Activity for ‘Tane steals the show’

Tane steals the show

 by Lino Nelisi

Young Tane feels left out and unwanted when everyone else has something to practice for Uncle Kokela’s wedding on Saturday. He tries to join in with the big boys doing the meke, but they say he is too little. He tries to join in with the girls doing the hula, but they say he can’t because he is a boy. The men don’t want him drumming or playing the ukelele and the women don’t want him singing with them. Poor Tane watches them and learns anyway, and on Saturday he “steals the show” by getting up and performing with the boys, the girls, the men and the women at Uncle Kokela’s wedding. Everybody loves it and the illustrations show how proud Tane feels.

This story shows what it feels like to be small and overlooked – a theme which most children can relate to. It also provides insight into the roles and traditions in Pacific Island cultural celebrations.

This book was nominated because of its value as a Niuean resource, as well as the images presented in the illustrations. It was also nominated because of its popularity with children and its focus on Pacific Island music and dance. This book was shortlisted for Best Picture Book in the 1998 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards.


Curriculum Level 1 ,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


 In this story we read about some traditional Pacific island music and dance, and we see how it is used in celebration – at Uncle Kokela’s wedding. We also find out about traditional male / female roles in Pacific Island culture.  Children will be interested to find out more about these, and some children will bring prior knowledge about these cultural practices, particularly those of Pacific Island descent themselves.

1. After reading, look through the story again and identify the 4 types of music and dance and establish whether it is male or female:     

meke: a traditional Fijian dance – can be male or female, however men and women may not perform it together

hula (female):a dance form accompanied by chant or song. It was developed in the Hawaiian Islands by the Polynesians who originally settled there. The chant or song is called a mele. The hula dramatizes or comments on the mele

music made using drums and ukeleles (male)

singing (female)

  • At Level 2 and 3, discuss these traditional male / female roles and why they may be assigned as such.

2. Ask the children if they have ever seen or participated in music and dancing like the ones we see in the story. Discuss.

3. Search online to find examples of the meke and the hula. Here are some good links on YouTube:

The meke:

The hula:  (also talks about the history of the hula)

After watching each video clip, stop and discuss the music and movements that are seen. Write them up somewhere for everyone to see, so you are creating a kind of “definition” of each dance.

4. Play through each clip again and encourage children to have a go at copying the movements they see. Use different kinds of drums to try and imitate the beats and rhythms they can hear.

5. You may be able to invite a member of the community to come and play or dance for the students.


  • Internet access –
Taking it further
  • Find some traditional music and send children away in groups to put together their own dance, incorporating some of the moves they have seen on the video clips. Practice and perform to the class (Music/ Dance)
  • Children could make their own Pacific Island costumes to wear while performing. Use long strips of paper to make the grass skirts and girls could put flowers in their hair (Visual Art)
Curriculum Links The ArtsDance

  • demonstrate an awareness of dance in their lives and in their communities (Level 1)
  • improvise and explore movement ideas in response to a variety of stimuli (Level 1)
  • share dance movement through informal presentation and share their thoughts and feelings in response to their own and others’ dances (Level 1)
  • identify and describe dance in their lives and in their communities (Level 2)
  • use the elements of dance in purposeful ways to respond to a variety of stimuli (Level 2)
  • share dance movement through informal presentation and identify the use of the elements of dance (Level 2)
  • explore and describe dances from a variety of cultures (Level 3)
  • select and combine dance elements in response to a variety of stimuli (Level 3)
  • use the elements of dance to describe dance movements and respond to dances from a variety of cultures (Level 3)


  •    explore and share ideas about music from a range of sound environments and recognize that music serves a variety of purposes and functions in their lives and in their communities (Level 1 and 2)
  • share music making with others; respond to live and recorded music (Level 1 and 2)
  • identify and describe the characteristics of music associated with a range of sound environments, in relation to historical, social and cultural contexts (Level 3)
  • prepare and present brief performances of music, using performance skills and techniques; respond to and reflect on live and recorded music (Level 3)
Applications for Level 4 and above  At higher levels, the emphasis could be on defining the elements of Pacific Island music and dance, and using these elements as the basis for their own music and dance compositions, with increasing complexity.

Links to other books in the PPBC

Watercress Tuna and the children of Champion Street by Patricia GraceSelafina by Catherine Hannken

The Wooden Drum by Vivaliatama Elesoni Talagi

– these books all have a focus on Pacific Island music and dance.


Other Ideas

  • have a go at creating some tapa designs, like those seen in the book