This picture book was first published by Reed in 2006 and has made a welcome comeback as I’m sure there are many well-worn and well-loved copies of the original in libraries all over New Zealand.
It is based on the format of the traditional rhyme: The House that Jack Built. Telling the simple story of the making of piupiu for a Kapa Haka performance, it has repetitive phrases that build on each other. The Māori words are in bold and in a larger font size with an easy reference to the glossary at the back with a pronunciation guide and meanings.
Although this story is about a Māori culture group, diversity is celebrated with the club including children with different hair and skin colours.
Debbie Tipuna’s illustrations utilise bold patterns and bright colours. The cover shows action with pois twirling and piupiu swishing. In contrast, the end pages have pairs of poi in pastel shades on them lying in pairs.
On the left of many double-spreads is an enlarged illustration of the new element introduced on that page.
Any primary school student who is in a Kapa Haka club or has watched a performance will appreciate this simple but delightful story. With the increased interest in Te Reo and Kapa Haka, this book is sure to go flying off the shelves and be enjoyed by many.
Title: The Girls in the Kapa Haka
Author: Angie Belcher
Illustrator: Debbie Tepuna
Publisher: Penguin Random House NZ
Date of Publication: June 2019
Reviewer: Nova Gibson, Library Manager, Massey Primary School
How highly are you recommending this book? Highly Recommended
What’s the book’s opening sentence? Tahi, rua, toru, whā!