The Greatest Haka Festival on Earth

Book Author & Illustrator Pania Tahau-Hodges & Story Hemi-Morehouse
Rights Available World excl. NZ

It’s national kapa haka competition time again, and this Māori performing arts festival is a big event! It needs planning, tactics and dedication – and that’s just for the people watching! Nan’s a hardcore kapa haka follower, and she shows her mokopuna all the tricks to get the best seats, find the choicest pāua and whitebait fritters, hunt out the coolest poi, pounamu and glittery moko, and meet the star performers. And all along, Nan’s keeping a big secret that’s only revealed when the star performer does Nan’s amazing signature poi move – and her group wins the competition.

About the Author
Pania Tahau-Hodges
(Ngāti Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Tūtemohuta, Tūhoe) is Publishing Manager at Huia Publishers and has worked as a writer, editor and resource developer in English and Māori languages for more than twenty years. She is passionate about Māori language and loves creating stories that reflect Māori realities and aspirations. In 2015, she was awarded an internship with a leading publisher in Frankfurt through an initiative of the Publishers Association of New Zealand, the Frankfurt Book Fair and Creative New Zealand. Pania is a self-confessed kapa haka geek and has been to every Matatini festival for the last twenty-five years. This is Pania’s second picture book, following the successful Santa’s Worst Christmas, Te Kirihimete i Whakakorea, which she co-wrote with the HUIA team.

Story Hemi-Morehouse (Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Toa Rangatira) is a Māori creative – who took her professional and creative background in Scriptwriting and Animation, and ran! She now works as a full-time, freelance Illustrator / Writer – for Indigenous Polynesian-based picture books and stories.


Huia Publishers


245 x 270 mm



Picture Books

Age range
4-7 years

Publication Date
October 2021

Rights Available:
World excl. NZ

Rights Agents:


Eboni Waitere

Contact Huia Publishers about this book

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This book made me grin all the way through. Kapa haka tragic Nan takes her whanau to Te Matatini, the biennial kapa haka festival, where they see the biggest stars in the kapa haka world strut their stuff. The illustrations are exuberant and the story is simple and affirming. A total win, and an essential book for every school in Aotearoa.

Sarah Forster, Newsroom

The use of humour, dialogue and colourful, detailed illustrations make this a book filled with energy as well as providing insight into, and knowledge of, an important Māori cultural event.

Judges comments, NZ Booklovers Awards 2022

The author is a self-confessed kapa haka geek who takes the reader through the build-up and excitement of an annual family trip to The Greatest Haka Festival on Earth. All throughout the packing, the powhiri and preparation for the first day of competition, the enthusiasm and anticipation of this family trip bounces off the pages. There’s lots going on in each colourful illustration, and I enjoyed looking for the twins to see what they were up to. I particularly loved the illustration of the tumultuous rush of the crowd running for the best spot to watch the competition. A glossary in the back of the book is not just a list like some you may find. This glossary explains some slang used, some te reo and common terms children may not have heard yet or had explained: and like me, just might make you laugh out loud.

Adele Broadbent, What Next Book

This bright, fun picture book made me want to go to a kapa haka festival myself.