Counting the Stars

Retold by Gavin Bishop

Illustrated by Gavin Bishop

Published by Random House, 2009

ISBN: 978 1 86979 072 1

  • Shortlisted for Storylines Notable NZ Books: Non-fiction (2010)

NZC activities for this picture book here.

This book is a collection of four Maori myths which are accompanied by striking illustrations showing clear New Zealand images including New Zealand flora and fauna and beach and bush landscapes.  Mother Earth and Father Sky tells the traditional Maori story of creation, and how the two lovers Earth (Papatuanuku) and Sky (Ranginui) came to be separated by Tanemahuta, God of the Forest. The Battle of the Birds tells the story of the disagreement between the forest kawau and the coastal kawau and how each formed their own army of forest and sea birds and battled for their place, in the bush or on the sea. Kae and the Whale tells the story of Tinirau’s revenge on Kae, after he steals and eats Tinirau’s treasured whale, Tutunui. Hinemoa and Tutanekai relates Hinemoa’s great love for Tutanekai, and of how she swims to be with him, across what is now Lake Rotorua.

Summary written by Marion McKoy

Book cover used with permission of publisher