award-winning illustrator Gavin Bishop has created a classic.

AA Directions

As an adult, this book makes for a great peruse through the decades and will be fun to share with children to show them how we lived in the "old days". For children, this book is a great source of entertainment and a fount of knowledge about our great country.

Gisborne Herald

This is a book both children and adults will pore over for hours. The knowledge within it serves as a great ‘jumping off’ point, bound to inspire self-directed learning. It is a wonderful, bold and unique telling of our history that will be a treasure for years to come.

Rebekah Fraser, Good Reads

...this is top of my list of delights! A large size with vivid illustrations from Gavin Bishop will make a perfect family gift and become one to be treasured through the years . . . in all my years of bookselling I haven’t seen a book quite like it!

Sue's Reviews, Wairarapa Times-Age Weekend

Bishop does bring a far more balanced and detailed account of our country’s past. His large-format, hard-covered book is packed with gorgeous illustrations, defining moments and lesser-known facts that will engage and fascinate for hours any child lucky enough to have it. The award-winning Christchurch writer and illustrator uses a broad-brush approach, keeps it simple, and refreshingly gives at least as much attention to the Maori story as the colonial one.

Peter Shand, Horowhenua Chronicle

...the type of book that will expand the way you think about New Zealand's past and its present; I had to prise my copy out of the hands of an enchanted adult. From Gondwanaland through to the future, the drawings under topics such as food, clothes, a land of birds and Maori land loss are so absorbing that at the end you will immediately want to go back to the beginning and start again. A children's book that adults will love.

Marianne Tremaine, Heritage NZ

An exciting large picture book for children and adults, packed full of fascinating facts and brilliant, detailed illustrations covering all aspects of Maori and Pakeha history.

Carole Beu, Ponsonby News

A richly illustrated, easy-to-follow history of New Zealand, from its prehistoric beginnings to today. More suited to older children but a wonderful gift, or addition to the bookshelf for when baby is bigger.

Little Treasures Magazine

The result is a delight, a personal vision of the history of our country in word and picture, a triumph of good design and a celebration of all those who have contributed to our national identity. Aotearoa is the book of the year, perhaps even the book of the decade. Best of all it attracts readers like a magnet. Aotearoa, with its richness of detail, has the same fascination for young readers as the Guinness Book of Records. They carry it around, reading bits out aloud. What better advertisement could there be for a book?

Trevor Agnew, Agnewreading.blogspot

Over 64 beautiful pages, Bishop explores the history of our land, beginning with a time-based structure, then moving into story pages. A must-have for every family in New Zealand.

Sarah Forster, The Sapling

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    October 2, 2017

    Picture Puffin

    64 pages

    RRP $40.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

Awards and Recognition

  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults
    Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction
  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
    Margaret Mahy Book of the Year
  • PANZ Book Design Awards
    Scholastic New Zealand Award for Best Children's Book
  • Storylines Notable Non-fiction Award
    A Storylines Notable Non-Fiction Book
  • New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
    Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

Also by Gavin Bishop