Māori language books wow judges in Children's Book Awards

Patricia Grace, author of Haka / Whiti te Rā! (copyright Norm Heke)
Patricia Grace, author of Haka / Whiti te Rā! (copyright Norm Heke)

Haka, by renowned author Patricia Grace, has been chosen as a finalist for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

With striking imagery from award-winning illustrator Andrew Burdan, the story tells of how the great Ngāti Toa chief Te Rauparaha came to compose the famous haka 'Ka Mate, Ka Mate'. Haka is listed in the Picture Book Award, and the Māori language version, Whiti te Rā!, is a finalist for Te Kura Pounamu and the Children’s Choice Awards. 

“New Zealand publishing for our children and young adults is going from strength to strength. Year upon year we see the bar raised not only in the writing and illustration quality, but also in the look and feel of a book. Reading is such a tactile activity, and we’re pleased to see the publishers have paid particular attention to the feel of a book in a reader’s hands,” says judge convenor and teacher-librarian, Fiona Mackie.

For the three Huia Publishers’ authors, one translator and one illustrator, having their names on this year’s finalist list is an exciting achievement.

“We are thrilled that Tamanui te Kōkako Morehu o Taranaki is a finalist,” say authors Linley Wellington and Rebecca Beyer of New Plymouth. “The story of Tamanui and the project to repatriate kōkako to Taranaki is one that we are passionate about telling.”

Tamanui te Kōkako Morehu o Taranaki tells the tale of Tamanui the last surviving kōkako from the Taranaki bush. It was published in collaboration with Puke Ariki, where Tamanui is displayed, to educate New Zealand about the endangerment of kōkako. Tamanui te Kōkako Morehu o Taranaki has been shortlisted for Te Kura Pounamu Award and the Children’s Choice Award.

As illustrator for both books Andrew Burdan said that he was very grateful to be part of the process, “It is a rare opportunity to work on such wonderful projects during a career and I am pleased that the hard work put in by everyone is being recognised through these nominations.”

Haka and Tamanui te Kōkako Morehu o Taranaki

The judges agreed that the three Te Kura Pounamu finalists’ books uplift and enrich te reo Māori literature. Convenor of the judging panel Riki-Lee Saua says, “These three books stood out for their inspiring and relevant content, stunning illustrations and excellence in the quality of Māori language translations.”

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults promotes excellence in literature for children and young adults. The awards ceremony will be held at Circa Theatre, Wellington on August 8 2016. More information about the books can be found on the Huia website www.huia.co.nz