Bilingual book teaches te reo Māori to new generation


A new bilingual children’s book written by a Victoria University of Wellington academic is using te reo Māori to connect with a new generation of speakers.

Ngā Maunga Tohorā has been written by Vincent Olsen-Reeder from Victoria’s School of Māori Studies and published by Ngā Pōtiki a Tamapahore and early childhood providers Inspired Kindergartens. It is printed in Māori and English and Mr Olsen-Reeder says it will introduce new generations of iwi in the Tauranga region to the history of the area’s mountains as well as some of the local kaimoana.

Mr Olsen-Reeder started learning te reo Māori in 2008, when he began his Bachelor of Arts at Victoria. Through co-authoring Ngā Maunga Tohorā with his cousin Hinemārie Burton, Mr Olsen-Reeder says he is sharing stories written about, and for, the new generation of te reo Māori speakers.

“I’ve chosen to re-write existing narratives of Tauranga, but I’m putting them into te reo Māori because a lot of our stories aren’t written down, and even fewer are written down in te reo Māori. The key goal with this book, and hopefully further books, is to re-write our stories in our language using our own words.”

The book tells the story of a family of whales who beach themselves in Rangataua Bay.

“The whales represent our three key maunga (mountains) in our tribal territory. It’s based on a letter than my Nan wrote to me after I asked her about stories from back home. I thought it would be a good idea to turn it into a children’s book, so I sent it onto my family to review and my cousin Hinemārie picked it up. She applied her whakaaro (knowledge) that drew on her upbringing in the area and also her expertise on how to write books kids love to read.”

The book will be launched at Rōmai Marae in Tauranga on 16 May.


- Victoria University