Hana Ltd, publishers of a variety of Maori resources for schools, had a star-gazing start. Hana Pomare had been studying for a teacher diploma when a lecturer recommended her for a position at the Carter Observatory – to develop an audio-visual project on the Maori creation myth. So she threw herself into the observatory project and many twists and turns later became, as Hana Ltd, a specialised supplier of multimedia educational resources in te reo Maori.
Mind you, there was always a chance she could have faltered on the first hurdle.
Asked to do an a/v, she turned up on her first day to discover the observatory had just bought a new video projector and wanted her to produce a video. Resourceful Hana then phoned all the film makers she knew and got herself some help and a crash course in film making.
The result was Te Ao Hurihuri, a big success for Hana and the help she had co-opted.
What about taking that project forward into books, music and other media, Hana wondered? Carter Observatory was happy to let her pursue further opportunities, so Hana went to the Ministry of Education with her ideas. Educationalists encouraged her, and today Te Ao Hurihuri is the first of seven ranges of multimedia resources published by Hana Ltd.
It received immediate critical success as a finalist at the 2001 TUANZ Awards.
The company and its projects grew organically, says Hana. She had some great professional help along the way, with librarian Miria Simpson a kuia who loaned her skills. “Miria was a legend as an editor with a red pen,” Hana recalls. “She told me ‘I have turned your pedestrian Maori into poetry.’ Only twelve lines of my original remained untouched, but Miria told me I should be very pleased with that!”
Hana’s timing was also good; she arrived on the scene just as a need for good Maori language resources became apparent. Hana’s husband Simon Wi Rutene (Aitanga-a-Mahaki and Ngati Porou) is also involved in Hana Ltd. (If his name sounds familiar, you’ll possibly remember him as an Olympic skier for this country.)
Despite the Pomare heritage, Hana (Rongomaiwahine, Rongowhakaata and Ngati Mutunga) was not brought up a Maori speaker. As a third former, she signed up for Maori language classes at Onslow College. Told there were not enough choosing the option to make a class, she found that 15 kids had signed up, which should have been sufficient but did not move school authorities. Later she found an educator and began Maori classes one night a week in Johnsonville. Her father, Dr Eru Pomare, and other local whanau came to classes with her.
Since then she has enrolled in classes at Polytech, Victoria University, and Te Wananga o Raukawa. However, Hana cites working alongside native speakers in various work roles, as being the most valuable and enjoyable way to learn.
So what can comprise a Hana Ltd theme? Te Ao Hurihuri now includes a talking book, winter and summer night sky charts, a lunar planting and fishing guide, lyrics and a song mixer – and that is only the interactive part. Backing it up is a video, an audio tape of waiata and story, a large format textless book, a web based resource and CD-Rom.
And while we can talk themes and media, nothing will prepare you for the outstanding graphic qualities of the various series – check them out on www.hana.co.nz.
Ahurea ki Tua, an adaptation of a mainstream school resource in Maori is a simpler package of print resource and downloadable pdfs.
He Puea,he Iwi tells of the Ngati Tuwharetoa migration and is available in Hawaiian as well as Maori and English; Ka Puna Karikari is based on Kai Tahu legends and written in that dialect, with print media, website resource and a CD-Rom.
Ka Roimata is books, music and animation again recounting a period of Kai Tahu history; Tera Ia Nga Tai are graphic novels on three ancestor stories with interactive talking books.
Hina, the last series to date, is based on the goddess Hine and the part she played in the origins of kapahaka, the coconut and tapa – again with six books for students, posters, online resources and a teacher’s resource book.
Hana’s Hina books were highly commended at the recent CLL Educational Publishing awards in the primary education category, and won the LIANZA best non-fiction publication in te reo Maori.
To get the treasured stories of ancestors, creation and other aspects of Maori culture, Hana’s heritage and the time she is prepared to devote to talk and discussion with iwi and whanau unlock stories in depth that could not be gathered by casual contact. Hana is also protective of the intellectual property of the stories to tribal groups.
As you flick through the various series on the Hana website, the stunning qualities of the artwork concepts and execution are wonderfully apparent. Hana says she likes to use artists who are not normally associated with children’s education books. She chose Chris Slane through reading his graphic novel about Maui; Turi Park she discovered through a mutual friend on a film project; Maiangi Waitai has merged Maori graphic tradition with her experiences of living in Japan and Mexico to colourful effect. Ellie May Logan is a friend who put enormous care and hours of work into Hina. Hana encourages the artists to bring their own sensibilities to a project “and then give the brief back to me of how they see it.”
The Ministry of Education has worked with the New Zealand Libraries Association, striking a recent agreement to allow public libraries to access Hana Ltd’s book and media output.
For her next project, Hana says the current gleam in her eye is for fairy stories and magic!
Maori and New Zealand education should be proud: Hana and Simon have created a considerable taonga for this country.