Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold by Māori Writers

A review of Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold by Māori Writers.

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Edited by Witi Ihimaera and Whiti Hereaka (Penguin Random House NZ)

Pūrākau is a rich collection of gems from Māori writers, Māori poets and Māori artists. Short stories and poems are carefully arranged to take the  reader on a journey along the tokotoko of the kaikōrero, using residual and long-held beliefs and understandings that are immediately turned upside-down – in a good way.

The story of Ranginui and Papatūānuku becomes the story of a  dysfunctional family, with all the embellishments that situation creates in a contemporary context. The whānau of Māui-tikitiki-a-Taranga live in an apartment with their single mother. Māui the trickster visits Hollywood as an ex-rugby league player cut from the NRL, while Hinepūkohurangi encourages Uenuku to explore his artistic talents. Kaitiaki see the future and provide advice going forward. Taniwha battle Ātua on behalf of the humans in their care, while Patupaiarehe, Ponaturi and Tūrehu attend a City Council meeting to advocate against a proposed housing project on their whenua.

Lessons are interspersed throughout Pūrakau, along with opportunities to apply the whakaaro of old to everyday living. An interesting and easy read that promotes Māori stories as actual events within Māori history, here and in Hawaiki. – Laures Park

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