Taniwha includes Ma¯ori
The Taniwha in our Backyard By Malcolm Paterson, illustrated by Martin Bailey, Oratia Books, $21.99
This children’s book is something a bit special.
The story is delightful and well suited to an older child who is becoming a competent reader and likes a good story.
What makes this one different though, is that it uses a lot of Ma¯ori words throughout the English, side by side. Many words and phrases are familiar, like mı¯haro ke¯ [amazing], awa [stream], pakeke [adults], karakia [prayer], Whaea [Auntie].
And if they’re not familiar, the English context makes them easy to guess for both adults and children. If you can’t guess, the phrases, all useful, are at the bottom of each page in small letters for cheating.
The story is interesting — Tui and his wha¯nau go to the south Kaipara to visit their uncle and aunt. As they explore they learn about kaitiakitanga [stewardship], Ma¯ui dolphins and of course the taniwha.
There’s some helpful information about kauri dieback and how to prevent it, cultural norms, geology and even a bit about Malay. What makes this special is incorporating Ma¯ori language into everyday conversation, just as it should be, along with English. My grandkids do it all the time. This is the third in the Sharing Our Stories series about NZ heritage. Ka pai!