Christmas picture books tend to be based in the Northern hemisphere with wintery imagery, so it is refreshing to read a Christmas book based here in New Zealand with historical context. ‘The first Kiwi Christmas’ is set in December 1814 in Northland’s Oihi bay. Māori chiefs Ruatar, Honi and Korokoro along with the Reverend Samuel Mardsen make a trip from Australia to New Zealand to spread the Christmas message “He told the Christmas message that began with Jesus’ birth, and the hope and joy it brings to people all around the earth.”
The illustrations by Eddie Booth are colourful engaging and readers will have lots of details to spot, seasick sailors, Tuis feeding in Pōhutukawa trees and Paki a green Kiwi who is the narrator of the story is hidden on each page. Stopping to spot Paki was something the students I read this book to enjoyed immensely.
There are two pages at the end of the book ‘Paki’s Info Page’ that give a more in depth insight and historical context to the story, these pages will be useful for older readers and as teacher notes for further discussion around the events and people featured. The story also has endorsements from historians and descendants.
The rhyming makes it a fantastic read-aloud.
Title: The First Kiwi Christmas
Author: Alison Condon and Gina Taggart
Illustrator: Eddie Booth
Publisher: Big Book Publishing Ltd
Date of Publication: 2019
Reviewer: Louana McCormack, Opaheke School, Auckland
How highly are you recommending this book? Recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence? Kia ora, my name’s Paki.
You can buy this book here