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Bond with teacher inspires te Reo and English picture book

Bond with teacher inspires Māori-language lecturer to create te Reo and English picture book, published this week for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori / Māori Language Week

One night in June 2016, Massey University language lecturer Darryn Joseph sat in a hospital room minding a teacher who had become a dear friend and mentor to him. Darryn wrote her a poem of appreciation, kissed her hand and said goodbye; the next day she passed away.

That poem is contained in Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna/Listen to your Ancestors, a picture book in te Reo Māori with English translation, publishing during Māori Language Week/Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.

The story follows a beloved teacher giving her pupils and granddaughter guidance by directing them to follow the examples of Māori gods and ancestors.

“Every teacher teaches you something, but a few special teachers leave lasting impressions that stay with you for life,” says Darryn.

The book is illustrated by emerging artist Munro Te Whata, who has vividly brought to life settings in a school, the outdoors and a rest home in a colourful and fun style.

Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna teaches the values represented by Māori gods and ancestors, and provides a much-needed tool for reading in te Reo. But at its heart this is a story of love and respect, harking back to the friendship that inspired its writing.


Darryn Joseph (Ngāti Maniapoto) is a senior lecturer in Māori language at Massey University, palmerston North, and the author of many books for Māori immersion education. Darryn is a trustee of Storylines and was a judge for the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Munro Te Whata (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou) is a dynamic young animator, artist and writer who has illustrated several books. He lives in Auckland.

Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna / Listen to your Ancestors

Written by Darryn Joseph and Illustrated by Munro Te Whata

Published by Oratia Books

ISBN: 978-0-947506-62-9 | RRP $24.99 | Hardback |270 x 210 mm | 32 pages colour


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