Woodcarver completes colouring-in book

By Rebecca Malcolm of the Rotorua Daily Post -

Turning his hand from wood carving to designing a colouring-in book doesn't seem like the most natural of moves, but for Rakei Kingi it was all about filling a gap in the market.

The local business owner couldn't believe the lack of Maori themed art and activity pads around - so he set about making and designing one himself.

Now more than two years on Mr Kingi's unique new kids resource has hit the shelves and is being used in about 20 schools around the country. He believes it's the first of its kind in the country.

"There were no Maori colouring in books on the market ... that was the core of the idea, to fill the gap."

Mr Kingi said as well as providing a locally flavoured colouring-in book it was also used as a teaching resource.

He said it took about two and a half years to draw and finalise all the pictures.

"Each was drawn up to 20 times. I'm a woodcarver by trade and don't draw like that."

Mr Kingi said it was a bit of a challenge to simplify the drawings so that they'd be interesting and achievable to kids.

Thankfully, he had 9-year-old daughter Ahina to use as a guinea pig, trying out the pictures and suggesting changes.

He'd run the pictures past her to see what she thought.

"She's coloured in each picture about a million times ... she's a bit over it now."

Mr Kingi said he hoped the New Zealand pictures - which include carvings, ta moko and Kiwi scenes like putting down a hangi and collecting shellfish - would be something children could relate to.

As well as pictures to colour in, there are activities like word finds and mapping out genealogy.

He said the feedback he'd received so far had been great, and he was already planning a second edition which would be more of a teaching resource.

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