Nikki Slade Robinson’s award-winning picture book, The Little Kiwi’s Matariki, is my favourite book to read around Matariki. In this book Nikki Slade Robinson introduced young children to Matariki through Kiwi and his friends in a simple yet fun way, using a mixture of English and te reo in the text. In Nikki’s latest book, Ruru’s Hangi, she introduces young children to the concept of a hangi as the creatures celebrate the arrival of Ruru’s babies.
Ruru has been sitting on her eggs for 30 days and 30 nights and on day 31 the eggs wriggle and hatch. Kiwi hears Ruru’s elated cries and goes to tell the other creatures in the forest. Kiwi has an idea to celebrate the arrival of Ruru’s babies and gets the other creatures to help out. They dig a hole and gather all of the things that they need to make a hangi. When the hangi is ready they call Ruru and they share the kai together to celebrate.
Ruru’s Hangi is a perfect introduction to the hangi for young children and is another wonderful bilingual text from Nikki Slade Robinson that is great to share with young children, especially preschoolers. Nikki introduces children to native birds and creatures, like the Tui, Katipo and Weka who all help to prepare the hangi. Nikki’s illustrations are fun with each of the creatures having a distinct personality. The Te Reo used is basic and weaves effortlessly in with the English, so this is a great book to share even if you know very little Te Reo. Nikki uses lots of repetition in the text, like:
‘Ka pai, perfect!’ they said. Shhh! Don’t tell Ruru!’
Nikki ends the book with a simple explanation of how to prepare a hangi, just like the creatures in the book have done. Ruru’s Hangi is a invaluable resource for early childhood centres and schools. It is a book that will be used by teachers and librarians around the country but also a book that children will love. Anyone who is looking for a wonderful bilingual story to share with their children should get a copy of Ruru’s Hangi.