Mihi by Gavin Bishop @geckopress “Mihi / mihimihi / pepeha: introducing yourself and making connections to other” people and places.

Posted: August 11, 2020 in Pre-school
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By Gavin Bishop

ISBN 9781776573028

Gecko Press


Gavin Bishop and Gecko Press bring us a deceptively simple Te Reo Maori baby board book but one that says so much.

I love the book for its simplicity, illustrations and message, that as Gavin explains, “Whakapapa and a sense of place is enormously important in Te Ao Maori” . Knowing where we come from and having a sense of belonging that goes way back to our ancestors is a powerful tool to carry with us in our lives and for Maori it is especially important as it is not just family and people, but the land, mountains and rivers too.

Mihi is a simple book to share with babies and talk about their whānau and place in the world. Repeating colours and shapes show the connections between waka, mountain, iwi through to mama, papa and the baby reader. This book is an introduction for children of any age to their own pepeha—and to the idea of a pepeha.

I was lucky to be able to ask Gavin some questions about his latest book. Keep reading to see what he says.

  1. Mihi and Pepeha are often mentioned in books on Maori culture but this is the first one I have seen with Mihi as a focus, and aimed particularly for young children. Why do you think it has taken so long for this to happen?

Whakapapa and a sense of place is enormously important in Te Ao Maori. I have no idea why this has not been done before, in this format. Like all good ideas it seems so obvious once they have been done. “Why didn’t someone do this before?” everyone says.

  1. Do you think there has been a shift in what is being published these days for children, in regards to Maori culture, including books in Te Reo Maori and bilingual books? If so, is it enough or do we need to do more?

This is something that is slowly finding its place in the literature of Aotearoa. Like many early attempts of anything, some of the first publications, especially ones for children, looking at tikanga Maori have been a bit ham-fisted. In a way, like the rest of the literature from this country, it has to be given time to find its feet and grow. It can’t be forced. it will happen of its own accord and the end result will be much more worthwhile.

  1. Even though this is a baby board book, when showing it to a group of teachers, they were all very keen to see it being used with primary school children.

           It’s a baby’s book, first and foremost, but a good children’s book is for everyone.

  1. It would be great if Mihi becomes part of a series; perhaps looking at tikanga? Are you planning anymore?

   I would certainly like to see this become a series. Nothing has been planned yet but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.


I think Mihi is a very special baby book and it needs to be out there in homes, libraries, and preschools.


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