Ever since I began working in a library, I have gained a greater appreciation and understanding of the power of picture books. Don’t get me wrong, I always thought they were great, but now that I am exposed to so many on a five-day-a-week basis I am able to really see the wide array of content, art styles (which are amazing), and most importantly, languages.
New Zealand has three official languages: English, Te Reo Māori, and New Zealand sign language. Although Māori is the language of New Zealand’s Indigenous people, it only became an official language in 1987 after much effort and years of recovery programs to try and counter the damage of decades of colonial suppression. Now there are Māori-language schools, Māori radio stations, and a Māori television channel. Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) is held once a year, as one of many initiatives to encourage increased awareness and knowledge of the language and its history.
Books and libraries have a role to play in this as well. Many here now hold Māori-language storytimes, and their Māori and Māori-language collections extend into children’s and young adult books. Publishers are playing their part in this expansion by not only putting out more books to help learn the language (often accompanied by waiata) but also translating well-known picture books making it accessible and familiar to children and their parents.
Here’s five of these books that are available in my local library – and possibly yours.
Kei Reira Ngā Weriweri – Maurice Sendak
Translated by Huia Publishers, a New Zealand publisher, Where The Wild Things Are is also available in Samoan (‘O le Nofoaga ‘olo’o iai Meaola Uiga’ese). Also available is Kei Te Kīhini o te Pō, the Māori edition of In The Night Kitchen.
You can download for free the audio versions of both Māori translations on the Huia website.
Te Anuhe Tino Hiakai – Eric Carle
Another translation from Huia, The Very Hungry Caterpillar is again also available in Samoan (‘O le Ketapila Matua Fia ‘Ai). A free audio mp3 is also available for download as a readalong.
He Raiona i roto i nga Otaota – Margaret Mahy
Author Margaret Mahy is one of the legends of New Zealand child and youth fiction, and The Lion In The Meadow is a traditional part of learning to read for many. A picture book and an early reader, it’s now read to children by parents who learned their reading with this title. In addition to bringing Mahy’s books back into print, Hachette New Zealand has brought out a Māori edition of this Kiwi classic.
Te Tanguruhau – Julia Donaldson
The Gruffalo is not the only Julia Donaldson title that has been translated by Huia. There’s also Kei Hea Taku Māmā? (Monkey Puzzle) and He Wāhi i te Puruma (Room On The Broom). And be sure to download the free audio on the Huia website!
Hairy Maclary nō te Tēri a Tānarahana – Lynley Dodd
If The Lion in the Meadow is a Kiwi classic, then Hairy Maclary is the classic. I wasn’t the only one who grew up referring to dog breeds by their Hairy Maclary names – I certainly still think of the rhymes whenever I see one that matches. While Penguin New Zealand has only translated the first book, I do hope that the many others will follow.
So there you have it. Five (and some bonus) picture books that have been translated into Māori. These are not the only ones, however – I could have made this entire post featuring nothing but books by Huia Publishers.
Let me know if you have read any of these (or plan to), and what other books should also be translated. I will be keeping an eye out for what comes next into my local library.