Larsen, Rebecca (1977-) was born in Whanganui. She primarily works in marketing and design through her own company, ChatterBox NZ Ltd.
Rebecca has had a keen interest in art throughout her whole life. Rebecca's family moved to Feilding where she attended Feilding Agricultural High School, and took as many creative classes as she could, furthering her art and design skills. Rebecca then attended Wellington Polytechnic, enrolling in Contemporary Māori Design, which led to a four-year degree program at Massey University in Visual Communications Design.
Rebecca then worked in publications, rebrands and campaigns in the advertising industry, first in New Zealand, and then taking her to Toronto, Canada, where she would stay for eight years. Here, she had young children of her own, and sang them songs of her childhood to introduce them to, and remind them of home. Rebecca wished to write a picture book for each of her children, combining her skills in art, writing and design.
One of Rebecca’s main inspirations for her picture books was Piatarihi Beatrice Yates. Piatarihi Yates created fun waiata mixing te reo with English and actions. One of her well known and loved waiata is One day a Taniwha. Rebecca followed in her footsteps to help her Canadian born children learn some basic te reo kupu in a fun song with actions. This led to her writing and illustrating her first book, Row, Row, Row Your Waka in 2015.
Row, Row, Row Your Waka, in the tradition of One Day a Taniwha, has both English and Māori text, and includes a CD for singing along. The book was an instant hit with children and experienced great popularity in daycares, junior classes and libraries around the country. Tākahe magazine praises the book for being engaging for children, and also for its “magical reworking of an olde-world relic into something wider, concerned with life and growth”. Rebecca was inspired to make the book into a series, based on the three main characters, a Rebecca Larsen writes books for adults and children. Her most notable works are a series of sing-along picture books set to the tunes of popular nursery rhymes, and based on the main characters of a pūkeko, kiwi and hoiho.
The second book in the Pūkeko, Kiwi and Hoiho series is Tāne Mahuta has a Forest, which was published in 2018. It is set to the tune of Old MacDonald had a Farm, and has been described as “something a little more funky” with “vibrant illustrations, beautiful lyrics and music.” The third book, Twinkle, Twinkle Matariki“ turns an old classic upside down with a Matariki twist – complete with a star-voyaging spaceship!”
The Pūkeko, Kiwi and Hoiho series is a family project. Rebecca’s brother Richard Larsen works on the music, her brother in law Paul Inia on vocals, and friends Tania Solomona and Justin Kereama on translation and cultural consultation.
During the 2020 lockdown, Rebecca and her mother completed a book about her Grandfather’s experience as a foot soldier and prisoner of war during world war two, To the Holy Lands, through Hell and Home again. Spanning three generations and twenty years, this personal family project has become a treasure and helped Rebecca learn about her Grandfather who passed away when she was only a toddler.
Rebecca is a participant in the Read NZ Writers in Schools programme, and offers daycare or school readings, craft options and school presentations including sharing her Grandfather's WWII story.