Andrew Crowe was born in England to Irish immigrant parents, and reached New Zealand by ship at the age of twenty. After learning how to survive alone in the native forest, spending three years researching the topic, he put out his first book, A Field Guide to the Native Edible Plants of New Zealand. ‘My parents must have despaired about what I was doing with my life,’ he says. ‘How could learning to be at ease in the forest, pondering how Māori adapted from the tropics, and discovering how to live on very little equip anyone for a job?' To their surprise, and Andrew's too, he went on to become an award-winning author of some 40 non-fiction books, many of which seek to foster a deeper appreciation of New Zealand's natural world. His latest, Pathway of the Birds: The Voyaging Achievements of Māori and their Polynesian Ancestors (Bateman/University of Hawaii Press, 2018), was inspired by an appreciation of Polynesian skills and similarities in languages across the Pacific. Between the US and New Zealand, it has won critical acclaim and four awards, and went on to serve as a primary source for TVNZ/ Scotty Morrison's Origins Season 2.
PATHWAY OF THE BIRDS: The Voyaging Achievements of Māori and their Polynesian Ancestors
New Zealand history books (including the recent award-winning Tangata Whenua) continue to claim that Māori reached Aotearoa – New Zealand by accident, holding to a widely held belief that Polynesian voyagers were 'certainly heroic but not necessarily skilful'. In Pathway of the Birds, science writer Andrew Crowe brings out a very different story. His readable and wide-ranging summary of evidence concerning the country's founding history – and that of the Pacific as a whole – confirms the unique capabilities of Pacific seafarers, in particular their ability to find and re-find incredibly small and/or remote maritime targets. How? As Hawaiian master navigator Nainoa Thompson explains: 'Everything you need to navigate is in nature. The question is, can you see it?' In Pathway of the Birds, Crowe elaborates on the many ways in which an appreciation of the natural world does indeed provide a significant key to understanding one of the most expansive and rapid phases of human migration in prehistory – a relatively brief period during which an oceanic region the size of Africa (including New Zealand, the Hawaiian Islands and Easter Island and all the islands in between), was discovered and settled by a single race of people.
HINEMOANA ON THE COVER
Hinemoana, the traditional-style sailing waka featured on the book's front cover, was purchased for Aotearoa by Dr Simon McDonald in response to a sneak preview of this book. In the year following the book's publication, this 22-metre waka hourua (now owned and operated by Te Toki Voyaging Trust) would come to play a prominent role in the re-enacted arrival of Captain James Cook off Whitianga during New Zealand's Tuia 250 voyaging commemorations in 2019, an event that helped highlight the 'remarkable achievements of Polynesian sailors'.
The book's title, Pathway of the Birds, highlights the deliberate and skilled nature of Polynesian exploration, navigation and settlement and is inspired by a traditional Tuamotuan voyaging chant of the same name. Here (left), we see a clip from the spring migration of some 20 million tītī (sooty shearwaters) to Aotearoa.
The author supports an indigenous renaissance in Pacific voyaging. Photo left: Author with Anihera Black (who crewed from Aotearoa to Rapa Nui), and Mahu Rāwiri (who built and sails a traditional Hawaiian-style craft in Tīkapa Moana-o-Hauraki).
WEBINARS about the book available at Te Toki Voyaging Trust, and Sarasota Audubon, Florida ♦ AUTHOR INTERVIEWS at Radio New Zealand National and The Lovepost ♦ BOOK TRAILER at Guided by Birds
A GREAT READ
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OTHER BOOKS BY ANDREW CROWE
A Field Guide to the Native Edible Plants of New Zealand
– published by Penguin
Andrew's career as a writer began with this book, a handy field guide that remains popular to this day. It was first published as a hardback by Collins in 1981, redesigned and republished in paperback by Hodder & Stoughton in 1990, redesigned and published again as a hardback by Godwit in 1997, then reprinted more than 20 times by Penguin from 2004.
Which? series – published by Penguin
A range of award-winning beginners' field guides followed, featuring simple ID keys and a holistic view of the natural world.
- AIM Children's Book Award 1995 (Winner)
- LIANZA Book Award 2003 (Winner)
- NZPost Children's Book Award 2008 (Winner)
- AIM Children's Book Awards 1995 (Finalist)
- NZLIA Book Awards 1996 (Finalist)
- NZPost Children's Book Awards 2002, 2003 (Finalists)
- Montana Book Awards 2002, 2003 (Finalists)
Life-Size Guides – published by Penguin
This led on to an innovative ID series, featuring life-size images, aimed to be still more widely accessible, appealing especially to reluctant readers.
- LIANZA Book Award 1998 (Winner)
- GP Book Design Awards 1998 (Finalist)
- NZPost Children's Book Awards 1998, 2000, 2004, 2005 (Finalists)
- LIANZA Book Awards 2004 (Finalist)
Mini Guides – published by Penguin
NZPost Children's Book Awards 2008 (Finalist)
Nature Flip Guide series – published by Penguin
Wild Stories series – published by Heinemann Education
Patterns in Nature series – published by Longman Paul
In English in 1990 and in te reo Māori in 1991 as
Ngā Tauira Taiao
First published by Penguin 1998 (twice), 1999, 2003, 2008. Republished (with more te reo Māori) by Bateman 2022
- NZPost Children's Book Awards 1998 (Finalist)
The Dalai Lama Story – published by Longacre 2007
Ashton Wylie Award 2005 (Winner – unpublished manuscript)
The Parks and Woodlands of London – Fourth Estate, London 1987
Earthkids – published by Penguin 1992
AIM Children's Book Awards 1993 (Finalist)
Margaret Mahy Medal
In 2009, Andrew Crowe received New Zealand's top honour for children's literature -- the Margaret Mahy Medal – the first non-fiction writer to receive this award. In the words of the judge, 'He has arguably done more to shape the format and accessibility of information in children’s non-fiction in New Zealand than any other author'.