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Every once in a while, a dolphin will come to the island beside Te Ara A Paikea (The Pathway of the Whales) at Mahia. It will leap and play with people, bring gifts, and sing songs. The story was inspired by the real dolphin Moko who lived and played there from 2007 to 2009.
Award-winning author Mere Whaanga tells a story of land, sea and seasons; of living creatures and family ties, and the songs that connect us all.
The book is presented in both languages, Te Reo Maori and English, with the two texts alongside each other. It is also available in hardback edition.
What a fantastic idea! The twins are on the way to becoming fully bilingual, and having a book like this is so good because little ones often want their favourite stories read more than once - and this means they can have it once in each language.
Teina took the book and busied herself looking through the pictures before we had all organised ourselves to read it together. She liked the pictures and I have to say I agree with her - the predominant shades are blues and greens, perfectly in keeping for a book about a sea creature. The drawings are skilfully interwoven with the text so that they spill over both pages, encompassing both the Maori and the Pakeha.
Once we were all piled on the sofa - Tuakana, Mr Seven, Miss Five, Teina and me - we began the story. I read it to them in English the first time through, then a second time in Te Reo. There were the usual holdups as we went along - they thought it was very funny that Rua was a brother rather than a sister as I have a niece called Rua, and Miss Five thought that one of the drawings of Potiki was really Teina, so we all had to laugh at that.
It was not long before they were all feeling sorry for poor old Potiki who was never old enough to do Big Boy stuff. When his brothers were horrible to him, the children became angry and said they were glad that he had run away and found a new life for himself. They thought it was unfair that his brothers were so mean to him. Of course, they are always totally supportive of their own siblings - but I wisely said nothing!
I would like to make special mention of the introduction. When I read it to them, they were all taken by the second line "ka whiowhio mai te hau". Tuakana started repeating the words and reciting them in a sort of echo. Then the other three started to repeat them too. There was a kind of magic for them in this small section of the poem and it resonated. It was a sweet and completely impromptu reaction.
I love the way that the story is based on a real dolphin and a real event. It makes a story special when it is situated in places that some of the readers may have visited, and its New Zealand ties are emphasised through its use of the Maori language and its links to other legends of our country. Our children are lucky to have access to books like this that echo our heritage.
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