Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A new take on classic Māui myth hits the bookshops today

How to tell a great traditional story in a way that can connect with young readers today in both Māori and English?

That was the challenge Oratia Books' Peter Dowling put to author Tim Tipene when explaining the concept for a series of books that would honour indigenous stories and languages in a modern context.

Tim’s response forms his tenth book, an imaginative retelling of Māui catching the sun – one of the great foundation myths of Māori culture.

In his version, Māui is a pre-teen who lives with his mum and four older brothers in a city where life is tough, in part because there’s never enough time in the day to get things done.

Māui – Sun Catcher follows Māui devsing a plan, driving with his brothers to the pit where the sun lives, and catching him in ropes of woven flax.

The trickster Māui, who speaks in rhyme, alternately charms and threatens the sun:
My ropes will slow you down.
You will drift across the sky
And people will see my ropes reaching down
Whenever you’re up high.

Bringing the text to life are vivid colour drawings by widely published illustrator and animator Zak Waipara, who has created a feel that is both contemporary and classic in this classy hardback.

The bilingual book features English and Māori in differently shaded type on each spread. Translations are by prominent musician and academic Rob Ruha.

Collaboration has been key to the series, Indigenous Voices – which has developed in part through creative input from a range of international publishers, including Mexican children’s book specialist Miriam Martinez and Oratia’s Editorial Director Carolyn Lagahetau.

So while it stands on its own and will be available across New Zealand, Māui – Sun Catcher is also a pilot for telling indigenous stories to readers worldwide.

Māui – Sun Catcher  |  ISBN: 978-0-947506-14-8  |  RRP $24.99
Hardback, 270 x 210 mm, 32 pages colour

Rob Ruha
Tim Tipene
Zak Waipara

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