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Debut Author Pens Bilingual Story Of Gender Fluidity, Diversity And The Power Of Poi

Publishing during Pride Month, Rere Atu Taku Poi! | Let my Poi Fly! is the story of a boy who learns that being different takes courage and makes us who we are.

Rangi loves doing haka but performing poi is his favourite — even though his classmates say it’s just for girls. When the lead poi performer falls sick before a school performance, Rangi has to take her place.

How will the other students and audience react – ‘Surely a boy can’t lead the poi?’ As Rangi steps on stage, the familiar movements of poi take him from scared and unsure to standing as his authentic self.

‘As a child I knew I was different, but I struggled to find answers. Kapa haka and poi were the only ways in which I felt the connection between my culture and my self,’ author Tangaroa Paul says.

‘This book, and Rangi’s journey of expressing who they are, is all about being bright, brave and beautiful!’

Written in te reo Māori and English (te reo appears first on the pages), Tangaroa’s story is beautifully illustrated by Rebecca Gibbs. Creative New Zealand generously supported the book’s publication, which was a collaboration between Oratia Books and Auckland Libraries Ngā Pataka Kōrero o Tamaki Makaurau.

A teacher resource for the book is available on the Oratia website. And scanning the QR code on the back cover takes the reader to YouTube videos with Tangaroa reading the book in Māori and English, and a poi performance.

The authors

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Tangaroa Paul (Te Whare Tawhito o Muriwhenua), a poi expert who identifies as gender-fluid, is a lecturer in te reo Māori at the Auckland University of Technology, where they have recently submitted a doctoral thesis in gender studies. Rere Atu Taku Poi! is Tangaroa’s first book.

Rebecca Gibbs (Rongowhakaata) has been a primary school teacher and gained a Bachelor of Design (VisCom) in 2015, since when she has worked in illustration and publishing. She lives in Christchurch.

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