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
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.