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04 March 2024

Book launch celebrates student creativity at one of Aotearoa’s largest Chinese schools

Rewi Alley Chinese School students and staff at the Tangram Tales launch event

The latest Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Writers in Communities project sees Rewi Alley Chinese School students tell their stories in ‘Tangram Tales’.

Saturday March 4 saw the Rewi Alley Chinese School community—students, staff and whānau from the South Island’s largest Chinese school—gather to celebrate their creative endeavours with readings, performances, and more as Tangram Tales is officially launched.

The colourful book, designed on the premise of a tangram (a Chinese dissection puzzle), contains the original art, poetry and stories of twenty young Chinese artists aged 8 to 13.

Tangram Tales highlights the creativity and imagination of children,” says Rewi Alley Principal David Lemon. “I was struck by the insightfulness of the stories as well as the emotions expressed in some of the stories.”

The book is the result of a project initiated by the Ministry of Education’s Reading Together® Te Pānui Ngātahi programme and coordinated by Read NZ Te Pou Muramura.

“The idea behind these projects is to enable communities whose voices might otherwise be marginalised to tell their stories,” says Juliet Blyth, Read NZ Te Pou Muramura CEO.

Communities host a writer-in-residence who works alongside them to develop their stories, culminating in a published book and launch celebration.

Rewi Alley Chinese School was selected for the project by the Ministry of Education, based on its unique focus on heritage learning through cultural immersion through after-school, weekend and holiday programmes.

Popular storyteller and children’s author Moira Wairama visited Rewi Alley for a week to facilitate the twenty students’ writing, drawing, and creative expression, and described the experience as a privilege.

"Thank you for giving me a different writing experience”, said one keen student participant. “It inspired me to think about the world from different perspectives and in different ways."

Fei He, a teacher at Rewi Alley, reflected that the children thoroughly enjoyed the creative process.

“Everyone was amazed by the diversity of the Tangram Tales created, and it opened another window for many parents to understand their children better.”

Copies of Tangram Tales are available on request from Read NZ Te Pou Muramura.

“I would like to see Tangram Tales distributed to libraries so that it reaches a wide audience,” says David.

“I would like both Chinese and non-Chinese children to read this book and be inspired to write their own stories, poems, and cartoons.”