30 Aug 2023

Classic children's cook book now in te reo Māori

From Afternoons, 1:35 pm on 30 August 2023
Edmonds Cook Book Taku Puka

Edmonds Cook Book Taku Puka Photo: supplied

Different iterations and editions of the Edmonds Cookery Book have helped New Zealanders navigate the kitchen for more than 110 years. Now, a new version of Edmonds My First Cookbook is aiming at helping young cooks boost their te reo Māori skills at the same time.

Te reo champion and Edmonds ambassador Stacey Morrison told Afternoons that the book, Taku Puka Tohutao Tuatahi, helps to “normalise”the language.

“This has really hit a spot with people, I guess because it’s Edmonds’. It’s like this iconic part of all of our lives as New Zealanders and now we see it reimagined in te reo Māori.

“When you have this aspect that you already know, then a book like this becomes scaffolding to help you bring a bit of te reo Māori into your space.”

Stacey Morrison

Te reo champion and Edmonds ambassador Stacey Morrison Photo: Penguin Australia

Morrison says the book’s translator, Dr Jean Martin, spent months ensuring she found the right words for specific culinary words.

“When you think about say, slicing and dicing, these are really quite technical terms, [they’re] natural when it's your first language but you need to let everyone know that these are the words we're going to use for ‘dice’.”

The book is one of 100 Māori language books that Kotahi Rau Pukapuka Trust is working on translating. Other books include works by Shakespeare and Dr Zeus.

Morrison says the familiarity of the Edmonds brand and recipes removes some barriers for people who might otherwise feel like they don’t know enough te reo.

“When you have this aspect that you already know, then a book like this becomes scaffolding to help you bring a bit of te reo Māori into your space.”

The book includes an extensive glossary and seven new recipes, such as parāoa parai (fry bread) and pihikete whetū (star biscuits), created by cook Kirsten Holtz.

Morrison and husband Scotty have two teenage children. She says she wished this book had existed when her whānau were first on their language learning journey.

“We are a Māori language-speaking family and we have been since the kids were born, but not before that. So we both learned, my husband Scotty and I learned as adults, but raising these kids, I had to learn so many different words in order to make pikelets with them, in order to make some of the things that are in this book.

“So for me, this is like a brain holiday just seeing it right there and sort of written for me.”

She says cooking is an easy way to get into language learning, not least because the te reo terms are often far more instructional than their English counterparts.

“The repetitive nature of baking and cooking is good, because it aligns with the repetitive nature of parenting children. You say the same things over and over again. So if you know them in te reo Māori then that’s an opportunity for you to use te reo.”

Morrison says the book is “ambitious in every way” and she’s delighted by the positive reaction to it so far.

“The thing that actually makes my heart rise is how many people go ‘wow, that's a really cool idea, even though I can't speak Māori, I'm going to try’.

“Just learn hōtiti for sausage, penu penu for mash, even if you just use that one word in the context of your English language. I just think it's really cool that people are so excited about it.”