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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Girls in the Kapa Haka by Angie Belcher

Tahi, rua, toru, whā – get ready to once again celebrate the joy of kapa haka.

Originally published in 2006, The Girls in the Kapa Haka has been reissued, ready for a new generation of aspiring performers. We have this book at our Playcentre, and it is well-loved, pulled out and sung week after week. It has been impossible to find a new copy, so the reissue will also appeal to those who have originals held together by tape and love.

This clever story follows the life of a piupiu, worn by the girls who sing in a kapa haka group. Author Angie Belcher was inspired to write the story after watching on of the village kuia making piupiu and, later on, watching the children from Maketu School kapa haka group perform on their local marae.

Illustrator Debbie Tipuna drew on her experiences as a student at Waiariki Polytechnic to create the illustrations. There she developed her love of Māori arts, learned to weave flax, and learned that poi was not her speciality. Her illustrations utilise bright and bold colours, with lots of inspired patterns. Different perspectives add to the lyrical nature of the story – with close ups of swishing piupiu and swinging poi. It’s also a nice touch to see various bodies illustrated within the pages, allowing every child to imagine themselves as part of a kapa haka group. There are boys with long hair, pale skin, red hair, and girls with short hair, among other bodies, all represented within the pages.

The book uses correct tohutō (macrons) to mark long vowels and help those new to te reo to pronounce words correctly. A simple glossary and pronunciation guide at the back is also available for reference.

A wonderful celebration of kapa haka that is suitable for all the whānau to read and enjoy together.

Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser

Puffin, RRP $17.99

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