By Peter Gossage, translated by Merimeri Penfold
Peter Gossage's distinctive artworks need no introduction. His retellings of two iconic Māori stories are well-loved and fondly remembered. These new and revised editions are now bilinguals, telling the story of Māui slowing the sun and the fishing up of the North Island.
Dr Merimeri Penfold (Ngāti Kurī) translated the tales into te reo Māori. Dr Penfold was a former lecturer in Māori language at Auckland University and is recognised as one of the country's leading teachers and champions of te reo Māori.
The bilingual format, with te reo Māori as the lead language, ensures the books reach a wide readership. When reading the stories, it's hard not to think that this was how it should have been done the first time.
Using both languages offers those learning te reo Māori the ability to practice their fluency and understanding. For those already fluent, there's no need to use the English version if you don't want to. Immersion is the best method of learning a new language after all.
Bilingual books reassure readers that it's great to speak more than one language, that it's ok to use them interchangeably, and that learning more than one language is an enriching experience. By including both languages, children who speak te reo Māori and English can see both languages given equal importance.
The only downside of these books is the time - Gossage's original texts were published in the early 1980s. It's heartbreaking to think it's taken almost 40 years for us to have te reo Māori versions published.
Gossage was a pioneer of his time, one of the first to try and succeed at getting local New Zealand picture books into the market. His work, much like that of Margaret Mahy, will always be synonymous with New Zealand picture books, one of the first to reflect our stories on paper.
I love that these books kept Gossage's original artworks. Vivid, bright and evocative, they tell just as much of the story as the text does. They are so distinctive and these reprints ensure his legacy will never lose its relevancy in Aotearoa.
Te Hopu a Māui i a Te Rā and Te-Ika-a-Māui are beloved classics of New Zealand literature that should be one every bookshelf in the country.
Reviewed by: Rebekah Lyell
Penguin Random House, RRP $19.99 each