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New children's books present fresh approach to NZ history

In a fresh approach to aspects of Aotearoa history, two new children’s books launched this week, Māui’s Taonga Tales and its te reo Māori companion He Paki Taonga i a Māui, present vividly illustrated and lively stories associated with some of taonga held at Aotearoa New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa.

Told through the voice of pūkōrero, or storyteller, Māui, the great Pacific hero and trickster, the stories are from both long ago and recent times, and were chosen in consultation with Te Papa’s mātauranga Māori curators and the relevant iwi. They range from how Ruhia’s kaitaka, or cloak, saved the life of a young boy and why the band Herbs wrote a song about nuclear testing in the Pacific, to Huria Matenga and the Shipwreck, Rata and the Children of Tāne, Willie Apiata and the Tough Decision, Hinemoa and Tūtānekai, Te Paea and the Ghost Waka, Kahe’s Epic Swim, Hēni and the Battle of Gate Pa, Kupe and the Giant Wheke, and Tāne and the Kete of Knowledge.

Each tale is told via illustrations created by eight of Aotearoa’s best young Māori artists, some of which illustrated stories from their own iwi. The book is linked to the animated TV series ‘He Paki Taonga i a Māui’, funded by Te Mangai Paho and streamed on Māori TV On Demand.


The books evolved out of an animated television series, made by production company Production Shed, which started airing on Māori TV On Demand in late September. The stories were developed by former Te Papa Senior Writer and He Paki Taonga i a Māui co-producer David Brechin-Smith and Te Papa Te Reo Writer, Ranea Aperahama, with the help of writers Victoria Cleal, Matthew Grainger, Frances Samuel and Jen Craddock and translator Stephanie Tibble. The tales were illustrated by Munro Te Whata, Te Hana Goodyer, Izzy Joy Te Aho-White,

Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho, Josh Morgan, Miriama Grace-Smith, Ariki Brightwell and Reweti Arapere.

He Paki Taonga i a Māui | Māui’s Taonga Tales: A treasury of stories from Aotearoa and the Pacific

Published by Te Papa Press, HB, $29.99

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