HomeNewsUCOL celebrate mana whenua legend with launch of children's book 'The Legend of Okatia'

UCOL celebrate mana whenua legend with launch of children's book 'The Legend of Okatia'

By UCOL on Tuesday, 16 May 2023

The Legend of Okatia illustration.

UCOL is thrilled to announce the launch of the children's book 'The Legend of Okatia’, thanks to the support of Rangitāne o Manawatū and Rangitāne o Tamaki nui-a-Rua.

Inspired by the legend about how Te Āpiti Manawatū Gorge came to life, 'The Legend of Okatia’ will be officially available to the public on 23 May. 

UCOL’s Senior Lecturer in Music, Kane Parsons, said that the inspiration for the book came about following a learner assessment in illustration and a kōrero with Warren Warbrick. 

“Many years ago, local kaumātua Manu Kawana shared a captivating legend with some of our UCOL graphic design ākonga (learners) who were then tasked with creating illustrations based on the story as part of their assessment,” Mr Parsons explains. 

“The legend had real potential as a book, so I reached out to my colleague and fellow lecturer Steve Leurink, who had worked with ākonga on the original illustrations, and we transformed the legend into a children's book. It's incredible how it all came together!” 

To ensure that the story resonated with our diverse audiences, Hone Morris, Associate Professor from Massey University, came on board and provided robust translations in te Reo Māori for the book. 

Recognising the significance of preserving this local legend, Mr Parsons emphasised the importance of passing it down to future generations. 

 “To ensure this story carries through the generations, UCOL will provide the book as a free resource to every primary and intermediate school in the Manawatū district. 

Horizons Regional Council has already generously purchased 85 books to share with schools across the rohe too. We’re very grateful for their support.” 

The children's book is due to launch at an exclusive event on Tuesday 23 May, followed by the world premiere of Parsons’ orchestral performance a few days later. Taking place at the Regent on Broadway, ‘The Legend of Okatia’ musical performance will feature our local Manawatū Sinfonia and combined choir led by the Renaissance Singers, conducted by Andrew Atkins. 

“Following the book launch, on Saturday 27 May we are thrilled to invite the wider Manawatū community to join us at the Regent on Broadway where we will be celebrating the amazing mahi of talented, creative ākonga and kaimahi (staff), and watching this story come alive through music.” 

“After hearing the story myself I felt inspired, and with the support of local iwi and kaumātua, was able to transform it into an orchestral piece. It’s been an incredible privilege to work in collaboration with mana whenua and see this important part of our region’s history come to life.” 

Tickets for the world premiere of ‘The Legend of Okatia’ orchestral performance are available to purchase here.