I only heard about Matariki over the last couple of years - mostly through children's books. Matariki is the Māori name for a cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. Matariki literally means the 'eyes of god' (mata ariki) or 'little eyes' (mata riki). (Teara, 2016). Over the last couple of years, it has been celebrated more widespread and teachers often teach a unit study on it every year.
Mirama Kamo set the story in Birdling's Flat, as it is a setting she is familiar with - her family have had a bach there for many years. The wild environment and starry skies stirred her to write a story/myth about the stars in the Matariki constellation.
The Stolen Stars of Matariki is a picture book story about two children, Sam and Te Rerehua, visiting their Grandma and Pōua at Te Mata Hāpuku (Birdling’s Flat). While collecting agate and fishing for eels from the beach they look up at the stars and their Grandma tells them stories. One night their Grandma notices two Matariki stars are missing from the constellation. They suspect the naughty
Miriama has expertly told the story within a story from the point of view of two children. Inspired by childhood memories of eeling and storytelling with her grandparents. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book are donated to the restoration of the lake, Te Roto o Waiwera. It's an eye-catching book with Zak Waipara's stylised artwork. He created the illustrations with watercolour paint and pencil, and Adobe illustrator using a Wacom tablet.
Miriama Kamo is an award-winning journalist. She is the anchor of TVNZ’s flagship current affairs programme Sunday and Māori current affairs programme Marae. Miriama has worked on many of TVNZ’s key programmes including 1 News at 6 as a newsreader. She is also a keen writer who has published in Metrol, NZ Herald and The Spinoff and is currently trying her hand at writing a screenplay. This is her first book with Scholastic NZ.
Zak Waipara is a former NZ Herald graphic artist and HOD of Animation at Animation College. Zak
Waipara (Rongowhakaata, Ngati Porou, Ngati Ruapani, Ngati Kahungunu) is now a Digital Media lecturer at AUT. He has worked as a designer for Māori Television’s children’s show Miharo, illustrated comics and a range of books, and created animated music videos. He is the illustrator of Horeta and the Waka (Scholastic NZ). Born in Milton, in the South Island, Zak now lives in Auckland.
Stuff article about Miriama Kamo's book.