Retelling of Māori creation story in new book

By Stefan Dimitrof

Award-winning Māori illustrator Mat Tait (Ngāti Apa ki te rātō) has made his own Māori creation story for a new generation of young New Zealanders.

The book, Te Wehenga, is a retelling of the separation of Ranginui the sky father and Papatūānuku the earth mother.

Tait said he wanted to create the book for tamariki but also wanted it to be a book for anyone else.

“Back in the day our tipuna probably didn’t tell stories or versions of stories just for children; they were stories for everybody”.

Tait said that referring to purakau as myth and legend was saying that a story has died whereas the story that he was presenting is "very much alive" and "tells Māori about who they are".

“There are a lot of lessons and a lot to teach us.”

The book is presented bilingually inboth Māori and English, with the Māori language difficulty level in the book being for higher-level readers.