Activity for ‘Sina and Tinilau’

Sina and Tinilau

by Vilsoni Hereniko

This picture book tells the legend of the beautiful princess Sina, who bathes each day in the ocean as she listens to the eel’s magical song. The eel falls in love with Sina, however when she does not return his affection, he disappears and sings for the princess no more. When Sina falls into deep despair, her fathers calls out to all her potential suitors to come and try to make her well again. However it is only the eel’s return, and his sweet song that can heal Sina’s pain. A well-told fairy tale, which has been beautifully illustrated by Jasper Schreurs in vivid watercolour. The illustrations also provide detailed descriptions of aspects of Pacific Island living, as well as local shells, fish, birdlife and flowers. This book was recommended for the collection because it is a well-told traditional tale with magnificent illustrations which show a great deal of detail and information, as well as incorporating the wider Pacific.


 (Social Sciences/ Science)

Curriculum Level

2 & 3 (see curriculum links at the end of the activity)

NZC Key Competencies

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


 The beautiful illustrations in this book also tell the reader a lot about nature and the Pacific environment. The illustrations could be used as a starting point for students’ own research into aspects of Pacific Island life.

1. After reading, look carefully at the illustrations, and spend some time discussing what they can see. It might be useful to have some very large, blown up images, so that students can see the detailed information on each page.

2. On the board, list the topics of information that are provided in the illustrations:

  • birds of paradise
  • shells
  • marine life of the pacific
  • fish
  • flowers and insect life
  • buildings
  • animals
  • clothing for war
  • items for daily use
  • canoes

3. Allow students time to decide which topic they would like to research, and organise into small groups accordingly.

4. In their groups, give students a large copy of the page they will need as a starting point for their research. Using this as a guide, they need to plan:

  • What is our broad topic?
  • What do we want to find out?
  • How will we use the guide page to help us?
  • Where will we look to find out our information?
  • How will we organise and present our findings back to the class?

5. When they have planned their research project, decide as a class on a time-frame for completion. They will need access to the internet and library.

They may decide to present their findings as an oral report, a slideshow, a poster or book.


  • large, colour copied images of the illustrations taken from the book
  • internet
  • library access
  • large paper for posters
  • computer use for creating slideshows

Curriculum Links

 Social Sciences

  • understand how cultural practices reflect and express people’s customs, traditions and values (Level 2)
  • understand how places influence people and people influence places (Level 2)
  • understand how people view and use places differently (Level 3)
  • understand how people make decisions about access to and use of resources (Level 3)


Living World

  • recognise that living things are suited to their particular habitat (Level 2)
  • recognise that there are lots of different living things in the world and that they can be grouped in different ways (Level 2)
  • recognise that there are life processes common to all living things and that these occur in different ways (Level 3)
  • begin to group plants, animals, and other living things into science-based classifications (Level 3)

Planet Earth and Beyond

  • explore and describe natural features and resources (Level 2)
  • appreciate that water, air, rocks and soil, and life forms make up our planet and recognise that these are also Earth’s resources (Level 3)

Other Ideas

  • Use the beautiful watercolour ocean scenes from the book to create their own ocean art work (Visual Art)
  • Choose a part of the story to illustrate – use paint, crayon and dye, pastel or print (Visual Art)
  • Work in groups to create a re-enactment of the story (Drama)