Author uses Māori lore to inspire rangatahi

By Te Ao - Māori News

Author Ataria Sharman says Māori lore of ancient Aotearoa captivated her as she was writing the book, allowing her imagination to run wild.

“Sometimes, I'll be out in my garden and I'll imagine the patupaiarehe, the fairy people are there, and I mean I can't actually see them but it just feels magical to just imagine they're there.”

Sharman is a writer, editor, social entrepreneur and researcher who advocates for wāhine Māori and has recently published a new book for young readers.

‘Hine and the Tohunga Portal’ is a fast-paced fantasy adventure in which Hine and her brother Hōhepa enter an ancient world inhabited by Atua Māori (Māori deities) after passing through a portal.

Sharman feels that her editorial work helped her to become a better writer, and she hopes that ‘Hine and the Tohunga Portal’ will ultimately become a seven-book series to inspire rangatahi, similar to Harry Potter.

“Rangatahi deserve to see themselves reflected as tamariki Māori in our stories. So that's what made me turn to write fantasy," she says.

Sharman says she has always enjoyed children's and young adult fantasy, citing the thrills, life-or-death circumstances, and the maturation of heroines and heroes as reasons for writing the book for young rangatahi.

“Just like me, 20 years ago, who would have loved to read this and to be immersed in a world inspired by Māori concepts, narratives and characters, but weren't able to because this kind of literature wasn't widely available then,” Sharman says.

It is about infusing that magic into our tamariki's life, according to Sharman, and ancient Māori lore holds stories “that are inspired by something deeper, ancient narratives, and even archetypal characters like Kai, Hineteiwaiwa, and Tinirau,” she says

“It's even better when you can whakapapa back to those narratives, through your tūpuna and whakapapa. It's just that much more special. And so I think it's just so important and that's a big part of the theme that comes from this pukapuka as well.”