Traditional tale becomes bilingual book

Co-authors Vincent Olsen-Reeder and Hinemarie Burton with the book. Photos: Ryan Wood.

The traditional story told by Nga Potiki of how the mountains in the area came to be is now a bilingual picture book.

Nga Maunga Tohora (The Whale Mountains) aims to introduce new generations of young Tauranga Moana children to the history of the area, including some of the local kai to be found in the sea.

The book is co-authored by Vincent Olsen-Reeder and Hinemarie Burton, with illustrations by Tiare Dickson and Courtney Shepherd. It is published in conjunction with Inspired Kindergartens.

The book was launched this morning at Tahuwhakatiki Marae in Welcome Bay. Kindergarten kids helped bring the books onto the marae, where inside the guests were welcomed in the tradiitonal Maori manner.

Afterwards the authors spoke about the project, stressing that there were many edits and much consultation with Nga Potiki elders over their version of the story, to make sure it was right.

“It gives mana to the korero to know the tangata whenua have been involved every step of the way. It is respectful,” says Hine.

Vincent, who grew up outside of Tauranga, says it is a privilege to contribute something to his people in the form of the book's text.

“I just wrote down some words. Hine came and applied her whakaaro that drew on her upbringing in the area and also her expertise on how to write books kids love to read. I am so thankful to Hine for her energy and drive to complete the task.”

At the launch, copies were handed out to Inspired Kindergartens, three local kura (Otepou,Arataki, and Matapihi) and those involved in bringing the book to fruition, including Nga Potiki, Creative Bay of Plenty, and Kale Print.

The authors see the book as a first step in what will hopefully be a collection of first readers for local mokopuna.

“We have our own superheroes, our own villains and our own lessons about the world right here in Tauranga, where our feet hit the ground,” says Vincent.

“Me whakakorero i o tatou maunga korero.”

Copies of Nga Maunga Tohora will be available in libraries and kindergartens throughout the region.

Being welcomed onto the marae.

Handing out the books

Nga Maunga Tohora


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