Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai

Book Author & Illustrator Michaela Keeble & Tokerau Brown
Rights Available World excl. World English

A bold and multi-layered picture book about self-determination narrated by a young boy full of ideas and questions about growing up, belonging, spirituality, culture and who is the boss.

Paku Manu Ariki talks directly to the reader, drawing on the stories that spin around him—his father’s mātauranga, his mother’s politics, his many pet birds, and his best friend who is taller, even though he’s younger.

The book is born from the experience of growing up in a strong Māori whānau in a country and wider world that offers a conflicting version of what is right and of value.

Paku Manu Ariki is trying to understand his role in his family, community and the larger world. His preoccupation is who is the boss—his nanna at the marae, his older siblings, or any number of atua? His steadfast dad, his Pākehā mum, the “leader of the free world”, or Paku Manu Ariki himself? Paku Manu bumps up against authority, trying to reconcile the kind and just rules of nanna and the unjust power of leaders he sees every day on the TV.

Thoughtful, funny and confronting, Paku Manu Ariki Whakatakapōkai is about the hustle for belonging, and our place in the epic spiral of space, time and culture.

About the Author

Michaela Keeble has previously published poetry and short fiction. This book is based on writing and conversation with her son Kerehi Grace (Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Ngāti Porou).

Tokerau Wilson is a Rarotongan/Cook Islands Māori artist, multimedia improvisor and musician, known for his Māori Pasifika Goth group art exhibitions and solo music project “Big Fat Raro”.


Gecko Press


253 × 190 mm



Junior Fiction

Age range
6-10 years

Publication Date
June 2023

Rights Available:
World excl. World English

Rights Agents:


Anja Mundt, Mundt Agency

China & Taiwan
ShuHuai (China)
Sushin (Taiwan)

Ayşenur Müslümanoğlu, AnatoliaLit

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