Making Positive New Zealand History Accessible to Children

On Friday 2nd October, historic Rangiatea Church in Otaki hosted the launch of the second set of a series of children's books called The Chronicles of Paki - NZ's Untold Story.

The Chronicles of Paki tell the story of Maori and Pakeha heroes who made a significant impact on our early New Zealand history. While the fully illustrated stories have been created to make history accessible to older children and those of intermediate age, the stories are increasingly being appreciated by older people too, as testified by adults in the audience at the launch.

Series Two tells of the influence of Christianity in New Zealand from the 1830’s through both Maori and Pakeha missionaries. This influence brought an end to the harsh law of utu, and in its place a wave of peace and forgiveness swept throughout New Zealand.

Reacher and co-writer of the series, Gina Taggart, pointed out that many New Zealanders have heard the names Te Rauparaha and Hongi Hika, men who successfully exploited the law of utu and who left behind a trail of devastation and misery in their wake. In contrast, few New Zealanders have heard the names of Wiremu Tamihana Te Waharoa, Matene Te Whiwhi or Chief Ngakuku who displayed extraordinary courage and fortitude in an effort to bring peace.

The authors identified that there is a large gap in literature available for children about this aspect of the history of New Zealand, and so were motivated to fill the void. Though tragic in many instances, the New Zealand story is still full of heroes, both Maori and Pakeha, who displayed courage, determination, selflessness and faith.

The first set of books which was launched last year, tells the story of the Ngapuhi Rangitira who invited missionaries and first embraced the ways of peace in the Northland area. This second set chronicles the spread of the peace message as it travelled down through the Waikato, Manawatu and Kapiti areas to the South Island. The third will be about the Treaty of Waitangi.

Tikanga Maori Bishop Muru Walters congratulated the authors for their initiative and particularly he paid tribute to the artist Tania Hassounia, for her excellent portrayal of Maori faces. Series Producer, Dave Mann, spoke of the positive national identity and warmth between Maori and Pakeha that can develop as knowledge of our own stories is fostered. Academic Historian Geoff Troughton complimented the team on the way they were making history so accessible to younger audiences.

The books are available online through Big Book Publishing

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