Book Review: The Marae Visit, by Rebecca Beyer & Linley Wellington, illustrated by Nikki Slade Robinson

Available in bookshops nationwide from 12 April. 

cv_the_marae_visitThe 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
ISBN 9781927305539

Book Review: Tamanui the Brave Kokako of Taranaki, by Rebecca Beyer & Linley Wellington

cv_tamanui_brave_kokakoAvailable 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
ISBN 9781775502067