“Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

As we here in New Zealand celebrated Waitangi Day, the 174th anniversary of the signing of the founding document,  the Treaty at Waitangi in 1840.  I thought this would be a good opportunity to share a little history with you in the way of a picture book I came across in my local library recently.

Horeta and the Waka

HORETAWritten By:  Gordon Campbell

Illustrations by:   Zak Waipara

Published by:   Scholastics, New Zealand  2007

Ages:   3 – 8 years

Theme:  history, strangers, the unknown

Opening Lines:  “Look! Look!” called Horeta, pointing across the water.  His friends turned and stared in wonder.  A huge waka had sailed into the bay.  It had tall masts and many large white sails.

Synopsis:  The sighting of the first white man to land on New Zealand soil is told through the eyes of a Maori boy.  Like any young boy Horeta is curious about these strange-looking white people who paddle their strange little boat to shore from the large one.  They row backwards. “Do they have eyes in the back of their heads?” he wonders.   At first he hides and later he is frightened by the smoking stick these strange people carry and runs to tell his family and friends how he saw them kill a bird with it.  The Maoris at first believed the white people had magical powers but soon realised they also bought new ideas such as tools, clothing etc.

Why I like this:  Based on a true story passed on through generations, this is a lovely simply told look at the first landing of Captain James Cook and the first meeting with a Maori tribe.  It does not go into the battles or great details of what went on back then.  A lovely way to introduce the history of New Zealand to very young children and creat conversation.  The clear illustrations were done in ink and watercolour.  The book has a soft cover.

Resources/Findings:  The book, it appears, is slowly going out of print.  It seems there are only a few left.    Here…   http://www.wheelersbooks.com.au/books/9781869438227-horeta-me-te-waka/

Here is some information about the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, an agreement between the Maori and White people who first settled here…..   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waitangi_Day.

Here is a website about Waka’s, great if kids want to learn about the types of waka’s and how they were made.  http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/waka-canoes

A lovely thing that could be done alone, or as a school project is to build a Maori Pa… this is like a fortress that holds a small village of Maori houses inside.  Usually buildings and fences are made with small sticks/toothpicks on a paper-mache mountain.  Children have fun painting the mountainside and arranging the buildings they have made using glue.

Here is a website of traditional Maori games for children,  even the poi ….    http://www.hop.org.nz/rangatahi/maori-games.pdf

Pop over  and visit the lovely author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books.    Her blog is full of resources links and activities associated with the books reviewed by many authors.

About Diane Tulloch

Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
This entry was posted in Aotearoa, Children's literature, Picture Book Review and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to “Perfect Picture Book” – Friday

  1. clarbojahn says:

    Sounds like a lovely book about adventure and exploration and discovery. I Love historical picture books and learning through the eyes of a child. Thanks for introducing this book to us. 🙂

  2. Catherine Johnson says:

    I’ve been to the building where the treaty was signed. The trees there we’re beautiful. This is perfect for telling Matthew and Hannah about the place they used to live.

  3. I love it when you share books about New Zeland and its culture. I didn’t know Cook was the first to land there. Like the idea of the child telling the story through his perception.

  4. This sounds like a pretty cool book. I can imagine how scary it would be for those Maoris to see such strange beings. Some of those games look pretty fun! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Interesting to think about something so simple as a rowing style being “magic.” Looks like a good book. Thanks for sharing.

    • lol… yes as the Maoris row frontwards in their wakas (canoes), white men row backwards in their dingys (small boats). Another thing they thought strange was that the white people had many hair colourings. Maori were mainly black haired. Interesting!

  6. Joanna says:

    I still think it strange that whites have so many hair colorings! Great choice to educate kids about the beginnings of New Zealand.

  7. Thanks for sharing this, esp the pdf with all the games!

  8. This is the sort of book my kids would have loved – historical fiction, world-changing events, exploration…

  9. This brings back fond memories of my visit to New Zealand on my way home from Papua New Guinea as a short term missionary. I loved the culture, the people, and your beautiful country!

  10. Thanks, Diane. I always enjoy books that share the heritage of people.

  11. Darlene says:

    What a nice way to introduce history to young children, through the eyes of a young child. Happy Waitangi Day!

  12. I think I need to read this! 🙂 I love historical stories. Thanks for telling us about this one!

  13. Anne Mackle says:

    This sounds like a great way of making history fun for children.

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