Waiariki MP Tamati Coffey was an open book as he shared his story with members of the community.

A Matariki Māngai: Living Book - Tamati Coffey session was held at the Rotorua Library on Wednesday.

Tamati opened up about chapters of his life based on audience questions.

Chapters of discussion included early life, primary school, teen years, early adult life, career, favourite book and movie, and hopes for the future.


Among the many topics Tamati touched on, leadership was one which people asked a few questions around.

Tamati says leaders can appear in numerous areas of people's life, including in their community, in their hapū and in their whānau.

"I think that leaders have a responsibility to do what's right.

"I think that leaders need to have their heart in the right place and be doing it for the right reasons."

Leadership qualities he admires include strong but peaceful leadership, inclusive leadership, and determination.

"Role models come in all shapes and forms, and are spread throughout our lives, and can be in places we don't expect."

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One of the more light-hearted topics discussed was Tamati's favourite books, with Dr Seuss books being a big winner for him, as he had underlying political statements in his stories.

"He is a legend in terms of the foresight he had."

Rotorua Library kaiurungi mātauranga Māori (principal indigenous adviser) Anahera Sadler says the living books concept has not been utilised in Rotorua Library before the Matariki Māngai: Living Books series this year.

She says it is based on an international concept from libraries around the world and thinks the concept can work well for the communities of Rotorua.

"Providing a forum to ask leaders any questions they may have about their life experiences is a rare opportunity to gain an insight into the qualities and attributes of what makes a great leader, while also demonstrating their lighter side, interests and what makes them tick."

Anahera says they will hold more sessions with other people from a variety of different interests and backgrounds.

She says Marama Davidson, their first living book, loved the concept and enjoyed the experience.

"Tamati Coffey also appreciated the experience and even offered to assist us with connecting to other people."

She says they asked Tamati to be a part of these series because he has charisma, effortless ease with people of all ages and backgrounds and is comfortable speaking from his heart.

"He is also the Waiariki MP and therefore represents the interests of Māori in our electorate."

She says it is planned that during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori in September, Living Books sessions will also be held in Te Reo Māori, further supporting the library's vision to raise the visibility of Te Reo Māori to connect Te Arawa, our Māori communities, kura kaupapa and wharekura to leaders, in order to inspire and provoke discussion.