Price, Hugh

Price, Hugh

In Brief

Education, publishing and books for children were a focus for Hugh Price in his work and publications. In particular he published pamphlets and books that gave critical focus to the area of education and the history of education in New Zealand. He also authored numerous children’s books and was involved extensively in the publishing industry here and overseas. Hugh Price became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (M.N.Z.M) in 2009. Hugh Price passed away on December 28, 2009, aged 80.


Price, Hugh (1929-2009) was a writer, publisher and former bookseller.

Hugh Price was born in Wellington and grew up in Masterton. In 1948 he settled in Wellington. He graduated from Victoria University of Wellington (MA History) and Wellington Teachers College.

Price began his career in the book trade at Whitcombe and Tombs (now Whitcoulls) in Wellington and later at the branch in London, where he also attended the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts. Price worked briefly at several publishing houses, including Penguin, Hodder and Stoughton and BBC Publications. He was a regular columnist for the Auckland magazine Here and Now writing under the name Aprhys.

Price returned to Wellington in 1956 as manager of the Wellington Co-operative Book Society (‘Modern Books’), and, with Jim Milburn, founded Price Milburn, book publishers.

He then joined the School Publications Branch of the New Zealand Department of Education as an art editor. In 1963 he, and his wife Beverley Randell, left for Australia where Price took up the position of foundation Manager of Sydney University Press.

The family returned to New Zealand in 1968 so Price and Randell could help manage and editorially control Price Milburn. Together with the Milburns, the publishing house went on to develop a list of educational books and general titles. A Price Milburn bookshop was opened in Silverstream by Barbara Milburn under the name Bilbo’s Books.

In 1982 Price retired from Price Milburn. In 1992 he, his wife Beverley and daughter Susan Price established Gondwanaland Press.

In retirement Price wrote a number of books and pamphlets, including: School text books published in New Zealand to 1960 (Dunmore Press, 1992), Know the New Right (Gondwanaland Press, 1993), Beverley Randell, A Checklist of Books Written by Her, 1955-95 (Gondwanaland Press, 1992) and F. A.
Hayek’s New Right Manifesto
(Gondwanaland Press, 2000).

On the subject of teaching he wrote, Lo! I Am An Ox. Teaching Reading in New Zealand 1877-2000 (Gondwanaland Press, 2000), which was an expansion of a pamphlet he wrote for a National Library exhibition he curated in 1996.

In the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies Vivien Van Rij writes that in Lo! I Am On An Ox ‘Price’s tracking of historical school readers…is punctuated with some fascinating insights into the beliefs, theories, teaching methods, and social systems which influenced the construction of these texts.’

Price’s critical work appeared in professional journals including The Bookseller and the New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies.

Price’s books for children include: Lucky Day for Little Dinosaur (Nelson, 1996), Little Dinosaur Escapes (Nelson Price Milburn, 1997), When the Volcano Erupted (Nelson, 1997), The Dinosaur Chase (Nelson, 1997), Pterosaur’s Long Flight (Nelson, 1997), Gorgo Meets Her Match (Nelson, 1998), Zala Runs for Her Life (Nelson, 1998), A Troop of Little Dinosaurs (Nelson, 1998), The Asteroid (with Beverley Randell, Nelson,1999), The Triceratops and the Crocodiles (Nelson, 2001), and The Truth AT LAST About the Little Red Hen (Steele Roberts, 2003).

Hugh Price made considerable donations to New Zealand libraries. In 2001 he gave over 300 examples of school textbooks, published in New Zealand between 1860 and 1960, to the Alexander Turnbull Library. The collection came from the period when Price was working on School text books published in New Zealand to 1960.

Price gave a second research collection of school books published in New Zealand to 1960 (including an assembly of Whitcombes Story Books) to the Auckland University Library. These two collections are together known as the Hugh Price Collection.

In the 1970s and 1980s he served on the New Zealand Book Council Executive Committee and the Committee of Victoria University Press. He was also, for some years, book publishing consultant to the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Hugh Price also wrote Old Masterton in Colour, from Hundred-Year-Old Picture Postcards (Steele Roberts, 2003); The Plot to Subvert Wartime New Zealand (Victoria University Press, 2006); co-authored Old Wellington in Colour; from hundred year-old picture post cards with Susan Price (Steele Roberts, 2008); and co-authored Wellington at Work in the 1890s (Steele Roberts, 2009) with Beverley Randell.

Hugh Price was created a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (M.N.Z.M) in the 2009 New Year's Honours list.

Hugh Price died on December 28, 2009, aged 80.


  • Hugh Price Collection at the University of Auckland Library site
  • Alexander Turnbull Library site
  • Friends of the Turnbull Library

Updated January 2017.