Winning Maori reads

Stuck for something to read over the long weekend?  “Read on then!”  I say, I may have just the thing for you …

In case you missed it, I thought I would share the winners for the 2012  Ngā Kupu Ora Book Awards. According to the information on our website, these awards were established in 2009 by Massey University to mark Māori Language week and to celebrate and encourage excellence in Māori publishing.

Over the years these awards have recognised some fantastic books- many of which I have read. Some of my standouts include:

The winners this year do not disappoint and as the award categories are quite varied there is sure to be something to cater for all tastes.  The two I most want to read first from this year are:

Whatu Kākahu by Awhina Tamarapa.  (Te Mahi Toi/Arts, Architecture and Design category). This book looks at the art of weaving from everyday practical items such as the rourou (food basket)  through to those of immense cultural significance such as kākahu (cloaks).  The book features contributions from expert weavers and makes accessible some of the information relating to 40 of the cloaks from the Te Papa Tongarewa Māori Collection, accompanied by new images.  I am certain that reading this book will be an absolute feast for both the eyes and mind.

Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua, written by the late Dame Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira.  She was awarded the Te Tohu o nga kupu ora/ Lifetime Achievement Award.  A wonderful and most fitting acknowledgement for her colossal contribution to both the resurgence of Te Reo Māori and for her contribution to Māori publishing- not only did she author her own works, she also translated the work of many other authors into Te Reo Māori.  Out of curiosity I did a quick catalogue search – at CCL we have 72 items in our Collection that she either wrote or translated – a massive contribution to the body of literature available in print in the Māori Language.  I thought it was amazing.The story itself (Ngā Waituhi o Rēhua/The Chronicles of Rehua) is a YA novel written in Te Reo Māori that tells the story of four teenagers living on another planet (called Rēhua) following the destruction of Earth after global war and ecological disaster. The characters end up embarking on a quest to decipher a mysterious code. Sounds like just my cup of tea and I’m looking forward to getting into this over the weekend.  Roll on bedtime for small children I say!

If non-fiction is more your style and race relations and history interest you, you may like to try,  He kōrero: Words between us- First Māori- Pākehā Conversations on paper. This book traces Māori engagement with handwriting from 1769-1826 and explores the evolution of Māori- Pākehā relationships based around the written word However, if that sounds a little too heavy going for your long weekend or you prefer fiction you might like to try Rangatira by Paula Morris.

Have you read any of this year’s winners already?  If so what did you think?  Or do you have a stand out favourite from previous years that you would recommend as an absolute must read?

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