by Rangi Matamua & Miriama Kamo
with Isobel Joy Te Aho-White
From the first sight, and touch for even the feel of it is seductive, I was in love with this beautiful book, published in good time for the first celebration of Matariki as a national public holiday,
My admiration grew as I read through the 80 pages, the first section of which gives a simple explanation of the cluster of stars we know here as Matariki, and the stories of the legendary figures which make it up. All are given their own story, placing them within the wider scope of Maori cosmology.
If you know any of the Matariki songs that have become popular over the past few years, you’ll find yourself singing to yourself as you turn the pages – Tipuānuku, Tipuārangi, Waitī, Waitā…
The accessible language of the text makes it especially suitable for children, but it should appeal to all ages, even up to grandparents. The conversational tone lends itself to reading aloud to little ones.
Each story is accompanied by stunning supporting illustrations – note the appropriate choice of colour in each. The only reservation I have here is, even though beautiful artistically, the coloured print of some of the text against the background artwork may be difficult to read by those with poor sight or in low light levels.
The first section, to page 37, deals with Maori lore, then it moves to corresponding stories of the same star cluster in other cultures in each inhabited continent. In the Pacific, we learn of Matariki equivalents in Cook Islands, Tahiti, Hawaii, and Australia. Asian legends are from Japan, China, and India. Further stories from Africa, Europe, Scandinavia, North and South America tell how the group is viewed in other cultures. Between them there are many similarities.
The book also includes a short glossary of terms used and an index for quick reference.
Full praise must be accorded to the team – authors, Rangi Matamua and Miriama Kamo, and illustrator Isobel Joy Te Aho-White. In spite of my slight reservation mentioned above, I’d like to nominate the publishing team for a design award. This is a volume that may be produced with children in mind, but it can take its place with pride on any coffee table in the country.
Authors: Rangi Matamua & Miriama Kamo, with Isobel Joy Te Aho-White
Publisher: Scholastic NZ