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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Matariki by Kitty Brown and Kirsten Parkinson

How can we celebrate Matariki? Let's look to the stars!

From the creators of the gorgeous Reo Pēpi series, Kitty Brown and Kirsten Parkinson take readers on a journey to make their Matariki celebrations sparkle.

As the country prepares to celebrate our first Matariki public holiday and te mātahi o te tau, the new year, this new picture book will help our younger generation understand the significance of the time. The book explores the nine stars of Matariki in rich, detailed imagery and text in both te reo Māori and English. While aimed at younger readers - about three to 10 years old - it encourages all of us to remember, celebrate and reflect at this important time of the year.

The book opens with double-spread illustrations that express the essence of each star within the cluster. There's no words, just lovely detailed pictures that invite conversation and questions.

Of course, different iwi and hapu have different understandings of the time around Matariki, so by creating a wordless picture book, the pair allow it to be open-ended, encouraging readers to continue on a learning pathway.

I read this to a school group, aged between five and eight, of all different backgrounds and experiences. Every child was able to take part in the conversation, participating and contributing and reflecting on their own practices. Matariki will be a fantastic addition to any classroom - there's so many opportunities to cover the breadth of the curriculum with this one pukapuka.

You don't have to know anything about Matariki yourself to take part in the conversation on these wordless pages. The pictures do a wonderful job at guiding you.

However, if you want to check in first, the second part of the book features three stars per page, alongside what each represents and some easy ideas on how people might like to celebrate Matariki. The ideas revolve around three touchstones; maumaharatia (remembering our past), tiakina te taiao (caring for our environment), and te whakawhanaungatanga (connecting with our people). Of course, flicking back to the wordless pages will generate even more ideas, allowing readers of all ages to contribute to Matariki celebrations.

I loved seeing te mita o Kāi Tahu (the Ngai Tahu dialect) incorporated into the book through a mihi and simple karakia, reflecting Brown and Parkinsons's whakapapa. The cousins have collaborated on some wonderful kaupapa Māori projects, and I can't wait to see what comes next.

Matariki is a simple book, but the deep knowledge it shares is precious and important to all of us who call Aotearoa New Zealand home.

Reviewed by: Rebekah Lyell

Allen & Unwin, RRP $22.99


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