Chil­dren’s tuna tale still res­onates

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By NATALIE MAR­SHALL

It’s rare to find a story set in your own neigh­bour­hood, so it’s not sur­pris­ing that Porirua school chil­dren have shown en­thu­si­asm for Wa­ter­cress Tuna and the Chil­dren of Cham­pion Street for nearly 30 years.

The book, first pub­lished in 1984, was writ­ten by Pa­tri­cia Grace and il­lus­trated by Robyn Kahukiwa. Both have links with the area. It tells of an eel (tuna) with a magic throat that leaves its home in Can­nons Creek and bounces over the tav­ern, shop­ping cen­tre and pri­mary school to visit 10 chil­dren who live in Cham­pion St.

The eel gives each child a gift that rep­re­sents their eth­nic­ity, af­ter which the chil­dren and their neigh­bours dance all day and night. The story cel­e­brates the area’s cul­tural di­ver­sity and com­mu­nity spirit.

In Fe­bru­ary 1985, chil­dren held a powhiri in the Can­non Creek School hall to launch the book. On the day of the launch these five chil­dren ( three of whom had char­ac­ters based on them) posed for the pho­tog­ra­pher in a re­cre­ation of the book’s cover. They are hold­ing an eel made of pa­per and fab­ric.

Al­most 30 years later the book is still in print and the story still hooks lo­cal school chil­dren. Stone sculp­tures in­spired by Wa­ter­cress Tuna stand over the road from the school and Room 7 chil­dren have cre­ated a web­site about these sculp­tures and the book. It’s on liv­ingher­itage. org. nz, fol­low the schools link to Can­nons Creek.

Chil­dren’s art­work based on the story dec­o­rates the Can­nons Creek School hall and li­brary.

For photo or­ders, visit the Time­frames data­base: find.natlib.govt.nz

Photo: IAN MACK­LEY DO­MIN­ION POST COL­LEC­TION (ATL REF: EP/ 1985/1011/17A-F)

The one that didn’t get away: Cham­pion Street chil­dren pose with the Wa­ter­cress Tuna, Fe­bru­ary 1985. From left, Onekura John, Ser­ena

Beirne, An­thony Tini­rau, Matthew Aiono and Kim Lis­ter.

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