The Greatest Haka Festival on Earth by Pania Tahau-Hodges
Updated: Dec 16, 2021
Pania Tahau-Hodges brings together a love for te ao Māori and a classic kiwi yarn in this new offering from Huia Publishers The Greatest Haka Festival on Earth. Anyone who has ever been involved in a kapa haka festival or, indeed, any sort of grand scale festival styled competition, will recognise some of the key moments in the event.
The story centres on a young girl and her love for her Nan - an ex Kapa Haka pro - as they travel to see the great Kapa Haka festival held around the country every year.
As a tradition that originated in New Zealand, the festival is the largest in the world and attracts visitors from all over the country, and often from overseas - when they can.
Nan becomes an unofficial judge as part of the proceedings, adopting that typical armchair critic vibe that is amongst every party at these events. The humour that is created throughout the book adds to the genuine feel and atmosphere of the whole concept.
As the story continues we learn more about the prowess of Nan and her time as a Kapa Haka performer including both her awe-inspiring pūkana and her Flying Wheke with some impressive poi moves.
Of particular note is the fantastic illustrations by Story Hemi-Morehouse, continuing the tradition of Huia Publishers of producing vibrant and original illustrations to go with their growing and impressive range of books and authors.
Overall, a great picture book for lovers of Māori culture, or festival culture of all ages. It really captures what it is to be kiwi. Tau ke!
Reviewer: Chris Reed