Kay Benseman and her niece and nephews have been our main reviewers of books in te reo Māori for 2018. Kay tells us her top te reo selections for this gift-giving season.
Kiwi Tahi rāua ko Kiwi Rua, nā Stephanie Thatcher i tuhi, nā Ngaere Roberts ngā kōrero i whakamāori
This tale of two kiwi who wake up their forest friends to play with them all night long, is bright and cheerful and has an easy appeal to young readers. The illustrations are really likeable and we can recognise a number of the cute characters that featured in Stephanie Thatcher’s earlier book (also translated into te reo Māori) Ka Hīkoi a Pūtangitangi / Pūtangitangi Walks.
A wonderful aspect, whether intentional or not, is that the main characters do not have a gender assigned to them. When I read the English text, there are no gendered personal pronouns. This is one of the many delights of te reo Māori, as this distinction simply doesn’t feature in the language. This makes Kiwi Tahi rāua ko Kiwi Rua / Kiwi One and Kiwi Two a wonderful book for anyone wanting to even out the gender imbalance in children’s literature that their tamariki are exposed to.
Kiwi Tahi rAua ko Kiwi Rua
nā Stephanie Thatcher i tuhi, nā Ngaere Roberts ngā kōrero i whakamāori
Published by Scholastic
Te Pohū, nā Sacha Cotter i tuhi, nā Kawata Teepa (Tūhoe) i whakamāori, nā Josh Morgan (Te Aitangā-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata) ngā pikitia i tā.
Ka wani kē! What a delight! This new book from Huia Publishers, also released in English as The Bomb, is a funny, insightful tale about one tamaiti’s endeavour to perfect the best bomb ever. The illustrations are equally wonderful, filled with small details and variety, sweeping you up into the story.
Two highlights; the rhyme and rhythm of the original is maintained in the te reo translation, while it’s got lots of kupu hou, it’s a pleasure to read (suitable for mid-primary immersion reading level). I was also happy to see a main character that isn’t confined to gender norms either in behaviour or appearance - how refreshing!
nā Kawata Teepa (Tūhoe) i whakamāori, nā Josh Morgan (Te Aitangā-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata) ngā pikitia i tā
Published by Huia Publishers
Tu Meke Tūī, nā Malcolm Clarke i tuhi, nā Evelyn Tobin i whakamāori
This book introduces readers to the particular strength of the takahē and also showcases the stunning artwork of Flox (a.k.a. Hayley King). Her glorious stencils more often grace walls than the pages of books but they really make this story zing.
The translation really captures the phrasing of the original, introducing onomatopoeic lines like 'ka kopakopa, ka kapakapa, ka korohi a Tere' (‘with a flounce and a flutter, Tere tooted…’), enabling first language Māori readers to soak up delicious kupu and truly get a feel for the story. Tu Meke Tūī includes a glossary as well as an activity page directing children to spot the native creatures hidden in the illustrations. Readers are also encouraged to learn more about our natural environment from Forest and Bird.
Tu Meke Tui
nā Malcolm Clarke i tuhi, nā Evelyn Tobin i whakamāori
Published by Little Love
Hāpata, te Kurī Māia o te Moana, nā Robyn Belton i tuhi, nā Ross Calman i whakamāoritia (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whāoa)
This is a brilliant te reo Māori version of Robyn Belton’s tale of courage. It’s a New Zealand classic, based on the true story of Herbert, a beloved dog who was lost at sea for over 30 hours and then rescued! Ross Calman's translation is clever and evocative.
My young son loved the tension of the tale and that the main character was a kurī. Throughout the book, he was enthralled and desperate to discover the fate of this brave wee dog. The level of te reo Māori is well-suited to immersion tamariki a few years into kura, or second language learners with intermediate fluency. The vocabulary isn’t particularly complex but there’s the opportunity to learn some new kupu, my two favourites are ‘kōnewhanewha’ and ‘haumūmū’.
HApata, te KurI MAia o te Moana
nā Robyn Belton i tuhi, nā Ross Calman i whakamāoritia
Published by Potton & Burton
Paraweta, nā Stephanie Blake i tuhi, nā Karena Kelly i whakamāoritia
What a hilarious, gorgeous translation by Karena Kelly of this popular Gecko Press publication. She has previously translated Julia Donaldson’s wonderful He Wāhi i te Puruma. This is a really fun book that is easy to read and understand and is perfect for beginner te reo speakers and very young children.
I’ve found that certain authors and types of stories seem to more naturally flow in the Māori language, which may depend on how the translator responds to them. Karena Kelly seems to have written this from the perspective of a māmā who regularly shares pukapuka with her own tamaiti. However, I also think that this particular book’s irreverent humour is especially well suited to te reo Māori.
nā Stephanie Blake i tuhi, nā Karena Kelly i whakamāoritia
Published by Gecko Press
Te Hīnga Ake a Māui i te Ika Whenua o Aotearoa, he mea kōrero anō nā Donovan Bixley, he mea whakamāori e Darryn Joseph rāua ko Keri Opai
This vibrant and funny book is really appealing to young readers, with endless visual details to pore over, much like Donovan Bixley’s other books. The colour palette of the illustrations and the cartoon-like depiction of the main characters will appeal to any young fans of Disney’s Moana movie. Lots of speech bubbles give it a comic book feel, too.
Bixley has retold the famous pakiwaitara of Māui fishing up Aotearoa with the support of Dr. Darryn Joseph (who also translated this book, along with Keri Opai). He has done this in a manner which honours this very important and illustrious Maori tūpuna and shows his ‘real desire to honour the cultural significance and importance of Māui’.
Donovan Bixley hints in the last page of his book that there are more tales of Māui’s exploits to come, let’s hope that these too are published in te reo Māori, their language of origin.
Te Hinga Ake a Maui i te Ika Whenua o Aotearoa
he mea kōrero anō nā Donovan Bixley, he mea whakamāori e Darryn Joseph rāua ko Keri Opai
Published by Upstart Press Ltd
Ngā Whetū Matariki Whanakotia, nā Miriama Kamo i tuhi, nā Ngaere Roberts ngā kōrero i whakamāori
This book is a delight to read in te reo Māori and Zak Waipara’s illustrations are evocative without being too moody. It is a playful tale and the colourful pages set the scene for a mystical night time adventure. The te reo Māori translation by Ngaere Roberts really does justice to Miriama Kamo’s storytelling and is easy to read and understand.
I enjoyed this interpretation of the recent inclusion of two more stars to our Matariki constellation; Pōhutukawa and Hiwa-i-te-rangi. The glossary at the back is a really helpful inclusion and the English publication has footnotes for the te reo Māori vocabulary that has been delightfully scattered throughout the story. As Kristin Smith discovered, this story is born out of Kamo’s own childhood experiences with her kaumātua and set on whenua very close to her heart.
Nga Whetu Matariki Whanakotia
nā Miriama Kamo i tuhi, nā Ngaere Roberts ngā kōrero i whakamāori
Published by Scholastic New Zealand