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100+ books for your NZ bird puppets & 40 story baskets

Updated: May 26, 2023

One of the many things I LOVE about the community in exploring why I are the questions that snowball and inspire.

Nicky posted with a picture of her newly purchased Aotearoa birds and asked if anyone knew where to get a moa. I was like YES! As I had been looking for a moa for over a year!! Within an hour we had an answer and I had ordered mine BUT then a list of books was requested and this is where the inspiration and sharing took off!!

We soon had a list of books, photos of story baskets and bookish play. This blog brings all of what was shared together in one spot to come back to.

The birds or manu of New Zealand are unique to this country and feature in many whakapapa narratives or pūrākau. They are messengers, companions, collaborators and transformational in many stories with Maui (who transforms into a wood pigeon), Atua and in their own right. Children find comfort and mindfulness in watching them alive in their surroundings and in the pages of books. Native birds also feature in nonfiction books to books about counting and everyday events.

Let’s begin with the book titles shared:

Pūrākau :

Hinepau, by Gavin Bishop

Monoa and the birds by Ron Bacon

Rewa finds his wings, by Tim Tipene

Roimata’s cloak by Esther Tamehana

The Clay woman


He miharo te manu (Native Birds)

In the bush

NZ Birds, by Dave Gunson

Tea for Tui, by Rosemary Tully

The life cycle of a kiwi, by Betty Brownlie


1-2-3 Bird! (& in te reo Māori)

A booming in the night

A pukeko in a ponga tree

Down in the garden

Flit the fantail series: Flit the Fantail and the Flying Flop, Flit the Fantail and the Matariki map and Flit the Fantail and the mystery eggs (also in te reo Maaori).

Grasshopper’s week, by Tania Norfolk

Ka Pai Kiwi Favourites puts a Kiwi spin on beloved songs, The Kiwi Hokey Tokey; The Kiwi Go Marching One By One; Row, Kiwi, Row Your Boat; If You're a Kiwi and You Know It.

Kiwi critters series by Donna Blaber

Little kiwi series: Little kiwi finds fantail, Time for sleep little kiwi, Little kiwi, whose nest id best?, Little kiwi counts the chicks, Little kiwi looks after the eggs, Little kiwi is scared of the dark , Little kiwi and the dinosaur, Little kiwi has a forest feast, Little kiwi meets a monster, Little kiwi loses his Mum, Little kiwi and the noisy morning, Little kiwi and the goodnight sing-song and Little kiwi flies to the rescue.

Pee Wee the Kiwi series: Pee wee the lonely kiwi, Pee Wee The Kiwi All Blacks Adventure and Pee Wee the Kiwi’s Big New Zealand Adventure Sounds Book

Perky the Pukeko series: by, Michelle Osment


Pūkeko, by Marie Langley

Takahē trouble, by Sally Sutton

The cuckoo and the warbler , by Kennedy Warne

The indigo bird, by Helen Taylor

The thief of colours, by Ben Brown

This little kiwi went to market , by Renee Chin

This old ram

The wheels on the bus (+ bilingual)

Time to sleep, by Annemarie Florian

Wacko Kakapo

We’re off to find a kiwi, by Juliette MacIver

Who said kiwis can’t fly, by Lisa Hamilton Gibbs

Janet Martin’s books: Abigail the fantail, Tania takahe, Emily the kiwi, Molly the morepork, Kiri the kereru, Louie the tui and Noah the moa.

Now the story baskets and bookish play.

Nicky bought her puppets but you could be lucky enough to get some second hand. Before COVID I discovered that I saw more Aussie animals in second-hand shops than New Zealand ones and Australians saw more New Zealand ones. You will see that I have used the same puppets in some of my story baskets but I have also used felt, knitted and crocheted puppets too. I have also improvised and used wooden puzzles and soft toys.

You can mix and match your birds and I have learnt over the years from making and teaching how to make story baskets that you do not have to have all the birds or be literal with a story basket. Children can and will use their imagination to bring a story to life and retell a story.

Wooden kiwi shapes and disks with stickers for counting the 10 Kooky kiwi. Story stones also work well.

A popular book and story basket with puppets, soft toys and wooden kiwi. You can also get a Manukura, white kiwi.

Wood buddies were use as the Ruru and Kiwi.

In my e-pattern for Rata and the waka you can make story stones for a storybasket. I am going to use the same stones in a story basket for Batkiwi.

My moa arrived and now to make some story baskets for it! I had We’re going on a moa hunt and asked for other titles and was able to add to my list, which I have above. Next I would like to make a story basket for books suggested by members: Noah the moa and Pee Wee the lonely kiwi.

What I LOVE about this is that the same resources, the birds can be used over and over with different books. This fits well with my FREE foundation box e-book that shares items you can use over and over in a story basket. With the BONUS of being able to fit it all in an A4 box.

Last but not least there also some songs or waiata you can sing with your puppets:

Manu iti i runga te rākau I runga te rākau I runga te rākau Manu iti i runga te rākau Waiata mai ki āhau

Little bird up in the tree up in the tree, up in the tree. Little bird up in the tree Sing a song to me

Two little tīwaiwaka (fantail) sitting on a wall, one name…. and the other named….

Fly way …… fly away…….

Come back…. Come back……

Hopefully you will be lucky enough to find second hand puppets, toys or puzzles and if not invest in them as you can see, they can be used over and over again in book play and story baskets.

Until next time.


P.S. there are affiliate links and if you use them I may get some money at no extra cost to you.

P.S.S. we got our Moa from the Otago museum shop

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