Aotearoa Spanish Language Week 2024

Kia ora and ¡Hola!

Here at Wellington City Libraries we are celebrating Aotearoa Spanish Language Week.

Hablas espanol? Do you speak Spanish?

Hablo un poco de Español (Eh-span-yole). I speak a little Spanish 

¿Dónde estás? Where are you?

Estoy en le biblioteca. I am at the library.

¿Sabías? Did you know?

  • There are over 500 million speakers of Spanish worldwide.

This is mainly because the Spanish colonised many different parts of the world. Countries with Spanish as an official language are called Hispanic. Most of them are in the Americas, which make up Latin America.

Hispanophone Global World Map from Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

  • The first Spanish-speaking immigrants to New Zealand.

a family with 3 children sit facing the camera. Black and White image.

Image: “Chileans become New Zealanders” by John Wilson in Story: Latin Americans, Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand.

The first Spanish-speaking immigrants to New Zealand arrived in the late 19th century so they could work in the gold mines. Most of them were men from the Spanish-speaking countries of South America.

  • First Chileans arrived in New Zealand in 1977

When the military took over the government in Chile, families like the Guerreros, pictured opposite, were forced to leave their country as refugees. If you would like to learn more about our first Chilean immigrants, click on the photo or visit the link below to read about them and other immigrants from Latin America on Te Ara Encylopaedia of New Zealand.

Cool and interesting words in Spanish Español

One really interesting thing about learning another language is that there are lots of words that don’t have an exact translation into English. Here are some words in Spanish we think are extra cool.

  • empalagar: When you dislike something because the flavour is too sweet.
  • sobremesaWhen you finish a meal and stay at the table sharing a conversation, after everyone has eaten.
  • pena ajena: To feel embarrassed on behalf of someone else.

Here are some English words that come from Spanish Español:

  • overol: overalls
  • suéter: sweater
  • bulevar: boulevard
  • fútbol: football

Storytime Tiempo de cuentos at Karori Library

Join Karori Library in celebrating Aotearoa Spanish Language week with fun and interactive bilingual stories, games and language resources for pre schoolers. Nau mai rā tātou katoa. Everybody is welcome.

Tuesday 21 May, 10:30am – 11:30am

Te Māhanga Karori Library

Karori Library also have a new programme called Cuentacuentos – story time sessions entirely in Spanish! Every first Saturday of the month at 11 AM.

Toitoi Magazine App Toitoi Revista aplicación

Check out the Toitoi Magazine Latin America Special Issue app — it has stories, poems and art by kids about the vibrant cultures of Latin America. You can read in English, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese, thanks to the Latin America Centre of Asia-Pacific Excellence.

Readers can listen to the stories and poems in translation, tap to hear individual words and spellings and even record their own narration.

A fun quiz Una prueba divertida

Visit the Aotearoa Spanish Language Week website for the answers, and for more fun activities for the whole whānau!

Spanish Books Libros de Español

Mi perro solo habla español / Cáceres, Andrea
“Cuando Aurora llegó a los Estados Unidos, aprendió a hablar inglés, pero Nena, su spaniel, no. Por eso, cuando pasea a Nena, Aurora les explica a sus nuevos amigos que su mascota solo habla español. Ella les dice: Nena no entiende la palabra “sit” pero sí entiende “siéntate”. […] ¡Pero ella sí que puede oler un “postre”! Con dulzura y encanto, la autora e ilustradora Andrea Cáceres cuenta una tierna e incomparable historia sobre una niña, su mascota y un amor que transciende cualquier idioma.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Leo Messi / Sánchez Vegara, Ma Isabel
“In this book from the highly acclaimed Little People, BIG DREAMS series, discover the incredible life of Leo Messi, one of the worlds most skilled and celebrated footballers. Leo Messi tells the inspiring story of a young boy from Argentina who became one of the worlds greatest footballers.” (Catalogue)

Cucú-tras by Francesca Ferri
This book invites you to play a fun game: the “Cucú-tras”. This book has great illustrations with cheerful colours and you will have fun lifting the flaps to find different farm animals.

Los tipos malos en el peor día del mundo / Blabey, Aaron
“¡Salve al príncipe heredero Mermelada! ¡Pliégate a su malvada magnificencia! ¡Arrodíllate ante su gloria de manos de traseros! O…si quieres…¡NO! Puede que los Tipos Malos y las Chicas Aún Peores hayan sido derribados, pero ¿significa eso que se quedarán en el suelo? ¡De ninguna manera, muchachos! Ponte los pantalones de fiesta: ¡se acerca la batalla definitiva entre malo y MAAAAAALO!” (Catalogue)

La lección de August by R. J. Palacio

Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.

If you’d like to read more books in Spanish, check out some of our favourites on this blog post, or view the full list on our catalogue.

Let’s sign together! New Zealand Sign Language Week 2024

Did you know that every May is a special time in New Zealand? It’s when we celebrate New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) Week, a fantastic opportunity to honour and recognise the importance of NZSL as one of our country’s official languages alongside te reo Māori.

During NZSL Week, we have the chance to learn about the rich and diverse culture of the Deaf community. It is a time for everyone to come together, break down any barriers that may exist, and make sure everyone feels included and valued.

A fantastic way to engage with NZSL Week is by exploring resources like the official website, where you can learn how to fingerspell your name or basic phrases to use with your family and friends.

Another way to join the celebration is by discovering books and movies that portrait Deaf culture. Check out these titles from our catalogue! There are so many amazing stories out there that can teach about NZSL and what it means to be part of the Deaf community.

So, let’s join hands and hearts in celebrating together! Happy NZSL week everyone!

Picture books

Moses goes to a concert / Millman, Isaac
“Moses and his schoolmates, all deaf, attend a concert where the orchestra’s percussionist is also deaf. Includes illustrations in sign language and a page showing the manual alphabet.” (Catalogue)

Reena’s rainbow / White, Dee
“Reena is deaf and Dog is homeless, but they are also so much more than that. At first Reena and Dog feel like they don’t belong, but when they form a unique bond with each other, and become friends with the hearing children in the park, they discover that everyone is different and special in their own way.” (Catalogue)

True stories

Listen : how Evelyn Glennie, a deaf girl, changed percussion / Stocker, Shannon
“A nonfiction picture book biography celebrating Evelyn Glennie, a deaf woman, who became the first full-time solo percussionist in the world”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Helen Keller / Sánchez Vegara, Ma Isabel
“Little Helen was eager to learn about the world. After falling ill during childhood, she became deaf and blind. When Anne Sullivan, a teacher, came into her life, Helen learned how to communicate in different ways. She became the first deaf-blind person to earn a college degree and toured the world advocating for the rights of disabled people.” — Back cover.” (Catalogue)

Ninita’s big world : the true story of a deaf pygmy marmoset / Marsh, Sarah Glenn
“The heart-tugging true story of how YouTube star Ninita–a deaf, orphaned pygmy marmoset (the smallest type of monkey) –found family, friendship, and a forever home! Illustrated in full colour”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Comics, manga and graphic novels

The Baby-sitters Club [12] : Jessi’s secret language : a graphic novel / Chau, Chan (Children eBook Libby)
“Jessi recently moved to Stoneybrook and is one of the newest members of The Baby-sitters Club. She’s getting ready to start regularly sitting for the BSC’s newest charge, Matt Braddock. Matt has been deaf since birth and uses sign language to communicate, so Jessi has to use it, too. It’s a secret language! Soon all the neighbourhood kids want to learn how to sign, which keeps the BSC busy.” (Catalogue)

El Deafo : superpowered edition / Bell, Cece
“Starting a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest. At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom. This is power, maybe even superpower. Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, listener for all. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

A silent voice : complete collector’s edition. 1 / Ōima, Yoshitoki
“Shoya is a bully. When Shoko, a girl who can’t hear, enters his elementary school class, she becomes their favourite target, and Shoya and his friends goad each other into devising new tortures for her. But the children’s cruelty goes too far. Shoko is forced to leave the school, and Shoya ends up shouldering all the blame. Six years later, the two meet again. Can Shoya make up for his past mistakes, or is it too late?” (Catalogue)

Chapter books

Hello, universe / Kelly, Erin Entrada
“Virgil feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia is deaf, smart, and loves everything about nature. Kaori is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren’t friends. But when Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well, Kaori, Gen, and Valencia begin a quest to find the missing Virgil.” (Catalogue)

Wonderstruck : a novel in words and pictures / Selznick, Brian
“Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City, and meets there Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben’s story is told in words; Rose’s in pictures.” (Catalogue)

You don’t know everything, Jilly P / Gino, Alex
“When her new baby sister is born deaf, Jilly makes an online connection with a fellow fantasy fan, who happens to be black and deaf, and begins to learn about the many obstacles that exist in the world for people who are different from her.” — (Source of summary not specified)” (Catalogue)

Show me a sign / LeZotte, Ann Clare
“Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha’s Vineyard. Her great-great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, in 1805, over a hundred years later, many people there — including Mary — are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage. But recent events have delivered winds of change. (Written by a deaf author and based upon a true story.)” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Te Ara Pukapuka Children’s Walk at Central Park

Te Ara Pukapuka has now landed at Central Park, Brooklyn, with a brand new pukapuka carefully selected for this location! We previously let you know that Central Park was the location for the next installation of Te Ara Pukapuka, but we didn’t tell you which pukapuka you’d be reading as you follow the path through the park!

Now that it’s there and ready to read, we can make the announcement!

The first board with the title "you have found Te Ara Pukapuka" written on it and the cover of Pakupaku Pīwakawaka

Our Te Ara Pukapuka welcome page

Wellington City Libraries and the Wellington City Parks, Sport & Recreation team have partnered with author Marion Day and the Upstream: Friends of Central Park environmental group to bring Pakupaku Pīwakawaka by author Marion Day and illustrator Anna Evans to Central Park. This wonderful pukapuka is available to borrow from our libraries, to buy from all good bookstores and Marion Day’s website, and of course, to read as you wander along the trails at Central Park! Each page you find will direct you towards the next as you stroll through the park.

Te Ara Pukapuka Central Park begins (and ends!) at the main entrance to Central Park on Brooklyn Road – right by the bus stop. You can find the entrance here on Google Maps. Following the story through the park will take you into the bush, near the stream, and up past the playground and excellent flying fox. The trail is nice and wide and is suitable if you have a stroller or are a confident wheelchair user – there is a steep-ish downhill section!

A Te Ara Pukapuka board with the playground behind it

Pause at the playground halfway through your Central Park Te Ara Pukapuka journey!

Pakupaku Pīwakawaka tells the story of a fantail who is tasked with keeping harmful creatures out of Tane’s forest. This pukapuka also briefly introduces us to a pīwakawaka who looks a little different to the grey, black, and brown fantails that we usually see around Wellington. When we asked Upstream if there were any creatures or critters they’d like to see featured in a book at Central Park, they let us know that there are many fantails who live in the park, and they’ve also started seeing black fantails around too.

A black fantail perching on a branch side-on

A black morph fantail. Will you spot one at Central Park?
Image: 341885505by Alan Bell on iNaturalist, licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0 DEED

There are two colourations (or morphs) of Pīwakawaka, the pied morph (grey, black, and brown), and the black morph. It’s very rare to find a North Island fantail that isn’t the pied morph, and only around 5% of South Island Fantails are black morphs. This makes it pretty exciting to find black Pīwakawaka in Central Park right here in Wellington!

Ngā mihi to everyone who helped bring Pakupaku Pīwakawaka to Central Park, and we hope you enjoy reading it as you wander the trails.

Tūhono 2024: A librarian’s guide to crafting your poem

If you haven’t heard already, it’s only a few days until May 12th when Tūhono submissions close, and we still want your poems!

Tūhono is Wellington City Libraries’ annual poetry journal for kids and teens. You can find more info about how to submit, as well as this year’s theme, here.

Poetry can be a daunting form of writing for anyone, but it needn’t be! The library has lots of cool books with some great examples and techniques for crafting your own poem. You may think that your poem needs to be incredibly wise or complex, but as poet Carol Ann Duffy once said:

You can find poetry in your everyday life, your memory, in what people say on the bus, in the news, or just what’s in your heart.

So if you’ve been thinking of submitting a poem but aren’t sure where to start, this blog post aims to help you do just that! Read on to dive into the world of children’s poetry. ✨

Poetry forms

A good starting point for any poem is a bit of structure i.e. choosing a form. Of course, you can write a poem that doesn’t follow any traditional form conventions, but forms provide a great framework for your ideas to really shine! Take for example, shape poems. Shape poems are poems that are written in the shape of their subject matter. Considering that this year’s theme is hope/tūmanako, this might be a perfect form to help you visualise what hope means for you. You might like to ask yourself, what would hope look like as an object, an animal, or an icon? If you can format it how wish it to appear in the book, then we can publish it, so let your imagination run wild. 🙂

If you’re thinking of creating a shape poem, a good book to check out is Apes to Zebras: an A to Z of shape poems:

Apes to zebras : an A-Z of shape poems / Brownlee, Liz
“This gorgeous collection of animal poems from Roger Stevens, Liz Brownlee and Sue Hardy-Dawson will entrance and delight in equal measure. Featuring a full alphabet of animals, birds, and insects, with the odd extinct or imaginary creature thrown in, these beautiful shape poems are a perfect way to introduce children to poetry. Some funny, some serious, there is something here for everyone.” (Catalogue)

This book has beautiful poems in the shape of different animals, with great examples of how creative wordplay can be in shape poem form.

Of course, there are alternative forms that also deserve your consideration!

A comprehensive guide to forms for kids would be A Kick in the Head created by Paul B. Janeczko and Chris Raschka.

A kick in the head

This book covers 29 different forms through dazzlingly illustrated poems. You’ll learn about everything from villanelles to double dactyls, as well as what makes their structure unique. The picture book style also makes this more enticing for younger readers.

Another unique poetry compilation is Skinny dip, edited by Susan Paris and Kate De Goldi.
Skinny dip : poetry
This compilation is written by NZ poets, and themed around school life, with each section being broken up into the four school terms. Although there aren’t as many forms covered as A Kick in the Head, the poems in this collection are absolutely delightful, and a prime example of how even the most mundane objects can become the subject of fun, quirky and even emotional poems.


Other starting points

Okay, so let’s say you’ve chosen a form, you have some ideas about the theme, but you’re not sure how to ACTUALLY put them on paper.

Poetry style inspiration

If you’re looking for inspiration, Out of Wonder is a beautiful celebration of poetry and poets to get your creative juices flowing.
Out of wonder : celebrating poets and poetry / Alexander, Kwame
“Newbery Medalist and a Caldecott Honoree offer a glorious, lyrical ode to poets who have sparked a sense of wonder. Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, Newbery Award-winning author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.” (Catalogue)

Each poem is written in the style of a famous poet, highlighting their unique style or ideas that inform their work. As you’re going through this book you could ask yourself, what is different about this poem, compared to the others? What kind of describing words, rhyming words or phrasing was used? Why did I enjoy/not enjoy about how this poem was written? You may like to ask mum, dad or a trusted adult to read through a couple of the poems with you to see what you can find. It can be useful to think about the style, rather than the topic, when reading poetry for inspiration because what the poem is about can vary a lot. And as mentioned, even the most dull topics can be reinvented by good style!

On Tūmanako/Hope

If you are wanting more help in thinking about hope/tūmanako though, you should definitely check out The Book of Hopes, which is a compilation of small poems, illustrations, stories and non-fiction writing all about hope in its many forms.
The book of hopes
“In difficult times, what children really need is hope. And in that spirit, Katherine Rundell emailed some of the children’s writers and artists whose work she loved most. I asked them to write something very short, fiction or non-fiction, or draw something that would make the children reading it feel like possibility-ists: something that would make them laugh or wonder or snort or smile. This collection, packed with short stories, poems and pictures from the very best children’s authors and illustrators, aims to provide just that. Within its pages you’ll find animal friends from insects to elephants, high-flying grandmas, a homesick sprite, the tooth fairy, and even extra-terrestrial life.” (Adapted from catalogue)

Exercise based

Getting into the nuts and bolts of things, if you’re looking for practical, exercise based activities then look no further than Poetry Prompts by Joseph Coelho.

Poetry prompts : all sorts of ways to start a poem / Coelho, Joseph

This book walks you through 41 poetry prompts, from themes, to creative writing techniques, to exercises engaging your 5 senses. With every prompt there’s also a “poetry power up” option if you want to take the prompt even further! Look out for prompts like number 6, 16 and 20, which cover onomatopoeia, metaphors, and personification. These are tried and true writing techniques which all the best poets use, you may have even learnt these in school already! Overall, this book could be a great option if you’re not sure how to express an idea in your poem, or you need a little pizazz to shake up what you’ve already written.

Te Reo Māori

Finally, you may have noticed that we are accepting submissions in English and te reo Māori. If you’re considering writing in or incorporating te reo, Rhyme & reo: aeiou, could be a perfect companion to your poetry writing depending on your existing fluency. In this book, author Jessica Ngatai breaks down each of the vowel sounds in poetic form, making it easier to come up with your own reo rhymes, and learn some new kupu!

Rhyme & reo : aeiou : a fun way to learn Māori vowel sounds / Ngatai, Jessica
“This book is an educational resource to help teachers, parents, whānau and children build confidence to use and enjoy te reo. Illustrated and featuring quirky Kiwi poems, weaving reo through the English text, with explanatory notes on the pronunciation of the vowel sounds appearing on a side-bar on each page”–Publisher information. Includes notes for parents and teachers.” (Catalogue)

Other useful books

The books mentioned are by no means an exhaustive list, but hopefully they give you something to chew on. If all else fails, this Michael Rosen handbook is a great resource for any budding poet:What is poetry? : the essential guide to reading & writing poems / Rosen, Michael
“Over many years as a working poet, Michael Rosen has thought a great deal about what poems are, what they can do and the pleasure that comes from writing and reading poetry. In this invaluable handbook, he shares this knowledge and experience in book form for the very first time. Starting with a detailed analysis of a number of classic poems, he offers a real writer’s guide to writing and performing poems, as well as a wealth of technical information and tips. He then takes a fascinating look at a selection of his own poems and explains how and why he wrote them. Complete with an appendix of poets and useful websites, and beautifully illustrated by award-winning artist Jill Calder, this is the only guide to poetry children and teachers will ever need.” (Catalogue)

And if you’re looking for some other introductory poetry collections, check out these two below:

Beastly verse
“This is an anthology of 16 animal poems for children, illustrated by the graphic artist JooHee Yoon. Authors include well-known poets such as Lewis Carroll, D. H. Lawrence and Laura E. Richards.” (Adapted from catalogue)
A treasury of NZ poems for children
“Poems by all the big names in both children’s and adult writing, from Margaret Mahy and Hone Tuwhare to Denis Glover as well as some fresh new poets”–Publisher’s information.” (Catalogue)

Poetry need not be archaic, stiff and boring. If nothing else, we hope these recommendations and tips inspire you to experiment, play and explore with language! Have fun with your creations! We look forward to seeing your hope/tūmanako poems. 🙂

Te Ara Pukapuka is coming to Central Park!

So far Te Ara Pukapuka has travelled around the city from Churchill Park in Seatoun, to Khandallah Park, to Kilbirnie Park, to Waihinahina Park in Newlands, to Karori Park, to the latest installment which will be arriving at Central Park on May 11!

For the Autumn 2024 installment at Central Park we have a brand new pukapuka that has been carefully chosen for this location. Wellington City Libraries and Wellington City Parks, Sport & Recreation got in touch with Upstream: Friends of Central Park and asked them if there were any particular themes, any critters or creatures that lived around the park that they’d like to see featured in the selected book. We received their list, and we think that the book we’ve chosen aligns very nicely with their suggestions.

The chosen book features a creature that can be frequently seen at Central Park. In the book, this creature has a very important mission, keeping harmful creatures out of Tane’s forest, and we also get to learn some information about this creature too.

But we’re not telling you what it is yet! Keep an eye out right here on the Kids’ Blog and we’ll reveal the selected pukapuka, along with some photos of the installation process, once it’s up and ready to be read over at Central Park. Who knows, if you get in early you might get to the park and find the book before we announce it!

A book cover with a question amrk on it

What book will you find at Central Park?

But what is Te Ara Pukapuka?

Te Ara Pukapuka is a children’s walk where you get to read a wonderful pukapuka as you get out and explore nature. The first page of the story will be displayed at the start of the track, then as you follow the path along you also read a story.

Each pukapuka selected for Te Ara Pukapuka is by a New Zealand author, and we match the subject matter of the book to the natural surroundings in each park.

While you’re pondering which book we’ve selected for Te Ara Pukapuka at Central Park, why not check out some of the pukapuka featured in previous installations around the city?

The taniwha of Wellington Harbour / Wairama, Moira
“Retelling of the legend of how Wellington Harbour was created. In ancient times in Aotearoa, there was a beautiful lake in which there dwelt two monstrous taniwha. Their names were Whataitai and Ngake. Whataitai and Ngake are two taniwha living in a beautiful lake, however when Ngake gets bored and decides to break free into the ocean his actions have far reaching consequences and help shape the landscape of our capital city. Suggested level: junior, primary.” (Catalogue)

Watch out, snail / Hay, Gay
“In the New Zealand bush, a native Powelliphanta Snail must escape from a variety of predators, including a possum, a hedgehog and a wild pig. Includes factual information on Powelliphanta and New Zealand wildlife, and an English-to-Maori glossary. Suggested level: junior.” (Catalogue)

The promise of Puanga : a story for Matariki / Wadsworth, Kirsty
“There is a bright new star in the winter sky — Puanga, cousin to the Matariki sisters. Each year, she appears to the people of Aotearoa, a special sign (for those unable to see Matariki) that winter and the Māori new year are coming. With themes of friendship, family, Māori tradition and the empowerment of young women”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Flit the Fantail and the flying flop / Merewether, Katherine Q.
“‘Flit the baby fantail is not allowed to fly. “Stay here, little Flit. Your wings are not strong enough for flying,” say Ma and Pa Fantail. “Stay safe inside the nest.” But Flit is bored. And hungry. A tasty mozzie lures him out of his nest. “I CAN fly,” he calls, before he hits the ground with a THUD. How will he get back to his nest? Join Flit and his friends, Kiki the kaka, rascally robins Bit and Bob, Keri the kiwi and wise old Ruru as they exercise some teamwork. Can they figure out a way to help Flit back to his nest safely before Ma and Pa return?”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Tama and the taniwha / Koster, Melanie
“Don’t put your puku in the water! The taniwha will get you! Tama’s big sisters to scare him. Is he brave enough to dive into the lake? And will a glittery, flashy-splashy taniwha get him?”–Back cover” (Catalogue)

Explore and Discover with the City Nature Challenge!

Are you fascinated by the small scuttling things you see in rockpools, the native insects hiding in your garden, or the different bushes, weeds, and trees you see while out for a walk around Wellington? Why not finish off the school holidays in true environmental style and take part in the City Nature Challenge!

Heading: Hoake ki te Taiao City nature Challenge, What can you discover around Wellington?" next to stylized images of kereru, wētā, mushrooms, and other native flora and fauna

From Friday 26 April to Monday 29 April cities around the world will be competing in the City Nature Challenge. During the challenge your goal is to search for, report, and log any sightings of wild plants, creatures, or organisms, living or dead, on the land, up the mountains, in the sea — and in your backyard. There’s even been a plea sent out from DOC for people to submit pictures of weeds!

We’re taking part in the City Nature Challenge to record which species are in our city to help study and protect them – or in the case of those weeds DOC is after, to provide information to help us detect new weed infestations early. The more people who take part, the more information we can provide!

It’s super easy to take part – just download the iNaturalist app (free on the app store). Once you’re set up with an iNaturalist account, any observation you make in the Greater Wellington Region during the challenge dates will be automatically added to the challenge. You can find a great guide to getting started and submitting observations here.

If you’d like some inspiration, here are some of the observations that were made last year during the 2023 City Nature Challenge in the Greater Wellington Region.

There are also a number of whānau-friendly Discovery Events being held across the city to encourage people to look more closely at the natural world around them:

Information about these events can also be found over on the Wellington City Nature Challenge webpage, and we also recommend checking out the Te Upoko o te Ika (Wellington Region) project page over on iNaturalist.

If you’d like to head off on your own discovery walk, we highly recommend taking a copy of Giselle Clarkson’s The Observologist along with you. It’s full of interesting facts and useful tips for finding small and fascinating creatures, plants, and fungi in the most unexpected of places.

Here are some books you may find useful as you participate in the City Nature Challenge this weekend:

The observologist / Clarkson, Giselle
“An observologist is someone who makes scientific  expeditions every day, albeit very small ones. They notice interesting details in the world around them. They are expert at finding tiny creatures, plants and fungi. They know that earthworms have bristles, that moths come out in the daytime and how many tentacles a slug has. An observologist knows that there are fascinating things to be found in even the most ordinary places.”–Back cover.

Critters of Aotearoa : 50 bizarre but lovable members of our wildlife community / Toki, Nic
“Slimy, stinky, creepy, crawly and gross, but also a little bit cute! Discover New Zealand’s most curious creatures, from Smeagol the gravel maggot, to the walking worm and the drooping blobfish, with Nicola Toki from the hit Radio New Zealand show ‘Critter of the Week’ as your guide. Featuring 50 illustrated profiles of Aotearoa’s weird and wonderful critters, and an introduction by Jesse Mulligan, this book proves that sometimes nature’s best stories are the ones you have to work a little harder to uncover. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

New Zealand nature heroes / Candler, Gillian
“New Zealand Nature Heroes is designed to inspire and empower New Zealand kids to be naturalists and conservationists. The book features stories of 15 different nature heroes, people, who, in the past, or currently, are working to protect and understand New Zealand’s natural world.”–Publisher’s website.” (Catalogue)

The life-size guide to insects & other land invertebrates of New Zealand / Crowe, Andrew
“Pictorial guide to identifying common insects, spiders and other land invertebrates of New Zealand. Suggested level: primary, intermediate, secondary.” (Catalogue)

The life-size guide to native trees and other common plants of New Zealand’s native forest / Crowe, Andrew
“Identifying native trees and other common plants of New Zealand’s native forest can be fun for all the family with this new pictorial guide. Match leaves, flowers, seeds, berries and bark against beautiful, life-sized photographs for fast, accurate identification. Written by one of New Zealand’s foremost writers on native plants, The Life-Size Guide offers a new opportunity to explore and enjoy the natural world of our native plants.” (Catalogue)

Wildlife of Aotearoa / Bishop, Gavin
“Long before waka touched Aotearoa’s shores, the land of the long white cloud was home to an array of creatures uniquely adapted to its environments and protected by its isolation. Encounter New Zealand’s incredible wildlife in this spectacular visual exploration. Journey through ocean, sky and land to meet a marvellous range of organisms. Discover fascinating facts, and learn how we influence the survival of our living treasures”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

24 hours on the kiwi seashore / Torckler, Gillian
“Describes each four hour period along the coastline, and provides information about the birds, fish and sea creatures that feature in each time period.” (Catalogue)

New Zealand’s backyard beasts / Barraud, Ned
“In the garden, creeping along branches, hiding under stones or flitting from flower to flower, a whole universe of creatures is waiting to be discovered. In New Zealand’s Backyard Beasts, children (and adults) can learn to identify some of the creatures most commonly found in the backyard. Explore bees and wasps, beetles, butterflies, and moths (insects), centipedes and millipedes (myriapods), spiders (arachnids), snails and slugs (crustaceans) and more. From the simply curious to the budding entomologist, New Zealand’s Backyard Beasts will please and inform all age groups about the fascinating creatures found in the back garden.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Fish Doorbell – Help a Fish on the Other Side of the World!

What is the Fish Doorbell?

The Fish Doorbell (or visdeurbel in Dutch) is exactly what it sounds like – a doorbell for fish!

The Vecht, a branch of the river Rhine, flows through Utrecht.  As it goes through the city, the Vecht passes through the Weerdsluis lock – a lock is a bit like a gate that’s been engineered to help boats travel along rivers or canals uphill. If you’d like to know a bit more about locks, we recommend heading over to the Encyclopedia Britannica. To access this article on Britannica, just sign in with your library card barcode number and 4-digit pin.

At this time of year when it’s spring in the northern hemisphere, the Weerdluis lock isn’t opened very often for boats to pass through. This is also the time of year when fish swim up the Vecht, looking for a place to lay their eggs. When the lock is kept shut for longer periods of time, groups of fish have to wait for the lock to open, making them easy prey for predators like grebes and cormorants.

What did the people of Utrecht do to fix this problem? They created the fish doorbell!A fish swimming on the right, on the left is a rock with a doorbell on it.

An underwater camera was set up, and anyone anywhere in the world can watch the livestream. When someone watching sees a fish in the livestream, they press the digital fish doorbell. When enough people watching the livestream all ring the doorbell at the same time, the lock operator is sent a signal to open the lock and let the fish through. And the lock operators keep records of the nicest fish photos and release a weekly Fish Doorbell News Report too!

The fish doorbell is live throughout spring in Utrecht, and mid-April is a popular time for fish to be queuing at the gate. Why don’t you join in and help out a fish on the other side of the world?

The livestream can be watched below on Youtube or over on the Visdeurbel website. If you’re watching on Youtube you’ll have to go over to the Visdeurbel website if you need to ring the doorbell!

If you’d like to read about different fish and animal migration while watching the livestream, we’ve put together some books for you.

Wildlife of Aotearoa / Bishop, Gavin
“Long before waka touched Aotearoa’s shores, the land of the long white cloud was home to an array of creatures uniquely adapted to its environments and protected by its isolation. Encounter New Zealand’s incredible wildlife in this spectacular visual exploration. Journey through ocean, sky and land to meet a marvellous range of organisms. Discover fascinating facts, and learn how we influence the survival of our living treasures”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)
All about New Zealand’s freshwater wildlife / Gunson, Dave
“Introduces a variety of plants and animals that are commonly found in New Zealand’s freshwater streams and rivers. Describes characteristics and where each species can be found. Suggested level: junior, primary, intermediate.” (Catalogue)
Good jump, little carp : a Chinese myth retold in English and Chinese / Jin, Bo
“A long time ago, in a remote river, there lived a happy little carp who had many good friends and played games with them every day. One day, his friend tadpole grows up into a frog and leaves for the outside world. The little carp becomes very curious. What does the outside world look like? Dad says that only fish who swim across eighty-one rivers to the Yellow River, and jump over the Dragon Gate, can leave the water and reach the outside world. But his mother says that fish can never leave the water. However, the little carp is determined to find the Dragon Gate. The little carp keeps swimming and swimming. When the little carp finally reaches the Yellow River, will he be able to jump over the high Dragon Gate?” (Adapted from Catalogue)
Freshwater fishes / McEwan, Amber
“Introduces the physical characteristics, habitat and behaviour of different species of New Zealand freshwater fishes.” (Catalogue)
A fish out of water / Palmer, Helen
A young boy gets his first pet fish, but forgets the instructions he was given at the pet shop and feeds his fish more than just a spot. When his fish starts growing, and growing, and GROWING it takes even the police and a fire engine to help manage this fish out of water!
Atlas of amazing migrations / Sewell, Matt
“Matt Sewell is back with a sumptuous celebration of our planet’s most extreme journeys, showcasing the most amazing mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and insects that battle through the Earth’s toughest conditions in order to survive. Follow flocks of arctic terns on their annual 40,000-kilometre journey between the Earth’s poles. Join the monarch butterflies on their famous pilgrimage from Canada to Mexico. Awe at wildebeest, humpback whales, salmon, dragonflies, and more. Find out how they navigate themselves on their impressive journeys – chemicals, the sun and or the Earth’s magnetic field.” (Adapted from Catalogue)
The Maketū whitebait / Werohia
Whitey, Tere and Freddy are three whitebait friends from Maketū. Freddy suddenly disappears and finds he is inside a slippery, slimy, slithery eel. Without hesitation, Whitey swims into the eel to save his friend. Tere tries desperately to distract the eel from juicing his friends up. How can they possibly escape such an awesome foe? (Adapted from Catalogue)

Also available in Te Reo Māori

Draw Along with Paul Beavis at Karori Library!

Learn from the master himself!

During the April school holidays, we are lucky to be hosting superstar author and illustrator Paul Beavis (Nee Naw, There Was an Odd Farmer Who Swallowed a Fly, Ring Ting Tūī) for a fantastic workshop at Te Māhanga Karori Library.

Come along to Karori Library at 2pm on Friday the 26th of April to meet Paul, learn all about how a picture book gets made, and draw along with him to pick up some new skills from the master. Who knows, you might even be inspired to start writing your own picture book!

Space is limited, so registrations are required — sign up here. This workshop is suitable for tamariki aged 6+ with their caregivers.

To get you excited, here are some of our favourite books from Paul’s catalogue, all available to reserve from the library:

Mrs. Mo’s monster / Beavis, Paul
“A monster with a one-track mind meets his match in an elderly lady called Mrs. Mo. With Mrs. Mo’s help, the monster is surprised to discover that he can do more than he ever thought, but that’s not the only surprise Mrs. Mo has in store”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Hello World / Beavis, Paul
“Monster is bored, but Mr. and Mrs. Mo are too busy to play. Monster decides to go off on an adventure.” (Catalogue)

Nee Naw the little fire engine / Yipadee, Deano
“The sing-along story of Nee Naw the Little Fire Engine is now available in a new board book edition! Granny’s in trouble – her house is on fire and she is trapped! The two big engines go roaring off to help but both suffer misfortune on the way to Granny’s place. Time for Nee Naw to step up and show what he can do! “–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Stink-o-saurus / Yipadee, Deano
“Stan was a rare dinosaur, a one of a kind. Most from their front, HIS roar came from his BEHIND! Youll split your pants laughing at Stan, the worlds only STINK-O-SAURUS. But can his stinky antics save the day and keep Tommy T-Rex far away?” (Catalogue)

There was an odd farmer who swallowed a fly / Millett, Peter
“Peek through the holes in the pages to see what the odd farmer swallows in this favourite nursery rhyme with a pitch-perfect Kiwi twist!”–Publisher information.” (Catalogue)

Become an expert joke-teller / Moffatt, Tom
“Tired of no-one laughing at your jokes? You don’t have to be. Joke-telling is a skill, like playing the piano or juggling live hedgehogs. This book teaches you that skill with easy-to-follow instructions and simple exercises”–Back cover.” (Catalogue)

Take me to your leader / Agnew, Leonie
“Eleven-year-old Lucas has got a new worry to add to his long, long list – his rural school is on the Ministry of Education’s list for closure. What’s his mum going to do if he and his sister have to start travelling to a school an hour or two away? […] He and his friends come up with a mad idea to revive their town and save their school –they stage an alien encounter. […] Before Lucas knows it, he’s lost control of his plot, and a chain of unpredictable (and often hilarious) events that follow are quickly turning to chaos!” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Ring Ting Tūī / Roo, Elena de
“The familiar antics of one of New Zealand’s favourite native birds have been captured by award-winning picture book creators Elena de Roo and Paul Beavis. SQUAWK! Things are getting loud! The kowhai branch is bending … what a sticky tūī crowd! Have the tūī slurped too much kowhai nectar to make an escape? Bursting with fun – and nectar! – this melodious tūī story will have children and adults joining in with the tūī sounds until they too fall to the ground, just like the crowd of too many tūī. Elena de Roo’s sparse use of clever text and impeccable rhythm is combined with Paul Beavis’s artwork that oozes with character, creating a special picture book fit for a clutch of chaotic tūī, and finished off with ten fascinating tūī facts.” (Catalogue)

Find out more about Paul, and keep up to date with his releases at his website: Paul Beavis – Author and Illustrator

School Holidays: WHODUNNIT? at Wellington City SPYbraries

From the 13th to the 28th of April, we invite you to join us for WHODUNNIT? at Wellington City SPYbraries and enter a world of detectives, spies, espionage, and mystery.

We have a whole range of exciting activities planned for you – race against the clock to solve a mystery, search through your local library – sorry, SPYbrary – to solve the mystery of the Golden Tickets, create your own kit of spy gadgets, or put together a tricksy maze using our LEGO® sets – there’s something for everyone!

Wellington City Libraries will also be welcoming two authors into our spaces over the April holidays.

Avril McDonald will be joining us in seven of our libraries for several storytimes throughout the first week of the holidays as she celebrates the launch of her latest book The Wolf and the Hocus Pocus and of the Empowering Brave Voices campaign. For more information about these events, check out this blog post.

Paul Beavis will be leading a fantastic workshop at Te Māhanga | Karori Library in the second week of the holidays where tamariki will get to learn about how a picture book is made and learn some illustration tips and tricks from the master. To find out more about this event, check out this blog post.

If you’re a bit older (ages 12-19) head over to our Teen Blog to learn about our online challenge for teens!

Visit this page to see the whole calendar, or read on to find out more about what’s coming up at your local library or community centre!


Whodunnit? Puzzle Room Challenge

Race the timer to solve a mystery!Three red question marks on a black background

Work your way as a team through a series of hands-on and brain-teasing puzzles to solve the mystery, accuse the correct suspect, and save the day!

Recommended for tamariki aged 7-13 with their caregivers.

Find out how to register for a 30-minute slot with the links below.

Incognito Investigator Kit

Are you a super spy in the making?black and white images of a mask and cardboard magnifying glass and binoculars

Come along to the library to craft your very own spy-kit. Make and decorate your very own binoculars, magnifying glass, mask, or spy-dentification card.

For tamariki aged 5+ with their caregivers.

Join us at two of our libraries for a special detective-themed storytime, followed by the chance to create something to add to your investigator kit.

Where in the Library is Carmen Sandiego?

1985 – the year of the release of the original Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? on floppy disk!an early-stly computer with three red question marks above it, over a background of green binary code

Enter a virtual time machine at the library and learn how to enable our modern computers to run video games from the ‘80s and early ‘90s using emulation software, and experience the classic sleuthing game from 1985 in its original form.

For ages 10+ with their caregivers, if under 14. Laptops will be provided.

Registrations are required as spaces are limited. Find out how to register using the links below.

Golden Ticket Quest

Join us at the library for a thrilling detective adventure!A beaver holding a pencil looks at a board explaining the pigpen code, under a pair of glowing golden tickets

Decode cryptic clues, uncover mysterious messages, and work together in teams to find golden tickets hidden within the library. Can your team find all the tickets before your time runs out?

For ages 8+ with their caregivers.

To register for a librarian-led team experience, visit the link below. Otherwise just drop into your local library, ask the librarian at the desk for the first clue, and head off on your own adventure amongst the shelves!

Let’s go LEGO®: Spy Edition

Come down to the library and test your hand at LEGO® mazes and blind builds!A scene of LEGO minifigs - a detective holds a magnifying glass as a robber climbs the side of a building behind her

Put your creative skills to the test as you design and build your masterpiece using our LEGO® collections.
Recommended for tamariki aged 5+ with their caregivers.

Or join us at Tawa Community Centre for a session of Let’s Go LEGO®: Gadget Edition and combine LEGO® building with some of our spy-gadgets.

Mystery Movie

Join us at the SPYbrary for a casual film viewing of a *mysterious* nature.A giraffe wearing sunglasses and a whale with a false moustache stand in front of a beam of light cast by a camera

What movie are we showing? Who knows?! – we’re not allowed to tell! (But if you call and ask we will let you know!)
Will it be good? – Absolutely! Well, we think so anyway.

All movies screened are rated G or PG.

Tech Time: Gadget Fun

Come along for a hands-on experience with our library spy-gadgets!robotic bee-bots next to a magnifying glass

Try out our robots, and other devices and have the freedom to experiment with them in a (reasonably) free-play environment.

Registrations are required as spaces are limited. Find out how to register using the link below.

Throwback Gaming Afternoon

Experience retro gaming at the library!

Whether you’re joining us for an afternoon of nostalgia, or to experience new (old) video games, there’s something for everyone. We have a variety of consoles from several decades for you to try out.

This event is for ages 10+ (with no upper age limit!), and registrations are required. Find out how to register using the links below.

Experience VR

Virtual reality (VR) offers us a new and exciting way to learn about and experience the world around us. From 3D painting and virtual sculpting to problem-solving with robots and exploring some of the world’s most extreme locations, this is your opportunity to experience VR from the safety and comfort of the Island Bay Community Centre.

This event is suitable for rangatahi aged 10+. Space is limited, so registrations are required — visit the link below to register.

Mystery Board Games

Channel your inner Sherlock and solve mysteries and uncover secrets!

Bring your friends along and make some new ones at our casual mystery-themed board game session.
Choose from a selection of our board games, or bring your own to share.

For ages 5+. Those under 14 will need to be accompanied by a caregiver.

Empowering Brave Voices with author Avril McDonald

Over the April school holidays, Wellington City Libraries will be welcoming author Avril McDonald into our libraries for several storytimes as she celebrates the launch of her latest book The Wolf and the Hocus Pocus and the Empowering Brave Voices campaign.

Both book and campaign launch on the 9th of April. They are here to teach children an important message: to seek out a trusted adult until they find one who believes them and will act on their behalf to keep them safe.

Avril’s Feel Brave series tell stories that help children manage their tough emotions and deal with BIG feelings. Avril is an Ambassador for the Life Education Trust, who use her books in many of their programmes. To learn more about the Feel Brave series, you can check out Avril’s website.

The Wolf and the Hocus Pocus: Storytelling and Songs with Author Avril McDonald

book cover - the wolf and the hocus pocusAvril’s 45-minute storytelling sessions will be full of stories, songs, and well-being exercises for children. Joined by the Feel Brave puppets, Avril will read The Wolf and the Hocus Pocus – and other stories! – and give the tamariki attending some simple strategies to deal with BIG feelings.

After the storytime, tamariki will have the chance to purchase their own copy of The Wolf and the Hocus Pocus and have it signed.

Recommended for ages 4-7 with their caregivers.

If you’d like to check out Avril’s books before attending one of her storytelling sessions, here are a few we recommend.

The purrfect pawse : a little book to help children pause, stretch and be grateful / McDonald, Avril
“In The Purrfect Pawse: A little book to help children pause, stretch and be grateful, Avril McDonald returns with some of the colourful, lovable characters from her Feel Brave series to help nurture young children’s physical and mental well-being through a combination of activity and poetry. The Purrfect Pawse uses rhythm, rhyme and ……” (Catalogue)

The wolf’s colourful coat / McDonald, Avril
“Wolfgang loves his new colourful winter coat but when some nasty creatures make fun of it, he is upset by what they say and stops wearing it. Spider helps Wolfgang be brave enough to tell someone big that he trusts and he learns that things aren’t always as they seem. Ages 0+” (Catalogue)

The wolf and the baby dragon / McDonald, Avril
“When Wolfgang and his friends learn about a cave where a baby dragon has hatched in a nest they quickly run off to find it. But sadly Wolfgang gets left behind. His bag is full of heavy worries that are making him slow and he just can’t let go of them. When Wolfgang trips and falls, Spider shows him how to take a rest from his worries for a while and that if he can share them, they will be easier to manage.” (Catalogue)

The wolf was not sleeping / McDonald, Avril
“This heartwarming bedtime story was specially written to soothe the anxiety of children whose parents work as first responders and to encourage conversations which help them manage trauma. Wolfgang’s dad works as a helper: when the wolves sound the alarm, he has to leave to help the other creatures in the forest. Each night Wolfgang worries about what might happen if his dad gets the call. His worries are so bad that they keep him awake, and he is falling asleep in the daytime instead! An ideal bedtime read for young children whose parents are first responders, whether they be firefighters, police officers, ambulance crew, coastguards, or work in any other roles within stressful environments. Part of Avril McDonald’s Feel Brave series – little stories about big feelings.” (Adapted from Catalogue)