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  • Published: 30 May 2023
  • ISBN: 9781776959808
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House New Zealand Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 0 hr 49 min
  • Narrator: Witi Ihimaera
  • RRP: $20.00

The Astromancer

The Rising of Matariki

A lively story from Witi Ihimaera that reveals the tradition of Matariki.

The Astromancer is looking for four new apprentices to learn about Matariki and the Maramataka calendar. She chooses three boys and an orphan girl, Aria, who will come only if she can bring her smelly dog. Aria, though, is bored by the lessons, and she doesn’t want to be told what to do.

But these are dangerous times, and Ruatapu the Ravenous is about to threaten the safety of the whole tribe. Will Aria step up to save them?

  • Published: 30 May 2023
  • ISBN: 9781776959808
  • Imprint: Penguin Random House New Zealand Audio
  • Format: Audio Download
  • Length: 0 hr 49 min
  • Narrator: Witi Ihimaera
  • RRP: $20.00

About the authors

Witi Ihimaera

Three-time winner of the Wattie/Montana Book of the Year award, Katherine Mansfield fellow and playwright Witi Ihimaera is one of New Zealand’s most prolific and accomplished writers. Witi’s first novel, Tangi, won the Wattie Book of the Year Award in 1974, a feat he repeated with The Matriarch in 1986. His celebrated novel Bulibasha, King of the Gypsies, now adapted as the film Mahana, won the Montana Book of the Year award in 1995. Witi’s other novels and short story collections include The Whale Rider (also adapted as an internationally successful film); Dream Swimmer (sequel to the award-winning The Matriarch); Pounamu, Pounamu and Nights In The Gardens of Spain. In 2015 he published the first volume of his autobiography, Maori Boy.

Isobel Joy Te Aho-White

Isobel Te Aho-White (Ngati Kahungunu, Ngai Tahu) is an award-winning Illustrator based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Her book Santa’s Worst Christmas (2019) with Huia publishers was nominated for the NCYA Book Awards across five categories and her book Whiti: Colossal Squid of the Deep (2020) written by Victoria Cleal and published by Te Papa Press won a Whitley award for best children’s book. She is the illustrator of Witi Ihimaera's novels about Te Kōkōrangi, the Astromancer (Puffin, 2022 and 2024), a co-illustrator of The Maori Picture Dictionary/Te Papakupu Whakaahua by Margaret Sinclair and Ross Calman (Puffin, 2022), and her illustrations have enhanced well over 30 children's books to date.

Praise for The Astromancer

I’ve really enjoyed this book as it relates to what we are learning at school. I found it really easy to read and follow and I enjoyed all of the beautiful pictures. I’m looking forward to taking this book to school for my teacher to read to the class as part of our learning about Matariki.

Ella (aged 8), Kidspot.co.nz

Who better to teach us through story than Witi Ihimaera? The Astromancer: The Rising of Matariki (Puffin, $25) is a new chapter book for readers of about 8 and up and is chock full of danger, heroes, old wisdom and new blood. . . . this is an action adventure story where we learn in the best way - by being thoroughly absorbed in a wonderful story.

Louise Ward, NZ Herald

Don’t be fooled – The Astromancer, which features arch-deceiver Ruatapu the Ravenous, is much more than the picture book it appears to be. What might have been a first chapter book becomes a lavishly illustrated story, with Isobel Te Aho-White’s alternating full-colour and graphic black-and-white pictures making the 10-chapter hardback perfect for classroom reading in the lead-up to Matariki.

Ann Packer, NZ Listener

The Astromancer. The Rising of Matariki, a new children’s book by Witi Ihimaera, one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed authors, is a spellbinding tale inspired by purakau, legendary Maori stories from ancient times. . . . Witi Ihimaera is a great storyteller. Te Kokorangi is based on an astromancer who lived long ago. But the children and Aria’s dog have come out of his own creative imagination. They make this story very relatable for children who will also be entranced by Isobel Joy Te Aho-White’s brilliant illustrations. Central to the story is the continuing battle of wills between Te Kokorangi and Aria who has suffered the trauma of being an orphan and having to fend for herself. It is only love and a sense of belonging that can heal her. At the beginning the boys stay in the background, but their strength and courage eventually shine through. The Astromancer: The Rising of Matariki is a great way for children to learn about Matariki, and how it is about so much more than simply gazing at the nine Matariki stars in the night sky. These ancient stories still have relevance for us today. They teach us about the need to respect and live in harmony with the spiritual and natural world. Friday June 24 will be a very special occasion, the first time Matariki will be a public holiday in New Zealand. The Astromancer. The Rising of Matariki would be a great book for families to read together as part of their Matariki celebrations.

Lynn Potter, NZ Booklovers

Christmas Book Guide for Kids 2022: One of our most celebrated writers, and most talented illustrators, put out this beautiful, lively Matariki story. With a gutsy heroine and high stakes this is a great one for the home library.

The Spinoff

Awards & recognition

Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Award

Highly commended  •  2022  •  Notable Book Award

Discover more

Books for Matariki

Looking for some books about Matariki to share with your family?

The Astromancer by Witi Ihimaera | Book Trailer

Te Kokorangi is Witi Ihimaera’s lively Matariki story — The Astromancer — translated into te reo Maori by Heni Jacob.

Teachers' notes