Written and illustrated by Kitty Brown and Kirsten Parkinson
Allen & Unwin
Reviewed by: Jo Lucre
My nine-year-old enjoyed Matariki, a children’s book written to celebrate and explore Matariki. “It reminds you of the Māori ways of the world; about protecting nature and the earth,” he says.
Authors Kitty Brown and Kirsten Parkinson, two cousins from Ōtepoti, Dunedin, delve into the meaning of Matariki. They ask, how can we celebrate Matariki? Let’s look to the stars. With rich bilingual text, we learn about each of the stars that form the Matariki star cluster.
With its earthy and uniquely Kiwi illustrations, Matariki offered an opportunity for my son and I to learn more about everything we didn’t know, which I discovered was a lot! Were there seven stars or nine? In the book there are nine but a little a visit to Te Papa’s website explained that it could be both. Different iwi share different kōrero regarding Matariki, they say. Next we visited Te Ara, The Encyclopeadia of New Zealand, which says iwi across New Zealand understand and celebrate Matariki in different ways and at different times. Te Aka Māori Dictionary came to our rescue a few times to help us pronounce words such as hiwaiterangi and waipunarangi correctly.
When my son and I were halfway through reading Matariki, he randomly asked me if I knew about Kupe and his stone and he proceeded to tell me what he knew when I told him that I didn’t. I thought this was really cool – it really hit home how we are all on a learning journey together and not only can we learn from each other, but the simple act of reading can educate, create connections, and encourage us to seek out more information to become more informed and more aware.
Matariki is a lovely simple book that encourages us to look deeper, stay connected, and celebrate Matariki by remembering our past, caring for our environment, and connecting with our people.