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Margaret Mahy's message to children 2006

A message to the children of the world from Margaret Mahy of New Zealand

The 2007 sponsor is Storylines IBBY NZ Section. Message by Margaret Mahy; poster by Zak Waipara.

I will never forget learning to read. Back when I was really small, words scurried past my eyes like little black beetles trying to get away from me. But I was too clever for them. I learned to recognise them no matter how fast they ran. And at last – at last I was able to open books and understand what was written there. I was able to read stories and jokes and poems all by myself.

Mind you, there were some surprises. Reading gave me power over stories, but, in a way, it also gave stories power over me. I have never been able to get away from them. That is part of the mystery of reading.

You open the book, take in the words and the good story explodes inside you. Those black beetles running in straight lines across the white page, turn first into words you can understand and then into magical images and events. Though certain stories seem to have nothing to do with real life… though they melt into surprises of all kinds, and stretch possibility this way and that as if it were a rubber band, in the end good stories bring us back to ourselves. They are made up of words, and all human beings are anxious to have adventures with words.

Most of us begin as listeners. When we are babies our mothers and fathers play with us, reciting rhymes, touching our toes, (This little pig went to market) or clapping our hands, (Pat-a-cake! Pat-a-cake). Games with words are spoken aloud and, as very small children, we listen and laugh at them. Later, we learn to read that black print on the flat page, and, even when we read in silence, a certain voice is there too. Whose voice is it? It might be your own voice – the reader’s voice, but it is more than that. It is the voice of story, speaking from inside the reader’s head.

Of course there are many ways in which stories are told these days. Films and television have tales to tell, but they do not use language in the way books do. Authors who work on television or film scripts are often told to cut back on the words. ‘Let the pictures tell the story,’ say the experts. We watch television with other people, but when we read we mostly read alone.

We live in a time when the world is crowded with books. It is part of the reader’s journey to search through them by reading and then reading again. It is part of the reader’s adventure to find in that wild jungle of print, some story that will leap up like a magician… some story that is so exciting and mysterious that the reader is changed by it. I think every reader lives for the moment when the everyday world shifts a little, giving way to some new joke, some new idea, some new possibility given a truth of its own by the power of words. ‘Yes, that is true!’ cries that voice inside us. ‘I recognise you!’  Isn’t reading exciting!


Te râ whakanui pukapuka mâ te tamariki o te ao, 2007

E kore rawa e warewaretia e au taku ako ki te pânui. 

I te wâ e tino pakupaku tonu ana au, ka takawhiti mai ngâ kupu i mua i ôku karu, pçnâ i te pîtara pango iti e whakamâtau nei ki te oma atu i a au.

Engari, he mâtau rawa au mô aua kupu râ. I ako au i ngâ kupu râ kia tino môhio au ki ô râtou âhua ahakoa pçhea te tere o tâ râtou oma. Nâwai râ, â, ka tae rawa ake te wâ i taea e au te whakatuwhera pukapuka, â, i mârama anô au ki ngâ kôrero i tuhia.

I taea e au te pânui i te pûrâkau, te kôrero paki me te rotarota, ko au anake. Heoi anô, i puta mai hoki çtahi âhuatanga kâhore i whakaarotia e au. Nâ te môhio ki te pânui ko au te rangatira o ngâ kôrero i pânuitia, engari, i çtahi wâ anô, i riro kç au i te hâ o ngâ kôrero i pânuitia. Kua kore rawa e taea e au te whakarere i te pukapuka. Koia râ tçtahi o ngâ mea mîharo o tçnei mea te pânui. 

Ka whakatuwhera koe i te pukapuka, ka pânui i ngâ kupu, â, ka pahû mai te kôrero rawe i roto tonu i a koe.  Ko aua pîtara pango anô râ ka oma tika tonu ra, whiti atu i te whârangi mâ, â, ka huri tuatahitia hei kupu e mârama ana ki a koe, kâtahi ka hurihia hei ataata mîharo, hei tûâhua mîharo anô hoki. Ahakoa te âhua o te kore hângai o çtahi kôrero ki te oranga tûturu o te tangata … ko tâ te kôrero pai he whakaohorere, he kukume pçnei, pçnâ rânei i te tûponotanga ânô nei he hererapa te tûponotanga, heoi, i te mutunga iho, ko tâ te kôrero pai he whakahoki i a tâtou ki a tâtou anô. Hangaia ai te kôrero i te kupu, â, ko ngâ tângata katoa e hiahia ana ki te pâhekoheko tahi ki ngâ kupu.    

Tîmata ai te nuinga o tâtou hei kaiwhakarongo. I a tâtou e pçpi tonu ana, pâhekoheko tahi ai ô tâtou mâmâ, me ô tâtou pâpâ ki a tâtou, ka taki ruriruri râtou, ka whakapâ i ô tâtou matimati, (I haere atu tçnei kuao poaka ki te mâkete), ka pakipaki rânei i ô tâtou ringaringa. (Pat-a-cake! Pat-a-cake!). Ka whakahuatia çtahi kçmu kupu, â, i a tâtou e pakupaku ana, ka whakarongo, ka katakata hoki tâtou ki çnâ.  Nâwai râ, ka ako tâtou ki te pânui i ngâ kupu pango i runga i te whârangi paparahi, â, i ngâ wâ ka pânui â karu tâtou i aua kupu kei reira tonu tçtahi reo. Nô wai taua reo? Tçnâ pea, nôu kç te reo – arâ, te reo o te kaipânui, engari he mea anô kei tua atu. Koia râ te reo o te kôrero, e kôrero ana mai i roto tonu i te hinengaro o te kaipânui.

Heoi anô, he nui tonu ngâ huarahi hei whakaatu i te kôrero i çnei râ. Whakaatu ai te kiriata me te pouaka whakaata i te kôrero, otirâ, he rerekç tâ râua whakamahinga i te reo i tâ te pukapuka whakamahinga.  Ko ngâ kaituhi ka tuhi i te tuhinga pouaka whakaata, i te tuhinga kiriata rânei ka whakahaua auautia ki te whakapoto i te nui o ngâ kupu. ‘Waiho, mâ ngâ pikitia te kôrero e whakaatu,’ te kî a ngâ tohunga. Mâtakitaki ai tâtou i te pouaka whakaata i te taha o çtahi atu, heoi, ina pânui tâtou, ka pânui takitahi kç tâtou i te nuinga o te wâ.   

Noho ai tâtou i tçtahi wâ, e puhake ana te ao i te pukapuka. Ko tâ te kaipânui he whiriwhiri pukapuka mâ te pânui me te pânui anô. Ko te mâtâtoa a te kaipânui he kimi i roto i te ngahere tuhinga i tçtahi kôrero ka tarapeke ki runga pçrâ i te kaitûmatarau… i tçtahi kôrero tino tôiriiri, tino mîharo hoki, e whakaawetia ai te kaipânui. Ki ôku whakaaro, tatari ai ia kaituhi mô te wâ ka whakarerekçtia te âhua o te ao o nâianei i te mana o te kupu, e puta mai ai tçtahi paki hou, tçtahi whakaaro hou, te tûponotanga rânei o tçtahi huarahi hou. “Âe, e pono ana!” te tangi o te reo kei roto i tçnâ, i tçnâ o tâtou. ‘E mâtau ana au ki a koe!’ Kâtahi te mahi tôiriiri ko te pânui!


About the 2007 International Children’s Book Day poster by Zak Waipara.

A circular frame provides a window onto the unique New Zealand landscape, illustrating the motto Stories ring the world.

Ranginui and Papatûânuku (the Mâori sky-father and earth-mother) are represented as carved figures embracing a world alive with the rich traditions of Aotearoa-New Zealand.

Mountains, the sun and moon, are personified, legendary monsters prowl the forests, and the human element is depicted as part of this natural world, not separate from it.

The central tree symbolises Tâne Mahuta, God of the forest, who created the world of light by separating his parents Ranginui and Papatûânuku; planting his shoulders to the earth and pushing up the sky with his feet like a powerful tree. Kôpûwai, the giant dog-headed monster, rises above the horizon, while in the foreground Hatupatu runs past whare whakairo (traditional carved houses), pursued by Kurangaituku, the bird-woman.

A patupaiarehe (sprite child) and his friend the tuatara peer out from one side of the frame. On the other side another ancient survivor – a wçtâ – looks down on a tiny creature grovelling in the undergrowth: Gollum from The Lord of the Rings, the story that has recently made the New Zealand landscape known worldwide through Peter Jackson’s film version. 

Below the frame a beetle crawls on the letter ‘D’, one of Margaret Mahy’s ‘black beetles’ – her first impression of text creeping across the page, before she learnt to read.


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