Skip to content
Reviewed by Louana McCormack, Ōpaheke School, Auckland
Opening sentence
Kia ora! My name is Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai.
Every now and then a book comes along that is just a bit more special than other books and 'Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai' I feel, is one of those. It's a collaboration between the author and her son, all the words in the story are his, and as such has an authentic youthful voice and ideas: "When I wear my rainbow t-shirt, all you see is a blur of colour. See? I'll do it again, See?".

Figuring out your place in the world can be tricky and we explore where Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai situates himself within his whānau, alongside big questions about space, time, politics, culture and importantly if Nanna is really the boss?

The cover and illustrations are a riot of colour! Gestural illustrations leap off the page and the style shows movement, a sense of adventure and gives the feeling you might have in fact, wandered into the imagination of Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai. Turning each page is exciting because you just don't know what bright, bold illustrations and colour juxtapositions are going to appear next!

There are comprehensive teacher notes and an author & illustrator Q&A on the Gecko Press website. These will be helpful to use to unpack some of the deep themes, and the three by three grid will get students thinking. "What are three new words you have come across while reading/listening to this book? What are three things Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai strongly believes? What are three things this book makes
you question or wonder about?"

Quite possibly the best book I have picked up to read this year, a special book that deserves a place in every Aotearoa school library.
Author & Illustrator: Michaela Keeble, illustrator: Tokerau Brown
Publisher: Gecko Press
ISBN: 97811776574582
Format: Paperback
Publication: Sept 2023
Ages: 7+
Themes: Whānau and belonging, Colonisation