Penguin’s survival tale launch

A children’s book telling the story of a little blue penguin’s rescue from the Rena disaster will be launched by Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby today.

Debbie McCauley reading her Rena penguin book. Photo: Bruce Barnard.

October 5 marks the third anniversary of the disaster, and Tauranga librarian and author Debbie McCauley is excited to present ‘Motiti Blue and the Oil Spill’.

The bilingual children’s picture book is designed to entertain and inform.

“It is all photos – photos, diagrams, and fact boxes, plus there’s also a timeline,” says Debbie.

“I’m a children’s librarian, so yes, it is [very educational]. But without ramming it down their throats, you know?”

Debbie says it’s good Stuart will speak at the launch.

“He was Mayor throughout this, [and] I want people to be able to talk about their own experiences through the disaster. It’s our story, and we don’t want it to be forgotten.

“There have been two children’s books that have come out about the Christchurch earthquake, so this is our chance to tell our story.”

She was inspired to publish by the ongoing ecological tragedy of the disaster that “happened in our backyard”, and says her book is not just for children.

“Adults read my last book and really liked it, so I’m hoping adults will get something out of it. I’ve had a couple of people look at it and say, ‘Oh – that brings it all back’.”

But the process has not been without its challenges.

“One of the challenges was getting the photos to match the story. I wanted all the photographs to be from Tauranga and from the oil spill; I didn’t want an oiled penguin from overseas, I wanted photos that had been taken here.”

The book has been translated into Maori ahead of the anniversary proper, a decision Debbie was proud to support for both patriotic and artistic reasons.

“My last book was bilingual as well, and it’s an official language of New Zealand, so I think it’s really important. I think it tells the whole story.”

The launch is 3pm-4pm at Tauranga City Library, where attendees will also have the opportunity to buy the book directly from Debbie and have it signed.

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