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Whakapapa Connection Unlocks New Fantasy-adventure Novel

What Would You Do If You Found A Mermaid Washed Up On The Beach?

This question was the inspiration that sparked Christchurch based author and secondary school teacher Tania Roxborogh to write her new fantasy-adventure novel Charlie Tangaroa and the Creature from the Sea.

The story is set in Tolaga Bay, a small town on the East Coast of the North Island of Aotearoa. Thirteen-year-old one-legged Charlie and his brother, Robbie, are on a beach clean-up and find a ponaturi – a mermaid – washed up on the beach. Creatures are fleeing the sea because a port being built in the bay is polluting the ocean. This reignites an ancient feud between gods Tāne and Tangaroa, and their fury breaks out in storms, earthquakes and huge seas. This throws the human world and the realm of the gods into chaos. The ponaturi believes that Charlie is the only one who can stop the destruction because his stump is a tohu, a sign, that he straddles both worlds. So begins Charlie’s journey to find a way to settle the feud and discover why he is the one for the task.

The start of the story came to Tania in 2008. She wrote the first two chapters but was unable to progress any further. ‘It was as if the universe was saying, you’re not ready to write this story yet,’ she recalls.

As the years went on, she realised that this story was interwoven with her whakapapa connection to the East Coast iwi of Ngāti Porou and that she needed to learn te reo Māori and more about the history of Aotearoa. ‘In 2015, Charlie’s voice returned and I travelled to the East Coast where I was “given” the rest of the story,’ she says.

Tania hopes that this story provides children of Aotearoa and the world with a glimpse into the rich tapestry of narrative. The story weaves many themes, including traditional stories and knowledge, care for the environment, having courage and overcoming obstacles, family and brotherly relationships, and community.

Charlie Tangaroa and the Creature from the Sea is aimed at children aged eight to twelve.

Two book launch events will be held on Thursday, 24 September at Lincoln High School and on Monday, 28 September at The Children’s Bookshop in Kilbirine, Wellington.

© Scoop Media

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