by Mere Whaanga-Schollum
Auckland, New Zealand: Ashton Scholastic
Tangaroa’s Gift is the story of how the paua came to have his beautiful colours.
Sad and lonely Paua wants to be as beautiful as the other sea creatures. So Tangaroa (god of the sea) gifts him with colours taken from nature: “… the coolest blues from the ocean, the freshest greens of the forest, a tinge of violet from the dawn, a blush of pink from the sunset, and over all a shimmer of mother of pearl.” However the other sea creatures become jealous and make fun of Paua, so Tangaroa coats him in a rock-like outer shell, so that he can keep all his beauty for himself alone.
This book was nominated for the collection because it demonstrates the Pasifika theme of connection between land and sea. It also presents a deeper message – that beauty comes from within.
Tangaroa’s Gift was a finalist in the 1991 AIM Children’s Book Awards, as well as the 1991 NZLA Russell Clark Award for Illustration and the Esther Glen Award for Literature.
A New Zealand Curriculum-linked activity for this picture book can be found here.