The Marae Visit is a brilliant, cheerful introduction to what children can expect on their first visit to a marae. It feels like this book should have always been on our bookshelf – and I can’t believe it has taken this long for it to appear!
The story follows a primary class through their day at the marae. We meet the class at the front gate as they gather together to be formally welcomed. The authors spend time gently walking the reader through the pōwhiri. Attention is drawn to tikanga and the reader gets a clear picture of what to expect and what to do. The pōwhiri ends and the class disperses to sing, dance with poi and make kites.
Children will easily find themselves in the multicultural illustrations. Nikki Slade Robinson captures the children’s bravado and hesitancy as they go through the unfamiliar process of the pōwhiri. We see their confidence and smiles grow throughout the story. The warmth and wairua you will find on a marae is beautifully depicted throughout the story.
The text is written in both English and te reo Māori; and well designed to read in either or both languages easily. The authors have kept key Māori words in the English text too, such as tangata whenua, hongi, wharenui and kaumātua. These words deserve to be known by English speakers and are contextualised for meaning.
Finally, the children gather for the poroporoaki, saying goodbye and promising to return. My class would like to return to the marae with them and join in the fun too. The authors have created an honest, uplifting portrayal of a class visit to their local marae that will be welcome in classrooms around Aotearoa.
Reviewed by Sara Croft
The Marae Visit
by Rebecca Beyer & Linley Wellington, Illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson
Published by Duck Creek Press