CPP 'privileged, proud' to celebrate 25th anniversary

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 08:21 27/09/2012

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A friendship and business partnership that has endured the decades and which has produced some of New Zealand's best books was honoured at a special gathering in Nelson on Tuesday night.

A large crowd turned out to help celebrate the 25-year anniversary of Nelson firm Craig Potton Publishing (CPP), which now stands as one of the country's most successful independent publishing firms.

It is also symbolic of the partnership between the firm's founder, photographer Craig Potton and his long-time friend and the firm's co-owner, executive director and publisher Robbie Burton.

The pair have been friends since the mid 1970s and their shared outdoors and political interests have spawned the culture that has shaped CPP and held it on track.

Mr Potton said he started the firm to publish a project by him and conservationist and author Andy Dennis, who had worked for years on a project on the West Coast.

Images from a Limestone Landscape became its first book.

"I'm proud of CPP because it has mostly made products of integrity and beauty," Mr Potton said.

He and Mr Burton were stunned at last night's turnout of close to 200 people which they said was a reflection of the continuing power of books.

Mr Potton said 25 years seemed a "long, long time", but he was privileged, proud and happy to be celebrating the time. He said CPP was "all about the image and the word", and that he believed deeply in their importance. He paid tribute to some of the great authors the firm had worked with, and the power of great images which "honoured a world greater than ourselves".

He said the greatest privilege in owning CPP with Mr Burton was the time it had given him to fight for nature.

"It's not too fanciful to say some of the potential profits of CPP have not been realised on the balance sheets but in hectares of fully protected forests, marine reserves and saved rivers," Mr Potton said.

Mr Burton presented a snapshot of the company's history in a series of images that lauded and lampooned their achievements, from the best and most memorable titles to the biggest flops.

He said the decision to publish Wellington-based author Nicky Hager's Hollow Men, based on leaked National Party documents, was the hardest decision of his career because of the tricky legal territory they had ventured into.

Golden Bay author Gerard Hindmarsh's book Angelina: From Stromboli to D'Urville Island, was considered by Mr Burton to be the title most likely to be turned into a Hollywood film; Robyn Belton's Herbert The Brave Sea Dog turned out to be the best gamble that paid off, the decline of the Whitcoulls chain of bookstores resulted in the company's "closest shave", and a book on New Zealand golf courses, Fairway to Heaven, was its biggest disaster.

Mr Burton said it was fitting that its 25th year was also its proudest, helped by success at the New Zealand Post Book of the Year Awards. He said the company was in good heart, and ready to move into a new chapter of publishing books for children.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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