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Beloved teacher remembered in poem for Te Wiki o te reo Māori

Whakarongo-Ki-o-Tupuna--1110Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna/Listen to your Ancestors, a picture book in te Reo Māori with English translation, will be published for Māori Language Week next week.

One night in June, 2016, Massey University language lecturer Dr Darryn Joseph sat in a hospital room minding a teacher who had become a dear friend and mentor to him.  Dr Joseph wrote her a poem of appreciation, kissed her hand and said goodbye. She died the next day.

That poem is contained in Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna/Listen to your Ancestors, a picture book in te Reo Māori with English translation, published for Māori Language Week next week.

The story follows the beloved teacher giving her pupils and granddaughter guidance by directing them to follow the examples of Māori gods and ancestors. “Every teacher teaches you something, but a few special teachers leave lasting impressions that stay with you for life,” Dr Joseph says. The book is illustrated by emerging artist Munro Te Whata, of Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Porou, who has vividly brought to life settings in a school, the outdoors and a rest home in a colourful and fun style. Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna teaches the values represented by Māori gods and ancestors, and provides a much-needed tool for reading in te Reo.

But at its heart it is a story of love and respect, harking back to the friendship that inspired its writing.  Dr Joseph, of Ngāti Maniapoto, is a senior lecturer in Māori language and the author of many books for Māori immersion education. He is a trustee of Storylines and was a judge for last year’s New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Mr Te Whata is a dynamic young animator, artist and writer who has illustrated several books.

It will be launched at a special event at Wharerata, at the Manawatū campus, on September 12 at 4pm and all are welcome to attend.

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