An original story spread across 150 pages consisting of 5 chapters/issues that follows the journey of Hell’na.
An Axeland woman who must assemble a ragtag group of mercenaries and escort a vessel of the Māori god Tāne through a new world in search of the Demigod Māui.
It is a heroes journey of discovering their place in a vibrant new world, rich in culture, danger, and mystery
This Land: The Search for Māui, Book One, published by Scholastic New Zealand, is available now in New Zealand and Australian bookstores and from online retailers such as Mighty Ape, the Nile, and Book Depository.
Book One consists of the original single comic issues 1-3
Tēna koe Hello
Ko Pirongia te maunga
The mountain that I affiliate to is Pirongia
Ko Waikato te awa
The river that I affiliate to is Waikato
Ko Pakeha te iwi
My tribe is Pakeha
Ko Mark Abnett tōku ingoa
My name is Mark Abnett
I have always been passionate about the creative medium of comic books and their ability to generate stories that hold one's imagination and help people to love reading.
In 2016 I was lucky enough to win an international talent contest and had a short story published and distributed globally by Image Comics in America.
It is a cutthroat industry often for very little pay for the creators and is more often than not a project of passion.
why did you create this land?
As I continued my journey into Comics storytelling I started to look at what I would be passionate about and what I could do with my own time and money that could create something that would have resonated with me when I was young.
After living in Scotland for the past 7 years I realised that despite being surrounded by history very few people in the U.K. actually knew theirs.
In fact, the NZ school system had taught me better about British History than theirs had!
This got me thinking why was this the case and why did I not remember NZ History to the same degree.
I grew up Pākehā middle class in Kirikiriroa/Hamilton and attended Fairfield Intermediate and Hamilton Boys High School.
NZ History wasn’t even an option till Seventh Form!
My recollection of Māori legends was limited to Peter Gossage’s picture books in primary school. I had virtually no grasp of Te reo aside from kia ora and kapai so why was that?
Looking at Aotearoa from afar I see so many potential opportunities where my younger self could have been exposed and educated in the history of my country rather than it been given lip service and more than often treated with conscious/unconscious racism.
I'm interested in telling stories inspired by the histories and information recorded in storytelling traditions of indigenous people of Aotearoa. This is important to the identity of all New Zealanders whether we're Māori, Pākeha, or Tauiwi.
I've created a new world where our people are using the lessons and legends of the past to guide them (literally in some cases) to a better tomorrow.
I grew up with Tintin and Asterix books and somehow still remember French and Latin words from those books and believe that comics are the perfect medium to subtly introduce te reo Māori for another generation.
Not only for the children of New Zealand but potentially for a global audience as well.
who will benefit
My main goals for this project have been
A)Showcase my comic writing talent
B)Leave a resource to help normalise te reo globally and within NZ Homes and make it part of the everyday language for young Kiwi kids to absorb
C) Introduce the world to powerful stories and the legends of Aotearoa.
who are your
My main creative partners on the book include
P.R Dedelis on art
P.R has been a professional comics Artist for the last 10 years and is based out of Poland. Working on titles such as 5 Seconds, Wordsmith (sigmate Studio), Team Synergy (HB Comics) and now THIS LAND
Liezl Buenaventura on colours
Liezl colours comics professionals with the likes of Zenescope, Scout Comics, TPub Comics, and many more. Liezl is based in the Philippines with her family.
Hass is a writer, letterer, and editor working for publishers such as Image Comics &
Dynamite Comics. He is also an Eisner Award winner (the Oscars of Comics) for his publication Panel x Panel and host of Youtube series Strip Panel Naked. Hass is a
British born and of Moroccan descent.
I chose to work with a team of seasoned comic book professionals who could help elevate my ideas to the next level whilst offering the professionalism and expertise that were required for this unique comic project.
6. Did you seek any Specific Information or Advice from Māori?
I've been working hard on this project for several years and have been relying on the expertise of whakapapa to ensure designs were not linked to existing hapū or iwi designs ...
For example, we are also not using traditional moko because they shouldn’t be traditional but new and contemporary for the context of the story.
There are some facial tattoos that are not even moko at all but you will have to read the story to find the answers to that question!
I fully acknowledge where I am not an expert I have sought expert help.
My main point of advice and guidance has been Verona-Meiana Putaranui.
Verona and I met when we studied together at Waikato Polytechnic and graduated in the early 2000s.
She is Te Aitanga ā Hauiti, Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata, Ngāi Tāmanuhiri, and Ngāti Pāhauwera.
She is a Māori communications and engagement practitioner most recently leading Māori comms and
engagement on the New Zealand government’s COVID-19 response.
Other creative partners have included
Kowhaiwhai design by Hekiera Mareroa
New iwi designs by Seb Wikaraka Peni,
Ngāti Te Ngakau (https://sebpeni.crevado.com)
Character designs by Michel Mulipola
Character designs by Craig Peterson. (https://mechazoic.com)
Moko Design by Te Haunui Tuna (http://tehaunuiart.com) Ngāi Tūhoe
Translation by Trent Brown Waikato District Health Board He is Pou Tiaki , The Cultural and Policy advisor.
How has THIS LAND been received?
The first issue/chapter of THIS LAND was made available for purchase in the UK at Glasgow Comic-con 2019
The release was very low key and was to serve as an incubation stage or proof of
concept to receive feedback from people outside of Aotearoa/New Zealand and to
test its viability in a foreign market. The response was overwhelming and we had to
rush to get another print run done in time for world-famous Lakes Comics Arts
Festival 2019 in Kendal.
The book has been particularly popular with preteens and young women
It has also been reviewed kindly by The Valkyries UK
- see here
Further trials in New Zealand schools have seen similar results with demand for the rest of the story sky high!