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Rarotonga-based author to release ‘Kūki ‘Airani’

Wednesday 25 January 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Art, Features

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Rarotonga-based author to release ‘Kūki ‘Airani’
On February 15, Oratia Books will be launching a new series of books about the Pacific Islands, aimed at school readers and visitors. The first title is Cook Islands – Kūki ‘Airani, written in Cook Islands Māori and English by Jean Tekura Mason. 23012409

Cook Islands, Rarotonga-based author Jean Tekura Mason’s book, Kūki ‘Airani, written in Cook Islands Māori and English will be launched next month.

On February 15, Mason’s book together with the book Samoa written by Dahlia Malaeulu will be the first two books in a bilingual series that will be launched.

According to a statement by Oratia Books, the first two books are by Pasifika authors and editors introducing the culture and landscapes of Polynesia.

Oratia Books will be launching the new series of books focused on the Pacific Islands, for school readers and visitors encouraging bilingual reading about the South Pacific to children in New Zealand and the islands.

The non-fiction books that kick off the series provide an introduction to two Polynesian island nations, aimed at readers aged eight and over but accessible by all ages, and produced by Pasifika creatives. 

 Mason said she was invited by the publisher about the project.

“I have always wanted to do something like this for young people in the Cook Islands and then Oratia’s request came.

“When I was a kid at school I wished we’d had a book like this. We don’t teach our own history enough in our schools,” she said.

She said it took about a month to write the book but it took about eight months to edit it in between her fulltime job and other projects.

She describes her experience as very enjoyable as she learnt something new every day.

However, she did face some challenges such as having the time and energy to work on it.

“Sometimes I’d have the time but not the energy and vice versa! When I finished the book it was too big and had to be condensed by half.

Although the book is intended for young people, I didn’t know how to speak in a young person’s voice; I apologise for that. It’s been a long time since I was a young person myself.” she said.

She said young people nowadays are smart and would have no trouble comprehending the work.

She added that the book is a good summary or entry into Cook Islands history and culture.

She acknowledged Carolyn Lagahetau (one of the editors at Oratia Publishers) and Rebecca Frey- another editor.

And Cindy Forbes, Makiuti Tongia, Nooroa Numanga, Teata Ateriano, her husband Brian Mason, her brother Peter Chapman and sister Poko Chapman, Sister Elizabeth Russell-Brown, and colleague Sally Voss.

“I really do appreciate the help of all these different people with their different skills and knowledge, each of whom helped to make this book better informed and therefore a better product.”

 Meanwhile, Oratia Books said the series is devised and delivered by Carolyn Lagahetau, Oratia’s Niuean-Kiwi editorial director.

The Moana Oceania Series aims to address the lack of good reading materials about the South Pacific not only in English but also in local languages. 

Mason’s English and Cook Islands Māori text of Cook Islands – Kūki ‘Airani outlines key aspects of life, culture and history in her country.  

This colourful paperback sets out the seven pillars of life in the Cook  Islands, with concise text on key aspects of the nation including  education, language, history, environment, art, sport and culture, states Oratia.

They further state that one important focus of this book and Sāmoa is how Pasifika peoples maintain and adapt their culture living in Aotearoa.  

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