From the Shop Floor: Paige’s Book Gallery

We are pleased to present a regular series highlighting the work, expertise and enthusiasm of some of the greatest booksellers of New Zealand. 

This month we’re featuring the remarkable Paige’s Book Gallery in Whanganui. Owner Lesley Stead tells us all about the history of the place and gives us her recommendations for some brilliant current and upcoming reads.

Our book business began in 2004, but it was in 2006 we made the decision to step into the world of retail. We began in a small heritage building in Guyton Street, Whanganui, but after a couple of years, space was at a premium, so we moved up the road to another heritage building on the corner of Guyton and Wicksteed Streets.

This site continues to be the home of Paige’s Book Gallery though we have extended into adjoining areas as we have continued to grow. We knocked a hole in an adjoining wall to build a room full of exquisite children’s books and took advantage of an empty shop on the other side to establish Lockett Gallery, the only art gallery within Aotearoa to specifically celebrate published illustrators (every two months we switch to a new illustrator).

Our current project is to empty one of our storage areas, which will give us the space to create a book club lending library. Throughout this growth, we have sustained a creative, boutique ambience, where customers are free to browse, discover, sit in one of our comfy armchairs, and be totally immersed in an eclectic range of books for every age and every imaginable interest.

What are you recommending this month?

The Midnight Adventures of Ruru and Kiwi by Amy Haarhoff and Clare Scott

The Boy The Mole The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Mophead Tu: The Queen’s Poem by Selina Tusitala Marsh

Kuwi and Friends Maori Picture Dictionary/ He Papakupu Whakaahua by Kat Quin

The Map Makers by Kirsten Slade and Eirlys Hunter

Seagull Seagull by Keiran Rynhart and James K Baxter

In My Heart by Christine Roussey and Jo Witek

Beautiful Whanganui by Lesley Stead.

What new releases are you looking forward to over the next few months?

Without a doubt, North & South: A Tale of Two Hemispheres by Sandra Morris (Walker Books). Sandra will launch her new book with us on 7 March, and at the same time exhibit illustrations from the book. Lockett Gallery is perfect for an event such as this. People are fascinated to see illustrations exhibited as works of art. The book being launched is given elevated status and it’s a winning combo.

Also coming up is Lesley Stead’s I Love Aotearoa – another black and white book for babies, following on from her debut black and white book, Beautiful Whanganui.

What do you wish was selling better?

Here at Paige’s Book Gallery, we can truthfully say there is no book that fits this category. Rather, we hold onto the belief there are owners for all our titles, and it’s only a matter of time before the right customer comes along to create a match made in heaven.

Share a nice story you have about matching a book to a customer/reader!

Mophead Tu: The Queen’s Poem has had wonderful match-ups with our grandparent sector (thank you to all grandparents…. they are on a mission to generate a love of books with their grandchildren/great-grandchildren and sometimes great-great-grandchildren). The Queen’s Poem contains a beautiful message and with its royal connection and wonderful illustrations, is an absolute winner.

The same sector has loved Beautiful Whanganui and we can truthfully say this book has been posted with pride to every imaginable corner of the world. For those who are unaware, Whanganui has recently been awarded the ‘Most Beautiful Small City in Aotearoa/New Zealand’ and once again the book is a perfect fit.

What do you wish publishers would publish?

From a bookshop’s perspective, we consider the publishers are doing a pretty good job – thank you publishers. It’s great to see increasing numbers of titles in Te Reo and we are loving the A3 hardbacks coming through. There’s some outside the square thinking, which we are giving the thumbs up to.

Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

Paige’s Book Gallery and Lockett Gallery are a much-loved and integral part of the wider Whanganui community and we welcome anyone who is visiting the area. If you would like to be on our mail-outs for upcoming events (there’s always plenty in the pipeline) email We’ll keep you in the loop.

Our philosophy is that it’s essential to immerse young people in books, starting with babies, and from that basis, there’s a strong chance the love of literature in its many forms, will follow each of these young people through their lives.

Over and out for the moment, with best wishes to all illustrators and authors for 2021, from Paige’s Book Gallery/Lockett Gallery.

Paige’s Book Gallery/ Lockett Gallery

60 Guyton Street


Lesley Stead
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