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12 story baskets to support and celebrate te reo Māori.

Updated: May 26, 2023

It is nearly Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori 2020 and thought it was timely to share story baskets I have created during the year to support and strengthen te reo Māori in the hope to inspire you to make one or five of your own!

The beauty of a story basket is that is has a book to support all those who are learning te reo Māori. The items in a story basket help to bring the book alive and I believe give more meaning and connection.

Ka kohi te toi, ka whai te maramatanga.

If knowledge is gathered, enlightenment will follow.

There are so many great books now for the beginner to the intermediate speaker so you can grow your kupu (vocabulary) and confidence.

Remembering the key to a good story basket is using a book that is familiar and the children have heard a few times or they have a strong interest within it.

Here are 12 story baskets I have selected from many more that I have made for the beginner, story basket maker and te reo Māori speaker to the more experienced. There are plenty more on This is why I teach .ec

The first books you may want to use are ones that are mainly in English with some Māori words added (is there a special name for this type of book?) like the Nanny Mihi series or Aunty Bea’s. For the beginner it introduces Māori kupu gently and naturally into a story. As a beginner this gives confidence. If you are stuck on pronunciation then you can use the Māori dictionary.

I have kept these story baskets fairly simple. Nanny Mihi invites children to add coloured items to the story basket just as Nanny Mihi invited her mokopuna too. One day a taniwha is a beautiful waiata and comes with a CD. A pukeko in a ponga tree has more items as there are more kupu in the book. This is a great one for Christmas time.

I would also include in beginner te reo Māori books whakapapa narratives like the fish of Maui, How Maui slowed the sun by Peter Gossage (which are now available in te reo Māori and would be found in the next section of books) or Gavin Bishop. There are also some new comers like Tim Tipene (Ngati Kuri, Ngati Whatua) and Donovan Bixley.

With the whakapapa narratives I have tried to keep the items in the story basket natural and with many of items sourced from nature or made by hand.

There are now also bi-cultural books with CD’s and waiata. These are great for a beginner but a cautionary word with CD’s is that as a teacher you can become reliant on them and not weave the te reo Māori into your practice. I try and use the sentence in the pukapuka in my practice or everyday conversations.

Peter Millet has number of books with Jay Laga'aia singing, Pio Terei has sung to a few other books and Rebecca Larsen has a number of great books too.

There are also dual language books with English on one page and Māori on the other or bi-cultural which have the book all in English and then all in Māori. Some dual book are also flip books that have English on one side and you flip the book to have Māori on the other, these are mainly Ministry of Education books. A great one to start with is Kei te Pehea Koe? How do you feel?

Now there also tri-lingual books with NZSL. A series called Korero Mai a board book set and Sharon Holt's books are some I have seen but as yet not made into story baskets.

For the intermediate speaker there are books solely in te reo Māori. I have used many that are translated classics like Kei hea te Hipi Kakariki? Where is the green sheep? and new books Ko Flit te Tīrairaka Te Rerena i Hē Flit the fantail and the flying flop.

It is exciting to see more whakapapa or cultural narratives that are written in te reo Nga Taniwha i te Whanga-nui-a-tara being published and I have just begun to make story baskets for these pukapuka as I feel confident enough in my te reo Māori and tikanga to do so. I am also engaging with mana whenua in order to learn and share local cultural narratives that may not be represented in books.

There are 5 stages to second language acquisition. As adults who are new to a language or monolingual, we are sequential bilingual learners. But children when introduced early can be exposed to two languages at the same time and be simultaneous bilingual learners. Even though these stages are for children you can see that they are also helpful for adults too.

What stage are you in? How can you increase and support your use of te reo Māori for yourself and the children in your early childhood setting?

I have a word sent to me each day by email and the word is used in a sentence with a link to hear it too. You can sign up here- this has increased my te reo Māori considerably.

Until next time.


There are Affiliate links contained in this blog and if you buy a book then I will get a small commission.

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