Twin passions for a teen author
A Kerikeri teenager has combined concerns about the environment and the need to preserve te reo Ma¯ori in a bilingual children’s book about plastic pollution of the oceans.
Alex Edwards, 17, has just published Trevor the Trevally in a Plastic Ocean or A¯ rewa te Araara i te Moana Parahitiki.
The Year 13 Kerikeri High School student wrote the book in English, illustrated it with her own photos, and had it translated into Ma¯ori by her mum’s colleagues in the Ministry of Education, Mark Scott (Whanga¯rei), Nora Rameka (Takou Bay), Tui Mathews and Te Riini Henare (Kaikohe).
“I was becoming concerned that there weren’t any resources in te reo about plastic in our oceans. I’m also concerned that we can lose the language if we only educate kids about world issues in English,” Alex said. The keen swimmer and spear fisher said the book was fiction because children responded better to stories than to having instructions drilled into them.
The story follows two children who are confronted by Trevor the Trevally, Guardian of the Bay, after they discard ice block wrappers at the beach. Trevor, or A¯ rewa, then takes the children on an underwater journey in which they see first-hand the effects rubbish has on marine life.
Before printing the book Alex asked children to read it to make sure they liked the story and understood the message.
She produced it under the Young Enterprise Scheme, where students learn about business by starting their own. She funded the first print run of 100 with pre-sales to friends, school libraries and the public at a trade fair at Kerikeri’s Packhouse Market.
The book costs $25, with $1 going to Experiencing Marine Reserves, a Northland-based marine education trust. She’s already planning a second print run.
Alex, who is Nga¯puhi through her father, is planning a second book about over-fishing. She plans to study environmental science and commerce at Otago.
Kerikeri teenager Alex Edwards with her newly published bilingual book, A¯ rewa te Araara i te Moana Parahitiki / Trevor the Trevally in a Plastic Ocean.