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Mauao named finalist in 2019 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao is the sixth bilingual book for children by Tauranga author and indie publisher Debbie McCauley, who in 2015 won the Best Non-Fiction category in the same awards with Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill: A Story from the Rena Disaster.

Devdiscourse News Desk | Updated: 06-06-2019 08:26 IST | Created: 06-06-2019 08:26 IST
Mauao named finalist in 2019 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults
The text of Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao was translated into Te Reo Māori by Tamati Waaka (Ngāti Pūkeko, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Tūhoe). Image Credit: Pixabay

A homage to Mauao has been named a finalist in the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Local women Debbie McCauley and Debbie Tipuna are thrilled that their book is part of the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction, a category established in 1986 to encourage the development of excellence in New Zealand non-fiction for young people.

Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao is the sixth bilingual book for children by Tauranga author and indie publisher Debbie McCauley, who in 2015 won the Best Non-Fiction category in the same awards with Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill: A Story from the Rena Disaster. Her other titles for children are Taratoa and the Code of Conduct: A Story from the Battle of Gate Pā (Mauao Publishing, 2014), The Treaty of Waitangi in Tauranga: Te Tiriti o Waitangi ki Tauranga Moana (Mauao Publishing, 2018), Māia the Brave: A type 2 diabetes story (Mauao Publishing & Zespri International, 2018) and Eliza and the White Camellia: A Story of Suffrage in New Zealand (Mauao Publishing, 2018). "It's wonderful to have a uniquely Tauranga story in the awards," says Debbie McCauley, "and a bit nerve-wracking to be representing Tauranga Moana at the awards ceremony in Wellington."

Well-established Tauranga artist and illustrator Debbie Tipuna has illustrated several books for children in her lively, vibrant style. From the window of her quirky home studio in Maungatapu can be seen a stunning view of the harbour, and a quick wander down the road brings you to the historic Opopoti Marae on the waterfront where she finds much of her inspiration. Before illustrating the legend, she created a three-dimensional sculpture of Mauao out of modelling clay and then rendered her paintings in watercolour and gouache. "It was a real pleasure to work with my friend Debbie McCauley on the retelling of the Legend of Mauao," says Debbie Tipuna, "and I am delighted that our work has been selected as a finalist for the Elsie Locke Award." Debbie Tipuna's published work includes; Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao (Mauao Publishing, 2018), The Farmyard Idol (Purple Chicken Press, 2017), Ko Wai Hei Hoa Mōku? (Huia, 2011), Poetry Pudding (Reed NZ, 2007), The Girls in the Kapahaka (Reed NZ, 2005) and Friends you can Count on (Reed NZ, 2005).

The text of Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao was translated into Te Reo Māori by Tamati Waaka (Ngāti Pūkeko, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Tūhoe). Tamati is a certified interpreter and translator with an extensive background in Māori radio, television and kapa haka. "Tamati does a beautiful translation," says Debbie McCauley. "He is an important part of the team that helped create the book." That team includes designer Sarah Elworthy and kaumātua of Ngāi Tamarāwaho hapū, Des Tata. The acknowledgements included in the book are a testament to how it takes a community to create a book.

Not simply a retelling, Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao includes a glossary and pronunciation guide, Mauao facts, a Mauao timeline, maps, important places found on Mauao, activities for children, karakia, waiata and whakatauki. The concept of creating a picture book for children started in 2012 when Debbie wrote a version to use during school visits to the library and has been supported by kaumātua from Tauranga Moana iwi; Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngāti Pūkenga.

Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao was reviewed by Rebekah Fraser (NZ Booklovers website, 26 March 2019 https://www.nzbooklovers.co.nz/blog/ko-mauao-te-maunga-legend-of-mauao-by-debbie-mccauley) who wrote:

Created with the blessing of local kaumatua, the book commemorates the return of Mauao to Tauranga iwi in 2008, the creation of joint management under Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao in 2013, the recognition of Mauao as wāhi tapu in 2014, and the signing of the Mauao Historic Reserve Management Plan last year. McCauley said over the years the mountain has been subjected to vandalism, graffiti and arson attacks. "My hope is that if we tell the story of Mauao to a wider audience, then people will have a greater understanding and appreciation of him. That may translate into how they walk upon Mauao, take their rubbish with them, and help to look after the wildlife that chooses to make their home upon his slopes. He is a taonga and deserves our love and respect."

Her passion and respect for Mauao are similarly matched by Tipuna, who began working on the illustrations a year before the book was published. She first crafted a three-dimensional sculpture in modelling clay, before using watercolour and gouache to finish the illustrations. They are deceptively simple, but have such great meaning and are deeply moving and emotive. The bilingual picture book features both te reo Māori and English on the same page, with correct macrons in both languages. The book also includes a glossary and pronunciation guide, Mauao facts, a timeline, map, oral traditions, and activities for children. These additions are so well thought-out, they really elevate the book to being so much more than a picture book. It is a reference book, history book, and textbook all in one. A big book version makes it a wonderful addition to a classroom or Kura kaupapa environment. Ko Mauao te Maunga is a simply stunning picture book. It will not only help educate our younger generation – and some of the older generation too – about this taonga – but will help children connect with their surroundings while developing and sense of place and pride. While it will hold immense appeal to readers within the Tauranga area, it is an incredibly informative and accessible homage to Mauao for all New Zealanders.

Awards in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are made in six categories: Picture Book, Junior Fiction (the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award), Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction (the Elsie Locke Award), Illustration (the Russell Clark Award) and te reo Māori (the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award).

The author and publisher gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Creative New Zealand.


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