Topic: Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao by Debbie McCauley

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Mauao is the Mountain. 'Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao' by Debbie McCauley and illustrated by Debbie Tipuna, is a bilingual children's picture book in English and Te Reo Māori retelling the traditional Legend of Mauao, and was released on 15 June 2018 during Matariki Tauranga Moana. Many thanks to Des Tata and Puhirake Ihaka for their guidance on this project. ISBN: 9780473297060.

AWARDS: New Zealand Children and Young Adults Book Awards Nominee for Elsie Locke Award Non-fiction (shortlist) (2019).

BLURBThe history of Mauao, along with the legend, is one of heartbreak and struggle, but also one of endurance, strength and unity. Mauao stands guard at the entrance to Te Awanui, the Tauranga Harbour. At over two million years old, he is a tipuna and sacred taonga, manifesting both the past and the present, as well as giving us hope for the future.

THIS BOOK INCLUDES: • glossary and pronunciation guide • Mauao facts • Mauao timeline • important places • oral traditions • activities for children.

Author: Debbie McCauley
Illustrator: Debbie Tipuna
Translator: nā Tamati Waaka i whakamāori
Designer: Sarah Elworthy
Publisher: Mauao Publishing (Tauranga)
First Published: 15 June 2018 (Matariki)
ISBN: 9780473297060 - RRP: $35.95
ISBN: 9780473435448 (Big Book) - RRP: $49.95

The author and publisher gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Creative New Zealand's Creative Community Scheme.


Matariki is here at last and Tauranga City Libraries is proud to once again take part in the Matariki Tauranga Moana celebrations. The beautiful programme is available in our libraries, as well as many other places throughout the city, and we encourage you to pick one up to see all that’s on offer this June-July. The front cover of the programme features a stunning Debbie Tipuna illustration, borrowed from Debbie McCauley’s new book Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao, which is launching as part of this year’s programme. Well done Bernie, Debbie, Jess and Daniel, who have worked hard with our partners to bring the programme together - Tauranga City Libraries (What's On, June/July 2018).

Author Debbie McCauley had to plan well in advance for her book to be launched during Matariki. It is difficult enough to get the book proofs and overseas publisher coordinated, but to ensure the book is in New Zealand during this special time of the year requires tenacity, constant monitoring progress, and luck. Shipping delays, bad weather, any number of obstacles could prevent the book from arriving on time. Fortunately the season for celebration, stories and remembrance is enhanced with this publication. The Legend of Mauao, like many stories, has multiple variations in theme, content and action. Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao by Debbie McCauley retells the story but it is a much more optimistic, uplifting story. The mountain of no name, instead of wishing to commit suicide, wants to leave the area so he doesn’t have to see Puwhenua. When he gets to the waters’ edge, at dawn, the patupaiarehe depart back into darkness. He is happy because he sees the day is light and bright, and welcomes everyone to Te Awanui – Tauranga Harbour. The many illustrations by Debbie Tipuna depicts the hill without a name, Otanewainuku and Puwhenua. As well, she draws the patupaiarehe with fine characterisations. A map is included. The text is translated by Tamati Waaka. Speakers of Te Reo Maori have called the translation ‘beautiful.’ Billed as a children’s book, it nevertheless has a glossary, Mauao facts, Mauao timeline starting in about 1250s BC, Mauao place names, and other songs and sayings in English and Maori. There are even pages on suggested activities. The genesis for this story, according to Debbie began in 2012. But Life got in the way; such as publishing other books, working, family. And she wanted the right artist for illustrations. As a team, Debbie and Debbie worked in tandem, like on a story board: draft the drawing, layout the sequence, merge the two for a cohesive whole. The page proofs before final production showed more intense colours were needed for reproduction. Book designer Sarah Elworthy worked closely with writer and publisher to ensure the final product excelled in quality. And it does - Lee Switzer (ARTbop, 4 July 2018).

If you get a copy of this book, you’ll need to hold onto it tightly. The beautiful illustration and production will have people trying to wrestle it off you in a heartbeat. This, in fact, happened to me—I took it out in public and I won’t be making the same mistake twice. People are drawn to it; it has a book lovers sensibility: a matt cover, lovely thick paper and the illustrations are stunning. I always wonder how illustrators make picture books engaging when the protagonist is something I don’t see as particularly expressive. The maunga in this story are human enough to be engaging but solid and immovable enough to leave the reader in no doubt that they are maunga. This is the story of a nameless maunga who was deeply in love with a beautiful maunga, named Puwhenua. However, when he discovered that she was in love with another, his cries of misery are loud enough to be heard by the patupaiarehe. They help him by weaving ropes to bind him and pull him out to sea, away from his unrequited love. They drag him all night but as the first rays of sun send the patupaiarehe back to the forest, and as mountains can only be moved once in their lifetime he is frozen in place forever. He is subsequently named Mauao 'caught by the dawn'. My bland synopsis is exactly why you need to read this book and have this legend brought to life. Like the tardis, this book is much more than it seems. It is more than a picture book —at the back is a glossary, facts about Mauao, a detailed timeline, place names, karakia, whakatauki, maps and activities. This book is the perfect classroom resource—it is informative and well thought out. However, to label it as such does undercook it slightly—this retelling is captivating and evocative. I found myself pouring over the story in both Maori and English. While my reo isn’t proficient enough to comment on the Maori translation, I found it flowed well enough for me, at my beginners level, to read with the assistance of the English text (and the online Maori dictionary for clarifying some words!). Ko Mauao te Maunga would make a lovely gift book—for children and anyone learning te reo or interested in the history and mythology of the Tauranga rohe - Simie Simpson, Paparoa (Magpies Magazine, September 2018, Vol. 33, No. 4).

This book is obviously very well-researched and is Debbie McCauley’s third publication about the rohe. She is not only an author, but also a librarian at Tauranga City Library and this book began in 2012 as a resource she’d made for class visits to the library. It is very thorough; there are 16 pages of reference information including a glossary, quiz, timeline and there are even local tauparapara. These extensive resources will excite any kaiako wanting to use this book in the classroom. McCauley’s story of how Mauao came to rest where it is today is well told and clever, and the illustrations are really detailed and interestingKay Benseman (The Sapling3 October 2018).

What a BEAUTIFUL book. Thanks so much to the 3 of you for creating such a fabulous account of our legend. I love the inclusion of the karakia and waiata at the back and all the extra information. It has taken me several years to learn E hika tu ake... But most of all it is just such beautiful story-telling and the images are magical - Bonnie Hebenton (Teacher, November 2018).

Created with the blessing of local kaumatua, the book commemorates the return of Mauao to Tauranga iwi in 2008, the creation of joint management under Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao in 2013, the recognition of Mauao as wāhi tapu in 2014, and the signing of the Mauao Historic Reserve Management Plan last year. McCauley said over the years the mountain has been subjected to vandalism, graffiti and arson attacks. “My hope is that if we tell the story of Mauao to a wider audience, then people will have a greater understanding and appreciation of him. That may translate into how they walk upon Mauao, take their rubbish with them, and help to look after the wildlife that choose to make their home upon his slopes. He is a taonga and deserves our love and respect.” Her passion and respect for Mauao is similarly matched by Tipuna, who began working on the illustrations a year before the book was published. She first crafted a three dimensional sculpture in modelling clay, before using watercolour and gouache to finish the illustrations. They are deceptively simple, but have such great meaning and are deeply moving and emotive. The bilingual picture book features both te reo Māori and English on the same page, with correct macrons in both languages. The book also includes a glossary and pronunciation guide, Mauao facts, a timeline, map, oral traditions, and activities for children. These additions are so well thought-out, they really elevate the book to being so much more than a picture book. It is a reference book, history book, and text book all in one. A big book version makes it a wonderful addition to a classroom or kura kaupapa environment. Ko Mauao Te Maunga is a simply stunning picture book. It will not only help educate our younger generation – and some of the older generation too – about this taonga – but will help children connect with their surroundings, while developing and sense of place and pride. While it will hold immense appeal to readers within the Tauranga area, it is an incredibly informative and assessible homage to Mauao for all New ZealandersRebekah Fraser (NZ Booklovers, 26 March 2019).

Mauao and Environs by Lee Switzer (2)
Photo: Lee Switzer 
How well do you know  16

Mauao Facts:

  • Mauao stands at the entrance to Te Awanui Harbour. It was here that Tamatea Arikinui, captain of the Takitimu waka, landed c. 1350 AD. He climbed to the summit where he proclaimed his people’s claim to the land spread below him.
  • There are several pa sites on Mauao. Chief Kinonui’s pa is located near the harbour entrance looking across to Matakana Island. People lived here in times of peace, valuing the position for the spring of fresh water and the easy access to seafood in the harbour.
  • The remains of a defensive pa can still be seen on the summit. Here the battle of Te Kokowai (red ochre) was fought between Ngati Ranginui, who occupied Tauranga Moana at that time, and Ngai Te Rangi, newcomers from the east looking for a place to settle. This changed forever the dynamics of this rohe (district).
  • On 14 May 2008, New Zealand's Parliament adopted legislation which transferred the ownership of Mauao from the Crown to local iwi, Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui and Ngati Pukenga. The land had been alienated following the New Zealand wars of 1864.
  • In July 2013 Tauranga City Council supported the establishment of a new Mauao Joint Board to manage the historic reserve. 


This page was archived at Perma cc March 2017

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Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao by Debbie McCauley