Chris Gurney
Little Red and the Cunning Kuri

When Little Red has to get on her bike to take some bikkies to her Nana who is crook, the cunning kuri gets there first! But he's no match for team Little Red ...
A Kiwi retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.

The Story Behind the Book

The difficulty with writing Kiwi versions of traditional tales, is there is a distinct lack of large and suitably frightening native animals, which is lovely for us Aotearoa-ites in real life, but frustrating for me trying to come up with suitable replacements for the likes of the Big Bad Wolf.

Little Red and the Cunning Katipo was one version –
"But nana," she said, "you've too many eyes!"
"All the better to see you," katipo sighed.
:and NANA oh NANA!" Little Red sang,
"Where are your teeth?? Why have you got FANGS?"

Trouble was, pointed out the publisher, it was going to be awfully hard to enlarge and illustrate a small spider and make it big and scary without seeming totally ridiculous.

Swoop on in the Heinous Hawk –
"Nana you arms look like big feather dusters"
They look really queer and they make me feel flustered.
And NANA oh NANA!" Little Red gave a shriek.
"Where are your lips? Why've you got a sharp beak?"


Finally the Cunning Kuri got the AOK. Kuri were Polynesian dogs, which gradually died out in New Zealand. You can find out more information about them, below.

"NANA, your arms are so very hairy.
They look kind of weird and a little bit scary?!"
"Ah," said the kuri, "I see you're no mug,
But the softer the arms, the better the hug!"

So Little Red had to fight off a few other creatures before she finally got herself settled between the covers of her new book. Just shows how persistent redheads are!

Interesting Facts Behind the Story

The Kuri


Find out more about the Kuri, who were descended from the dogs brought to New Zealand from Polynesia, on the ancestral canoes of the Maori people in the 13th century (The Encyclopedia of NZ).

I saw a taxidermized Kuri at Te Papa museum in Wellington, which made me think of using it in the story of Little Red.

Here is an interesting little video about the Kuri, from Te Papa, where you will see that same Kuri. It explains how the Kuri was used to make special cloaks (Kahu Kuri) of great value.

Little Red and the Cunning Kuri - Page 2-3
Little Red and the Cunning Kuri - Page 4-5


This is my first Kiwi Corkers book; there is a whole series of them I have somehow managed to miss. Perhaps it is because I am based in Australia, I would like to think these books are in every bookshop in NZ where they should be. If you haven’t read them, you are missing out
. I have learned that the Kiwi’s sense of humour and slang is very similar to the dry Aussie one. Basically this just means Aussies will love them too. I do!... read more
Bug in a Book

Another book in the Kiwi Corker series - this time a retake on Little Red Riding Hood story. This bouncy red headed girl meets not a fox but a cunning kuri. But this dog gets more than he bargained for when he tries to trick Little Red.
Chris Gurney is an expert on writing these rhyming traditional stories with a kiwi twist. Sarah Anderson's illustrations are vibrant and stunning (and very red). Sarah has created the illustrations by combining digital painting and digital collage.... read more
Kids Books NZ


Colour in this picture of Little Red and write the story in your own words.

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Little Red and the Cunning Kuri
Little Red and the Cunning Kuri
Illustrated by Sarah Anderson
Publisher Scholastic New Zealand, 2010
ISBN Hardback 9781869439583
Age 3-7
Year Level Pre-School, Foundation, Year 1, Year 2
RRP Hardback $19.00
Available from your Library
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