Five Books to read for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori

Five Books to read for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori

This week is Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori – Māori Language Week. Last year saw the historic Te Pire mō Te Reo Māori / Māori Language Bill. This year's theme is 'Kia ora te reo.' Here are our picks for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, from books for those fluent in te reo Māori, to books that will help with your pronunciation of Māori place names. Kia ora!

Māui: Sun Catcher by Tim Tipene, illustrated by Zak Waipara

Tipene and Waipara's modern Māui is an intermediate-school boy who lives with his Mum and three older brothers in a city where the day is never long enough to get things done. Māui grasps the mantle: he tells his Mum he's going to catch the Sun. With their woven flax net, the brothers drive to the pit where the Sun lives, and make their play to slow the day.

Māui: Sun Catcher is a vibrant, modern and bilingual retelling of this traditional story (the book was translated by Rob Ruha and features Māori and English on the same page). With his superhero hoodie outfit and fish hook hung low across his hips, Māui has been brought into the 21st century. I'll be fighting my kid to read this one.

Tū: He Pakimaero nā Patricia Grace

Tū: He Pakimaero is the te reo translation of the award-winning novel , and is available as an e-book from Huia. The story follows Tū, the only survivor from his family of the three young men who went to war. Through the pages of his war journal Tū faces the past, tells his story about the impact of war on his family, and what really happened as the Māori Battalion fought in Italy during World War Two.

To write the story Grace drew on the war experiences of her father and relatives (she was seven when her father joined the 28th Māori Battalion reinforcements in Italy in 1944), and a central question of the novel is why so many young Māori men joined the war effort for a society that had yet to consider Māori equal to Pākehā. An Aotearoa classic.

Māori Place Names: Their Meanings and Origins by A. W. Reed

This book is a beautiful way to get to know more about Aotearoa, and I can imagine taking it on a roadtrip. Pronounce and understand Māori place names with this new edition of a classic guide. The book answers questions such as why do Whangarei, Tauranga, Motueka and Timaru have the names they do? Why is there confusion and conflict about the spelling of Whanganui and Rimutaka?

Māori Place Names also includes some nifty maps showing principal names, as well as the illustrations from the original 1950 edition by renowned artist James Berry. Essential reading in order to show basic respect when speaking te reo Māori.

The Legend of the Seven Whales of Ngai Tahu Matawhaiti / Te Pakiwaitara o nga Tahora Tokowhitu retold and illustrated by Mere Whaanga-Schollum

This is a beautiful book! Originally published by Mahia Publishers in 1988 and then by Scholastic NZ Ltd in 1990, Te Pakiwaitara o nga Tahora Tokowhitu tells how the islands east of Wairoa came to be. Ngāi Tahu Matawhāiti, a sub-tribe of Ngāti Kahungunu, believe that the seven hills still visible near Whakakī Lagoon, east of Wairoa, were once seven whales.

Mere Whaanga-Schollum made the commitment to her father Te Hore (Horace) Epanaia Whaanga that this story would be published. Whaanga-Schollum then took on the role of writer and illustrator, and her father retold her the story in te reo. They agreed that both languages would be included in the finished book, which is for reading levels 8+, but we all know that means adults too.

Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua nā Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira

This science fantasy novel written by Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira and published by Huia follows four teenagers living on Rēhua, a planet settled after Earth is destroyed by ecological disasters and global war. The four raise hōkio, giant mystical birds, which take them on flights to explore their new world. On one flight, they discover an island with another colony of people, and here, they are given a quest to interpret hieroglyphic messages drawn on cave walls. Deciphering these symbols leads them to appease the feared tipua wheke, a gargantuan octopus, and help the Tūrehu, fair-skinned sea fairies, who have discovered a way to return to Earth.

The book is filled with maps and illustrations by award-winning designer Sam Bunny, and Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua won the 2012 NZ Post Children’s Book Award for Best Picture Book. So good.

Feature Image: Marc Wathieu | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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