Maori Art for Kids

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Maori-Art-cvr-300ppi

NOANOA, Julie (text) Norm Heke (illus.) Māori Art for Kids Craig Potton Pub, 2014 80pp NZ$24.99 pbk ISBN 9781927213131 NZ$34.99 hdbk ISBN 9781927213148 SCIS 1688955

This illustrated book is long overdue and indeed, a potential classic.  Art, design and associated objects are central tāonga for Māori that embed deep spiritual ideas and connections speaking across generations from the past to the future.  This book shares something of that journey and, in offering ideas of how children can use contemporary materials to represent 15 key treasures that the book details, tradition and modernity can come together in respectful ways.  Drawing upon the knowledge and māna of key artists who share their histories, objects, ideas and suggestions, each section presents an iconic image of each treasure and its significance for Māori.  Following this, practical ideas of how children can construct their own tāonga are given (with helpful templates given in the closing pages of the book).  Objects include heru (decorative combs) wakahuia (feather box), poupou (carved wall panel), kete bag, ipu (container), koru (spiral form), tukutuku wall panel, Hei tiki (neck pendant), maro (garment), porotiti (spinning disc), wheku (mask), pōtaka (spinning top), poi dancing ball and a manu tukutuku (kite).

The author has been a museum/art gallery educator for many years and indicates in the publisher’s blurb that for many years she has had requests from parents and teachers asking how they could teach Māori art to their children.  By assembling 15 top artists and sharing their knowledge as well as providing practical advice of how to translate this into actual objects by children is a wonderful example of scaffolding.  The production quality is excellent and so this book is highly recommended.

reviewed by John McKenzie

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