The sea lies close to the hearts of many New Zealanders and Pacific Island people. Several stories out of the 16 in this anthology are set close to the sea. The title story is a retelling of the Maori legend about Maui hauling the North Island (Te Ika a Maui) from the depths of the sea, while standing in his canoe, the South Island (Te Waka a Maui). This story was written by David Hill.
The range of themes in the anthology is broad, from retellings of Maori legends to contemporary tales, from history to science fiction and fantasy. Ken Catran describes a future world threatened by rising sea levels, while Tessa Duder tells of an emotional family picnic at the beach. Sereima Lumelume describes a devastating flood in Fiji, Kingi McKinnon writes about a monster eel, and my own story is about a boy trying to cope with the death of his older brother in a car crash.
The anthology was produced to mark New Zealand's hosting of International Children's Book Day on 2 April 2007. This annual celebration was set up by IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People), an organisation dedicated to the promotion of books for children. Every year the celebration is hosted by a different country. As well as producing the anthology, book-related events were organised round New Zealand, and a magnificent poster for International Children's Book Day 2007 was commissioned from Zak Waipara. For further information, contact the Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust.
Tessa and I hope this anthology provides a glimpse into the cultures of New Zealand and some of its Pacific Island neighbours. It was a privilege to work with experienced contributors such as David Hill, Ken Catran, Joy Cowley and Anthony Holcroft, and a particular pleasure to work with emerging Maori and Pacific Island writers such as Tim Tipene, Sarona Aiono-Iosefa, and Dan Taulapapa McMullin.
How many different versions can you find of the story about Maui hauling New Zealand out of the sea?