Available in bookshops nationwide.
Rebecca Beyer and Linley Wellington are two New Plymouth authors helping to bring back the Kokako to Taranaki.
There was a time when Kokako had no predators and could fly freely, but then the rat and possum were introduced. Numbers were severely affected with this native bird species nearly being wiped out to the point of extinction.
This is a story of Tamanui, a Kokako who tries to fly to the top of the tallest tree and is always showing off. His brother Poutama defended him telling the others that Tamanui was clever and brave. The only time the young birds were still was when they were listening to Nanny Kokako. She would tell them stories of their heroic ancestors who came from far away to make their home in the Taranaki bush.
Rats and possums came to New Zealand on boats and as a result there were less and less birds. The Kokako numbers drastically declined because they couldn’t fly well and built their nests on low branches so they were easy prey. The rats ate the birds and possums ate the eggs. Both having sharp teeth and strong claws they made short work of the birds. The birdsong of the forest was quieted.
Further into the story, we learn of how man intervened to save this wonderful bird before it became lost forever.
Reading this to 4-year-old Abby I had lots of questions about why the rats and possums came to New Zealand and why they liked hunting and eating the Kokako. We had a long discussion on why we needed to protect native birds from predators. “What does predator mean Grandma?” My explanation seemed to satisfy her.
Royalties from this book will go towards the Tiaki Te Mauri o Parininihi Trust. This Trust was set up by Ngati Tama and aims to catch predators and re-establish the native bird in the White Cliffs area.
This is a great book to introduce young readers to the idea that as New Zealanders, we need to do everything in our power to protect our surviving native bird species. The illustrations by Andrew Burdan are wonderful and work well with the story.
Reviewed by Christine Frayling
Tamanui the Brave Kokako of Taranaki
by Rebecca Beyer & Linley Wellington
Illustrated by Andrew Burdan
Published by Huia Publishers