Tane Steals the Show Activities

Tane steals the show

written by Lino Nelisi

illustrated by G. Hunter

published by Scholastic, 1997

Young Tane feels left out and unwanted when everyone else has something to practise for Uncle Kokela’s wedding on Saturday. He tries to join in with the big boys doing the meke, but they say he is too little. He tries to join in with the girls doing the hula, but they say he can’t because he is a boy. The men don’t want him drumming or playing the ukelele and the women don’t want him singing with them. Poor Tane watches them and learns anyway, and on Saturday he ‘steals the show’ by getting up and performing with the boys, the girls, the men and the women at Uncle Kokela’s wedding. Everybody loves it and the illustrations show how proud Tane feels. This story shows what it feels like to be small and overlooked – a theme which most children can relate to. It also provides insight into the roles and traditions in Pacific Island cultural celebrations.

Please note that these activities are suggestions which have not yet been trialled. We welcome any feedback on how they play out in the classroom (see the feedback section).

NZ Curriculum Level 1 ,2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing
Activity In this story we read about some traditional Pacific island music and dance, and we see how it is used in celebration – at Uncle Kokela’s wedding. We also find out about traditional male/ female roles in Pacific Island culture.  Children will be interested to find out more about these, and some children will bring prior knowledge about these cultural practices, particularly those of Pacific Island descent themselves.

1. After reading, look through the story again and identify the 4 types of music and dance and establish whether it is male or female:

meke: a traditional Fijian dance – can be male or female, however men and women may not perform it together

hula (female):a dance form accompanied by chant or song. It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. The chant or song is called a mele. The hula dramatises or comments on the mele.

music made using drums and ukeleles (male)

singing (female)

  • At Level 2 and 3, discuss these traditional male/ female roles and why they may be assigned as such.

2. Ask the children if they have ever seen or participated in music and dancing like the ones we see in the story? Discuss.

3. Search online to find examples of the meke and the hula. Here are some good links on youtube:

The meke:




The hula:

(also talks about the history of the hula)



After watching each video clip, stop and discuss the music and movements that are seen. Write them up somewhere for everyone to see, so you are creating a kind of ‘definition’ of each dance.

4. Play through each clip again and encourage children to have a go at copying the movements they see. Use different kinds of drums to try and imitate the beats and rhythms they can hear.

  • Internet access – www.youtube.com
Taking it further
  • Find some traditional music and send children away in groups to put together their own dance, incorporating some of the moves they have seen on the video clips. Practise and perform to the class (Music/ Dance)
  • Invite family members who know these art forms to come to class and share their music and dance (Music/ Dance)
  • Children could make their own Pacific Island costumes to wear while performing. Use long strips of paper to make the grass skirts and girls could put flowers in their hair (Visual Art)
Curriculum Links The Arts


  • demonstrate an awareness of dance in their lives and in their communities (Level 1)
  • improvise and explore movement ideas in response to a variety of stimuli (Level 1)
  • share dance movement through informal presentation and share their thoughts and feelings in response to their own and others’ dances (Level 1)
  • identify and describe dance in their lives and in their communities (Level 2)
  • use the elements of dance in purposeful ways to respond to a variety of stimuli (Level 2)
  • share dance movement through informal presentation and identify the use of the elements of dance (Level 2)
  • explore and describe dances from a variety of cultures (Level 3)
  • select and combine dance elements response to a variety of stimuli (Level 3)
  • use the elements of dance to describe dance movements and respond to dances from a variety of cultures (Level 3)


  • explore and share ideas about music from a range of sound environments and recognise that music serves a variety of purposes and functions in their lives and in their communities (Level 1 and 2)
  • share music making with others; respond to live and recorded music (Level 1 and 2)
  • identify and describe the characteristics of music associated with a range of sound environments, in relation to historical, social and cultural contexts (Level 3)
  • prepare and present brief performances of music, using performance skills and techniques; respond to and reflect on live and recorded music (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above At higher levels, the emphasis could be on defining the elements of Pacific Island music and dance, and using these elements as the basis for their own music and dance compositions, with increasing complexity.

Activity 2: TAPA DESIGNS (The Arts)
NZ Curriculum Level 1, 2 & 3

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • managing self
Activity At Uncle Kokela’s wedding at the end of the story, we see Tane and the men wearing skirts showing tapa designs.

Wikipedia says:

Tapa cloth (or simply tapa) is a bark cloth made in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, primarily in Tonga, Samoa and Fiji, but as far afield as Java, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea (particularly in Oro Province around Tufi) and Hawaiʻi (where it is called kapa). Tapa can be painted. The patterns of Tongan, Samoan, and Fijian tapa usually form a grid of squares, each of which contains geometrical patterns with repeated motifs such as fish and plants, for example four stylised leaves forming a diagonal cross. Traditional dyes are usually black and rust-brown, although other colours are also known.

In former times the cloth was primarily used for clothing, but now cotton and other textiles have replaced it. The major problem with tapa clothing is that the tissue is just like paper: it loses all its strength when wet and falls apart. Still it was better than grass-skirts, which usually are either heavier and harder or easily blown apart, but on the low coral atolls where the mulberry does not grow, people had no choice.

Nowadays tapa is still often worn on formal occasions such as weddings. Another use is as blanket at night. It is also highly prized for its decorative value and is often found used to hang on the walls as a decoration. In Tonga a family is considered poor, no matter how much money they have, if they do not have any tapa in stock at home to donate at life crises like marriages, funerals and so forth. If the tapa was donated to them by a chief or even the royal family, it is more valuable.

  • At Level 3, students could investigate the purposes of these tapa cloth, and reasons why they are valued highly within Pacific Island culture.

1. Look at the tapa designs in the book. Ask children:

  • What do you know about these patterns?
  • Do you have anything like this at home? Discuss.

Discuss the repeated shapes and patterns. Look at some other examples of tapa cloth designs:

http://www.google.co.nz/images?q=tapa+cloth+imagesTalk about the layout and the repetition of the design. Identify some of the main pictures and symbols that are see used, eg. fish, plants, leaves forming a cross.

2. Tell students that they are going to create their own tapa desiergn. First, practice making the shapes on scrap paper, using crayon, pencil, pastel and paint.

3. Children can begin their own designs when they feel confident about the shapes and patterns they are going to use.

On a sheet of A3 paper, fold so that there are smaller squares to work in

  • At Level 1, less is better – 8 squares would be plenty
  • At Level 2 or 3, 12 or more squares could be used. The more squares there are, the more detailed and complicated the design will be

4. Using pencil, students can begin planning their art work. When design is complete, add black lines to fill and emphasise the designs. The background will need to be in light or dark brown, or a mixture of both (see examples).

Colour could be added using any of the following mediums: crayon and dye, paint, ink, pastel

5. When artwork is finished, share and talk about designs and how they are similar or different to traditional tapa cloth design. They would make a fabulous display!

  • Internet access
  • Examples of tapa design
  • Large paper
  • Pencils, black markers
  • Crayon, dye, paint, ink, pastels (optional)
Curriculum Links The Arts

Visual Art

  • share ideas about how and why their own and others’ works are made and their purpose, value and context (Level 1 & 2)
  • explore a variety of materials and tools and discover elements and selected principles (Level 1 & 2)
  • investigate visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation and imagination (Level 1)
  • investigate and develop visual ideas in response to a variety of motivations, observation and imagination (Level 2)
  • investigate the purpose of objects and images from past and present cultures and identify the contexts in which they were or are made, viewed, and valued (Level 3)
  • explore some art-making conventions, applying knowledge of elements and selected principles through the use of materials and processes (Level 3)
  • develop and revisit visual ideas, in response to a variety of motivations, observation, and imagination, supported by the study of artists’ work (Level 3)
Taking it further Try using print making techniques to create a repetitive tapa cloth design.
Applications for Level 4 and above At Level 6, students need to consider the relationships between the production of tapa cloths and their contexts and influences. They will need to develop and refine their work, adding greater detail and using more complex art-making techniques (for example, screen printing). At Level 7, students need to research and analyse the influences of contexts on the characteristics and production of art works.
NZ Curriculum Level 1 & 2

(see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
Activity In the story, Tane is not wanted by the women, the men, the girls or the boys. He doesn’t have a place in the wedding preparations.

1. After reading the story, look back through the illustrations and talk about how Tane might be feeling throughout the story. Look at how his face shows us how he is feeling, as well as the words in the story (“Tane … backs away with tears in his eyes.”) Identify words and phrases to show how Tane was feeling: left out, lonely, unwanted, not important or special. These are feelings that we can all relate to at times.

2. Invite children to talk about their own experiences of feeling left out. Close your eyes and visualise that time. Where were you? What were you doing? Who else was there? What did they say to you? etc…

Talk about this time with a buddy and then share some stories as a class (be aware that some children may not want to share in front of the class).

  • At Level 2, a good challenge is to try to talk about the feelings without using ‘feeling words’. For example, instead of saying “I felt sad”, they might say: ” I felt a lump in my throat that stopped me from talking. My chest was heavy and my shoulders drooped as I wanted to run away all on my own.”

3. After much talking and oral planning, children can move away and begin writing their stories. These could be left as they are and shared or not, or they could be taken through the editing and publishing process. A class book could be made – work together as a class to make up a title that fits.

Taking it further Try writing about other feelings – can you find other picture books which help us to think about certain feelings?
Curriculum Links English

Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise and identify ideas within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 1)
  • select, form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 2)
Applications for Level 3 and above At Level 3 and above, students can still be encouraged to talk and write about emotions. They may prefer to write from a third person perspective, drawing on their own experiences to help them write in increasing detail, using more language features as levels progress.
Links to other books in NZPBC Old Hu-Hu

Taming the taniwha

– both books explore feelings