Mäori fantasy novel for immersion schools

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Dr Darryn Joseph

A new fantasy novel for children written in te reo Mäori and illustrated by the author, Mäori language lecturer Dr Darryn Joseph, will be sent to all immersion schools for Te Wiki o Te Reo Mäori by publishers Pearson Education.

Dr Joseph, based at Te Pütahi-a-Toi (the School of Mäori Studies) at the University's Manawatu campus, says the book, Hewa (a translation for fantasy), is aimed at children aged 11-14. “It's pretty out there for children’s fiction written in Mäori," he says. "It's about a boy who wants to help protect his family and friends from a baddie. It’s set in an online game and involves American military software, a futuristic battleship called the USS Barack Obama, and artificial intelligences gaining sentience and self determination.”

Hewa has fulfilled Dr Joseph’s long-held dream to both illustrate and write a book for Mäori-speaking children. He started writing books after winning the Huia Short Stories Award in 2003 for writing in Mäori for adults. This is the sixth children’s fiction book he has written and his first novel. His other books include a sci-fi trilogy in Mäori and several picture books.

Dr Joseph says the thing he enjoys most about writing is the freedom of ideas "and taking the reader on a journey”. Copies will be sent to immersion schools over the next fortnight and donated to the University's Library and the Palmerston North Public Library.

Pearson Education has printed 2000 copies of Hewa, and 10 copies will be sent to each of the 116 immersion primary and secondary schools around the country. The remainder will be warehoused for distribution to other schools and education institutions at a later date. The novel is one of a series of five being published. Other authors include Katerina Te Heikoko Mataira, Oho Kaa, John Reweti and Timoti Huirama.

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