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Kia Kaha: A Storybook of Māori Who Changed the World by Stacey Morrison and Jeremy Sherlock



Continuing their series celebrating people who’ve made a difference to our world (Go Girl; Oh Boy), Puffin has now produced a pukapuka that champions Māori, enlisting radio and TV broadcaster Stacey Morrison and freelance publisher/writer Jeremy Sherlock to create the type of compendium they themselves would’ve found inspiring as a child.


Narrowing down the shortlist was a tricky task, as Morrison relates in her intro, hinting there could be a sequel. The dazzling diversity of Māori here means any child will find someone they can relate to. There’s comedian Billy T, the famous explorer Kupe, master carver Pineāmine Taiapa, our first transgender politician Georgina Beyer, writer Patricia Grace, midwives Mere Harper and Ria Tikini, judge Sir Joe Williams, to name but a few.


Fittingly for a book about a culture which promotes the notion of whānaungatanga - forming and maintaining relationships and strengthening ties between kin and communities - it’s not just individuals who are celebrated: there’s WW2’s 28th Māori Battalion, who were much admired by their enemies; activist group Ngā Tamatoa, who fought for Te Reo to be taught in schools; the Māori Women’s Welfare League, who rallied for support following the fallout of Māori rural-urban drift; the Māori All Blacks.


I love the mix of household names - Dame Whina Cooper, Stan Walker, Willie Apiata, Michael Campbell - and those that deserve to be household names, such as the gifted Tainui leader Te Puea Hērangi, who established the Tūrangawaewae marae in Ngāruawāhia; tennis champ Ruia Morrison-Davy - the first Māori and the first wahine from Aotearoa to make it to Wimbledon; suffragist Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, who fought for Māori women to have the vote and to sit as Members of the Māori parliament.


Written in an accessible style, each story is prefaced with a beautiful, inspirational whakatauki (proverb) and each person featured is stunningly and uniquely rendered by one of a talented collection of Māori illustrators. Gift it for Christmas for the child, tween or teenager in your life - or yourself!


Reviewer: Stacey Anyan

Puffin/Penguin Random House