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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi by Toby Morris with Ross Calman, Mark Derby, Piripi Wa

If there is one book that should be required reading for every person living here in Aotearoa, this is it.

Te Tiriti o Waitangi / The Treaty of Waitangi is the first reorua (bilingual) graphic novel about our founding treaty.

Written by Māori and Pākehā authors Ross Calman and Mark Derby, the book is a fresh and innovative look at the treaty.

An English-only edition of this book was first published by the New Zealand Ministry of Education for use in schools. However, the book was only available in a digital format for the general public.

Publisher Lift Education chief executive Alex Collins said the graphic novel had such an impact, “we thought it should be available to everyone – and in a reorua version”.

The text in the te reo Māori version was developed by Māori Language Commission registered translator Piripi Walker.

To make it even more accessible, a link to both versions of the treaty translated into thirty other languages, and New Zealand Sign Language, is also included.

“We are a country of many cultures and languages. This book reflects that,” Collins said.

Reflect that it does, perfectly.

Morris’s illustrations bring the story to life. A simple glance at the cover of the book hints to the jewel you’ll find inside. The cover depicts a wide variety of people from different generations, and it is these people you will read about. Not the legal arguments that can so often be off-putting for some readers.

To reflect current scholarship, the book has been reviewed by some of Aotearoa’s foremost Te Tiriti o Waitangi experts.

The text is easy to comprehend and relatively straight-forward. It was written for primary school children after all, but it isn’t condescending or belittling.

The book is a flip book – one side in English, flip the book over and you can read the story in te reo Māori.

A map of where the treaty was signed, as well as a simplified one page timeline are also included in the both versions.

The story follows a simple timeline format that we (should) all know. The graphic novel covers a wide time span – from the arrival of pre-colonisation to the signing, to the New Zealand wars and right through to the modern-day Treaty settlement process. Morris and co don’t shy away from addressing what happened after the signing of the treaty. As Morris himself says in the book, “if we are honest about our country’s past, we can try to fix some of the damage that still affects us today”.

Engaging and accessible, this is a fresh approach on helping us all learn more about such a vital part of our collective history.

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Lift Education E Tū, RRP $20.


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