A funny and suspenseful adventure, Zelie Houghton
March 11, 2022
At the start of Ataria Sharman’s Hine and the Tohunga Portal we are introduced to Hine and her brother Hōhepa. Hine is a 12-year-old Māori girl who is very fashion oriented with her turquoise pants and bright purple backpack; she daydreams a lot and she is one of the more popular people in school. Hōhepa is eight and seems like he’s 15 by the way he talks, but sometimes he’s just your regular kid.
The patupaiarehe are Māori fairy people, and at a glance they look like normal people and in some way they are but they are actually Papatuanuku’s servants and the people that take care of nature. I love how the patupaiarehe should be some sort of serious thing, and sometimes they are but they do know how to take (and make) a joke.
The brother and sister pair are arguing about Hōhepa singing too loudly when he gets angry and runs away. Then the mysterious No Eyes (they were normal people and then Kae takes their eyes and curses them to obey him) come and takes Hōhepa away into the forest. Hine runs after him and then trips. She wakes up in the same forest, but it’s different somehow.
“You humans are too caught up in yourselves to realise how advanced animals are.” – Ngaro
Hine and the Tohunga Portal is a very adventurous book, with a constant feeling that something is about to happen and you are meant to know it but you don’t. I love the jokes and the combat in the story and you feel and empathise with the characters instead of just reading about them. This is not the same as other books that I’ve read. I laughed out loud in some parts and my sister looked at me weirdly as we share a room. It is a very funny book – the kind that when you try to explain, it isn’t as funny, however when you read it, it’s the ultimate joke.
Another character I enjoyed reading about was Kae, who is evil and old, and like all villains, his plan of attack is not clear until the very end. He seems to have some personal reason to dislike the patupaiarehe and moves very slowly until his plans are in action. When he does, it’s over in a blink of an eye.
One of my favourite parts of the book is the tribes of kea. A lot of people know about how cheeky kea can be in real life, but these characters are different! They are vicious and very territorial and will kill at any sign of treason. They are smart and cunning, just like the ones I have met in real life and have backup plans for their backup plans.
I think Sharman did a great job writing this book and she made it seem so realistic and lifelike. It is definitely one of my favourite books.
I learnt a lot more about the Māori language and more about culture. I haven’t read a book set in te ao Māori before and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you enjoy reading fantasy and fiction, I know you will.
I loved this book and recommend it to you.
- Zelie is 12 and lives in Rangiora.