It all began when Rebecca Larsen discovered some old illustrations she had put into storage before travelling overseas to Canada.

After eight years away, Larsen returned to New Zealand and wanted to create something personal for her sons Logan and Torsen that would introduce them to te reo Māori. So she began writing a pukapuka (book).

Row, row, row your waka was released in 2016 and three years later, following the release of a second story, Tāne Mahuta has a forest, Larsen is launching another.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Matariki follows characters Pūkeko, Kiwi and Hoiho as they blast off into space on an important journey to learn about Matariki.


Larsen wrote the book in memory of her grandmothers Delma McLeod, of Feilding, and Alma Larsen, from Whanganui.

"They were just a couple of really good women who supported me in what I was doing with art when I was very young," Larsen said.

"They always encouraged me and told me that girls could do anything, and to never give up."

Alma (née Stevens) was named after the very road she was born on, Alma Rd in the Whanganui suburb of Gonville.

Larsen was also born in the River City and remembers her grandmother Alma knitting blankets which she would then gift to people needing them in the community.

Larsen attended St Marcellin and St Mary's schools before moving to Feilding where she spent more time with grandmother Delma who did chalk art and poetry.

Her children's stories are waiata (songs) with verses in english and te reo Māori that are accompanied by actions to make for a fun experience.

"I really wanted to give my boys something that I'd created myself and also introduce them to Māori songs that I knew from my childhood," Larsen said.


"Then I decided to make my own. It was just a personal gift, but I shared it around my community and got really positive feedback from it. Everybody wanted copies."

Larsen loves writing and would like to do it fulltime. However, there is not enough money in it, she says.

Instead, it will remain a passion project while she works in marketing, design and events from her hometown of Papamoa.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Matariki is launching at the Papamoa Library on June 8 and will then become available at bookstores nationwide.

The last time Larsen returned to Whanganui was in 2018 when she visited Putiki Kindergarten where she used to attend.

Larsen said she had a lot of family connections here.

"I love Whanganui. I got to come back last year with my book. It was really cool coming home and that's what it felt like because it's a familiar environment to me.

"I love the parks, walking around the lake and going to the playground. I appreciate the river, the nature around the place and the beach. It's got so much to offer."

The work of Māori astronomer Dr Rangi Matamua was also an inspiration behind the book.

Although Larsen doesn't have Māori roots, she remembers singing songs such as Oma Rāpeti at school and then sharing them with her boys when they were young.

"I've just always had this affinity for Māori culture, it's part of our New Zealand culture and I feel very connected with it," Larsen said.

"I really love the art, the culture and the language. It's so special and something that we need to embrace and teach to our children."