I think it’s important to share such tales with children – to colour in their mental map of New Zealand with Maori legends and beliefs, but also to give them something to play with that’s uniquely Maori.
Such stories also give children a mental and emotional space in which to make sense of terms like ‘tohunga’ or ‘taniwha’ – not to mention patupaiarehe.
I was especially pleased to find a few stories about the patupaiarehe – I retold them to the children and they loved it (asking for more!). They also want to know why cooked food and ochre scare the patupaiarehe away – important questions to ponder!
The blurb on Fishpond explains: “Maori myths and legends have an important role in transmitting and regenerating traditional knowledge. Yet as Ross Calman points out in his introduction to this new edition, they are also simply great yarns – reflective of a time when telling and listening to stories was a key leisure activity in Maori society. Favourite Maori Legends is an invitation to enjoy over 30 of the most memorable legends, grouped into themes of the spirit world, patupaiarehe …, taniwha, supernatural creatures, heroes and deeds of daring. Concise yet complete, these gripping stories are enlivened by the timeless illustrations of Roger Hart.”