Topics: Education, Rereātea - Midday News

NZ's best te reo Māori children's book announced

By Jessica Tyson
  • Wellington

A book about friendship, courage and discovery has been announced as the country’s best children’s book in te reo Māori at the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults last night.

Tu Meke Tūī! by Malcolm Clarke and translated by Evelyn Tobin tells the story of two birds, Tere and Taitu.

“Tere the Tui and Taitu the Takahe are two very different sorts of birds: one loves to flit and twirl about in the sky, while the other prefers to rustle around in the undergrowth," says the book's summary.

“Tu Meke Tui is a story of friendship, courage and discovering that sometimes it’s our differences which make us truly special.”

The idea for Meke Tūī was born out of Malcolm’s appreciation for New Zealand's native wildlife and his desire to expose young readers to the wonders of the natural world.  It was illustrated by FLOX, also known as Hayley King.

Te reo winners. Source: 2018 New Zealand Book Awards

The panel of judges convened by Te Rōpū Whakahau particularly praised the expertise of translator Tobin, who they said captured the breath and spirit of the story skilfully, locating it within a Māori viewpoint.

Meanwhile, the book Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story by Christchurch writer and illustrator Gavin Bishop received the top honour at the awards in Wellington.

The judges describe it as a book for every home, school and library, which can be read and re-read by all ages.

“It’s masterful in its execution – a work of art that bears repeated and thoughtful reading and viewing of its vibrant and informative illustrations, a book of enduring significance in the canon of New Zealand children’s literature. We’ve seen nothing quite like it in New Zealand children’s publishing,” says convener of judges Jeannie Skinner.

The full list of winners are:

Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award $7,500 Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story, Written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Penguin Random House).

Picture Book Award $7,500 I Am Jellyfish, Written and illustrated by Ruth Paul (Penguin Random House).

Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction $7500 How to Bee, by Bren MacDibble (Allen & Unwin).

Copyright Licencing Award for Young Adult Fiction $7500 In the Dark Spaces, by Cally Black (Hardie Grant Egmont).

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction $7500 Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story, Written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Penguin Random House).

Russell Clark Award for Illustration $7500 Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts Written and illustrated by Craig Phillips (Allen & Unwin).

Best First Book Award $2000 My New Zealand Story: Dawn Raid, by Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith (Scholastic New Zealand).

Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for the best book in te reo Māori $7500 Tu Meke Tūī!, by Malcolm Clarke, translated Evelyn Tobin, illustrated by FLOX (aka Hayley King) (Mary Egan Publishing).