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  • Published: 20 October 2020
  • ISBN: 9780143774990
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $45.00

Navigating the Stars

Maori Creation Myths

Maori myths retold.

From master storyteller Witi Ihimaera, a spellbinding and provocative retelling of traditional Maori myths for the twenty-first century.

In this milestone volume, Ihimaera traces the history of the Maori people through their creation myths. He follows Tawhaki up the vines into the firmament, Hine-titama down into the land of the dead, Maui to the ends of the earth, and the giants and turehu who sailed across the ocean to our shores . . . From Hawaiki to Aotearoa, the ancient navigators brought their myths, while looking to the stars — bright with gods, ancestors and stories — to guide the way.

‘Step through the gateway now to stories that are as relevant today as they ever were.’

  • Published: 20 October 2020
  • ISBN: 9780143774990
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $45.00

About the author

Witi Ihimaera

Witi Ihimaera was the first Maori to publish both a book of short stories and a novel, and has published many notable novels and collections of short stories. Described by Metro magazine as ‘Part oracle, part memoralist,’ and ‘an inspired voice, weaving many stories together’, Ihimaera has also written for stage and screen, edited books on the arts and culture, as well as published various works for children.

His best-known novel is The Whale Rider, which was made into a hugely, internationally successful film in 2002. His novel Nights in the Garden of Spain was also made into a feature film, and was distributed internationally under the name of Kawa. The feature film White Lies was based on his novella Medicine Woman. And his novel Bulibasha, King of the Gypsies inspired the 2016 feature film Mahana. His first book, Pounamu, Pounamu, has not been out of print in the 40 years since publication.

He has also had careers in diplomacy, teaching, theatre, opera, film and television. He has received numerous awards, including the Wattie Book of the Year Award, the Montana Book Award, the inaugural Star of Oceania Award, University of Hawaii, a laureate award from the New Zealand Arts Foundation 2009, the Toi Maori Maui Tiketike Award 2011, and the Premio Ostana International Award, presented to him in Italy 2010. In 2004 he became a Distinguished Companion of the Order of New Zealand, in 2017 France made him Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the same year he received the NZ Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement.

Receiving the Maori arts award Te Tohutiketike a Te Waka Toi, Ihimaera said, ‘To be given Maoridom’s highest cultural award, well, it’s recognition of the iwi. Without them, I would have nothing to write about and there would be no Ihimaera. So this award is for all those ancestors who have made us all the people we are. It is also for the generations to come, to show them that even when you aren’t looking, destiny has a job for you to do.’

Also by Witi Ihimaera

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Praise for Navigating the Stars

There is so much richness in this book I think I'll have to read it several times over . . . When you're reading this book you feel as though you are an active listener, you're sitting in the room and you hear all these voices inform the tale . . . I appreciate these interruptions because sometimes they're so funny . . . it's beautiful . . . the story is layered in so many different ways . . . I think that it's something that everyone should have in their library.

Michelle Rahurahu Scott, Radio NZ

It's a beautiful book that would look great in a Christmas stocking

Jesse Mulligan, Radio NZ

This is a beautiful book. Beautiful in its construction: the stunning cover art, the sturdy hardback, the end pages, the illustrations, photos, feel of the paper; beautiful in its contents: the strength and warmth of Witi Ihimaera’s narration; his cheekiness; his “right-there-at-your-shoulder-as-you-read” voice which weaves around you; the complexity of eons-old stories told as a parent to a child – with humour, with warning, with contemplation, and with authority. For me, the test of how good a book is, is measured by a) my need to keep it handy b) the impulse to underline, write out, photograph and send out key phrases on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, email and c) how much I grow as a result of my encounter. Navigating the Stars hits my trifecta. . . . Exciting stuff and classic Ihimaera skill: brilliant writing that rivals a Tolkien Mordor battle scene. . . . Nga mihi nui, e pa. Thank you, Witi (and nga mihi ki to papa as well). I am filled to over-flowing with the feasting on your korero; your voice is still singing in my ear. To everyone, everyone else: buy this book. Buy two – one to keep and one to gift. Whether you read Navigating the Stars cover to cover (recommended), or dip in and out as guided by the index (also recommended), you will not regret your reading journey.

T. K Roxborogh, Kete.co.nz

This is a book the author felt he was meant to create. He spreads out a rich blend of fact, fiction, and imaginary tales, including religion and much philosophy. There is nothing stilted or stiff about the writing. It is a very contemporary view of the Creation Myths of Maori, from an authentic point of view. The book is written like a script. It is easily followed, offering opinion and philosophical answers. It invites questions and offers answers to the source of the origin of Maori from Hawaiiki. The book reads rather like an open discussion where one can interrupt, to offer different opinions, but it outlines throughout the pages, the understanding of the basis of culture, from a modern, intelligent point of view. . . . This is not a heavy read. It is light hearted but provocative, carrying a depth of feeling and many messages. It will appeal to younger readers, better than previous heavy tomes about the “Coming of the Maori.” I recommend this to readers who want a fresh view of traditional Maori myths and legends, interpreted for the modern mind, as they try to understand their place in the world.

Sonia Edwards, nzbooklovers

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Ways into Witi Ihimaera's works

Writing about the Māori world, both rural and urban, often knocking into the Pākehā status quo, Witi Ihimaera’s writing has always offered a broader view of what New Zealand literature could be – should be – about. But with numerous short stories, novels, libretti, plays, memoirs – well over 20 books, plus many more he has edited or contributed to –  where do you begin? Following is a sampling from our Fiction Publisher, Harriet Allan. 

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