Activity for ‘Papa’s Donuts’

Papa’s Donuts

by Kate Moetaua

This is a story about Nika, a young Kiwi girl, and her Cook Island family. With a Kiwi mum and a Cook Island dad, Nika talks about how special she feels having cousins all over the world. Nika has an extra special relationship with her Papa. In the story she describes the night before a family wedding, when all the family stay together at her Papa’s house talking, playing cards and laughing together. In the middle of the night, Nika sneaks out of bed and down into the basement, where Papa is busy making his famous donuts for the family. Nika stays up all night, talking with Papa and helping him with his donuts. Papa’s Donuts is a special story about the importance of family and time together. There is emphasis on the multiculturalism of New Zealand.

This book was nominated because it is extremely popular with young children, and emphasises the importance of intergenerational connections. The book was also recommended for the collection because of how the story shows the reader “the daily lives of Pacific families… the flower in the hair, all the grandmas, the busyness… and where they’re all sleeping in the sitting room.”

Activity: FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS: A Special Person

 (English/ Health & Physical Education)

Curriculum Level

1 & 2 (see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies

  • thinking
  • using language, symbols and text
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing


 1.Read the story with the children. After reading, talk about the girl in the story and the special relationships she has with the people in her family – in particular, her Papa. Ask:

  • Who is special to her?
  • How do we know?
  • What special things does she do to show she cares for the people in her family?
  • Does she enjoy spending time with the people in her family? What special things does she enjoy doing with them?

2.Encourage the children to think about one special person in their family… it might be a parent, a grandparent, aunty or uncle, brother, sister or cousin.

  • Can you think of a person in your family who is special to you?
  • Why are they special to you?
  • Do you enjoy doing some special things together? What things?
  • What do you do to show this person that they are special to you?
  • What do they do to show that you are special to them?

3. Take children through a visualization, so that they are able to bring up a very clear, vivid memory of one special time with their family member (like the girls ‘donut’ experience with her Papa):

 I want you to think of one really special time that you had with this person in your family. Just one time. Where are you? What are you doing? How old are you? What are you saying to each other? How are you feeling at this time? Is anyone else there?

Children may wish to share their memory with a buddy, or with the class. Being able to share their thoughts will help them to organise their ideas for writing.

  • At Level 1, children could draw a picture of their memory
  • At Level 2, children could create a written plan of their memory, trying to get all of the detail down that they can.

4. This could lead on to writing about their special family memory. Children could write about what happened and how they felt at the time.

The children’s writing could be published and put together in a class book, if appropriate, for children to look back over.


  • paper, pens, pencils for writing

Curriculum Links

 English  Listening, Reading and Viewing

  • recognise and identify ideas within and across texts (Level 1)
  • show some understanding of ideas within, across and beyond texts (Level 2)

Speaking, Writing and Presenting

  • form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 1)
  • select, form and express ideas on a range of topics (Level 2)

Health & Physical Education

Personal Health & Physical Development

Personal Identity

  • describe themselves in relation to a range of contexts (Level 1)
  • identify personal qualities that contribute to a sense of self-worth (Level 2)

Relationships with Other People


  • explore and share ideas about relationships with other people (Level 1)
  • identify and demonstrate ways of maintaining and enhancing relationships between individuals and within groups (Level 2)

Interpersonal Skills

  • express their own ideas, needs, wants and feelings clearly and listen to those of other people (Level 2)
  • express their ideas, needs, wants and feelings appropriately and listen sensitively to other people and affirm them (Level 2)

Links to other PPBC books

Tulevai and the Sea by Joy Cowley

A Quilt for Kiri by Don Long

Selafina by Catherine Hannken

Fiapule by Catherine Hannken

Talia by Catherine Hannken

The Pipi Swing by Sarona Aiono-Iosefa

Papa’s Jandals by Lino Nelisi

Turtle Songs: A Tale for Mothers and Daughters by Margaret Olivia Wolfson

– all of these books describe close family relationships.

Other Ideas

  • Children could have a go at making donuts like Papa. The recipe is in the back of the book! (Technology/ Social Sciences)