Re­turn home boosts pub­lisher

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By KA­T­RINA LINTONBON

As Rachel Walker looks out over Hin­uera Val­ley from her house on the top of Emer­ald Hill, a smile lights up her face.

‘‘This is just magic, I feel so con­nected to this place.’’

Mrs Walker knows this area and the house that her and hus­band bought two-and-a-half years ago well – she spent nearly ev­ery school hol­i­days at her grand­par­ents’ house when she was a child.

Her grand­par­ents Jim and Molly Pond were well- known iden­ti­ties in the Mata­mata area.

Choos­ing to leave be­hind the busy life in Auck­land was a no­brainer for Mrs Walker. She wanted her chil­dren Grace and Beth to grow up in the coun­try.

When the op­por­tu­nity to pur­chase the house her grand­par­ents had owned came up, Mrs Walker said it was like it was meant to be.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing fell into place. My hus­band sold his busi­ness in Auck­land and I asked him what he thought about mov­ing back here,’’ she said.

The house on top of Emer­ald Hill also hap­pens to be home to one of the most suc­cess- ful chil­dren’s books pub­lish­ers in the coun­try.

In 2004, Mrs Walker, who had a strong back­ground in pub­lish­ing, her mum Pam Holden and sis­ter Sarah En­sor, with a mar­ket­ing back­ground, es­tab­lished Fly­ing Start Books. They later came up with the brand name Red Rocket Readers.

They cur­rently have 366 ti­tles and their books are dis­trib­uted to many coun­tries. The ti­tles are also avail­able as ebooks.

Mrs Walker’s mum Pam was the in­sti­ga­tor of the ven­ture and leads a team of au­thors in­clud­ing Mrs Walker af­ter spend­ing her ca­reer as a read­ing re­cov­ery teacher and spe­cial­ist.

A lot of the books writ­ten by Mrs Holden are true sto­ries that are based on her up­bring­ing on the farm on Pond Rd.

The Red Rocket Readers of­fice is based in Auck­land and Mrs Walker spends a cou­ple of days a week there.

And when she isn’t work­ing, Mrs Walker wan­ders around her farm and tends to the an­i­mals and re­lives her child­hood.

‘‘ We are just so pas­sion­ate about what we do and be­ing able to be based here in this happy place is just magic.’’

Pas­sion­ate about read­ing: Rachel Walker in her of­fice at home. This is where her mum’s be­d­room was when she was teenager.

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