Te Ika a Māui is a great story to tell tamariki. Acting it out and reading with expression will get pēpi engaged.

In the Whakatipu booklet Te Pihinga 3 there’s a short version of the well-known legend Te Ika a Māui, where Māui – the great explorer – gets a surprise at what he hooks on his fishing line.

Te Ika a Māui tells the story of Māui the teina, who was never allowed to join his tuakana on their fishing trips. So one day he sneaked onto the waka and, with his matau made from a magic jawbone, he fished up the North Island of Aotearoa, Te Ika a Māui.

Sharing the story

Whānau might enjoy reading the story to their pēpi or even to older tamariki. Parents or other whānau members may also like to practise reading so they can learn to tell the story. Māori culture has a strong oral tradition – storytelling was common in the past and continues to be a great activity.

Ask whānau:

  • What experiences did you have with stories or books when you were growing up?
  • Who was most likely to share stories with you?
  • What can you remember about the stories?
  • What Māori legends are you familiar with?

At this stage, some tamariki may like to have the story read to them, but it depends on how well used they are to being read to and how expressive the reader is.

  • What have you noticed about your child’s ability to pay attention to books?
  • How do you keep them focused?

Helping baby to engage with the story

A parent might begin by just showing the picture on page 28 to pēpi and saying something like "Look at Māui in his waka. He’s pulling up a big fish – pull, Māui, pull!" That might be enough for pēpi at this age.

Te Ika a Māui lends itself to acting out – paddling out to sea, throwing out the fishing line, pulling up the fishing line and cutting up the fish.

You could include some props like a string or a paddle to help tell the story.

  • Is this something you think you might try?
  • What else could you act out?

Remind the parents that repetition is important and little doses often work better than the whole story every time.

If pēpi doesn’t seem interested or gets bored, don’t push it. Leave it until later, or else parents can continue reading the story aloud. Although pēpi may not want to sit and engage with it, they can still hear it being read. And if it’s read with expression and it sounds like the parents are enjoying it, eventually pēpi will want to join in too.

Look at the parenting messages at the bottom of page 29, and talk about them with whānau:

  • ‘A young child is capable of contributing.’
  • ‘Sibling rivalry has been around for a long time.’
  • ‘Give thanks to those who provide.’

What other messages could be taken from this pakiwaitara?

Helpful resources for whānau