Story: Māori fiction – ngā tuhinga paki

Page 4. A new breed of writers

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The post-baby-boomer Māori writers of fiction in the 2000s expanded on the range of subjects and styles set by their predecessors. Some moved beyond the shores of New Zealand and set their work in other parts of the world.

Inspiration

James George began writing seriously in 1995 after ‘an epiphany, when my mother's death came as a reminder of my own mortality and served to get me thinking of things I'd wanted to do but had never had the time (or guts) to try.’ He attended a writing workshop with author Judith White, which he found ‘set my imagination afire’ and propelled him along a literary path.1

James George

James George’s first novel, Wooden horses, was published in 2000. It was quickly followed by the critically acclaimed Hummingbird, a finalist in the 2004 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and Ocean roads (2006). In 2013 George (of Ngāpuhi) was a committee member of Te Ha, which was established in 1991 under the umbrella of Toi Māori Aotearoa (a charitable arts trust) to promote and support writing by Māori.

Paula Morris

Paula Morris (Ngātiwai) had a successful academic background and worked in the music and marketing industries overseas. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University of Wellington and in 2003 was appointed writer-in-residence at the prestigious University of Iowa Writing Program. Morris – in one literary generation – proved the point that access to education opens up opportunity for creative work by Māori writers and artists.

Her novels and short stories – Queen of beauty (2002), Forbidden cities (2008) and the award-winning Rangatira (2011) – have been fêted from the outset. Morris also edited the Penguin book of contemporary New Zealand short stories (2009). An internationalist and expatriate, she lived in England in 2013. Her work reflects the increasingly urbane and mobile experience of many Māori who settle overseas.

Kelly Ana Morey

Kelly Ana Morey (Ngāti Kurī, Te Rarawa, Te Aupouri) originally worked as an art historian. Her first novel Bloom appeared in 2003, after a retreat to Northland, where she had spent time as a child. Grace is gone followed in 2004. Quinine (2010) draws on Morey’s experiences as a child growing up in Papua New Guinea and her background in the art world. It transplants an account of colonial tensions and the artist’s life from a New Zealand setting to a related location.

Tina Makereti

Tina Makereti (Tūwharetoa, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto) has published short stories in literary journals, magazines and anthologies. Her collection of stories, Once upon a time in Aotearoa (2010), in which mythological beings and happenings are woven into stories of everyday life, won the inaugural fiction prize at the Ngā Kupu Ora Book Awards in 2011.

Alice Tawhai

Alice Tawhai (Tainui, Ngāpuhi) was inspired to write fiction after reading Keri Hulme’s the bone people. Her three short-story collections, culminating in Dark jelly (2011), explore a variety of marginal worlds much like those of Hulme’s outsiders, where the underbelly of contemporary New Zealand is explored. A far cry from her literary forebears Katherine Mansfield and J. C. Sturm, she nevertheless employs the same modes and genre, realist fiction and the slice-of-life short story, to present a wide variety of characters in local 21st-century subcultures.

Huia Publishers

Huia Publishers was established in 1991 to promote Māori writers and writing in te reo Māori. In partnership with the Māori Literature Trust, an award for Māori writers (now called the Pikihuia Awards) was established in 1995. Huia has published anthologies of short stories from the best of the Pikihuia entrants.

Huia also publishes and promotes Pacific writers and supports the Te Papa Tupu mentoring programme, established by the Māori Literature Trust to foster new writing by emerging Māori writers.

Fiction in te reo Māori

Most fiction published by Māori writers is in English, but some of the Pikihuia Awards categories encourage fictional writing in te reo Māori. There is an award for the best short story written in Māori and a similar award for secondary-school students.

Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira’s Māori-language novel Ngā waituhi o Rēhua (2012), a science-fiction tale of four teenagers living on another planet, won the 2013 NZ Post Māori-language book award.

Fiction by Witi Ihimaera and Patricia Grace has been translated and published in te reo Māori.

Ngā Kupu Ora Books Awards

In 2009 Massey University established the Ngā Kupu Ora Book Awards to mark Māori Language Week. A fiction category was added in 2011.

Footnotes:
  1. ‘James George.’ http://www.huia.co.nz/?pg=107&authorid=44 (last accessed 27 August 2013). Back
How to cite this page:

Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, 'Māori fiction – ngā tuhinga paki - A new breed of writers', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/maori-fiction-nga-tuhinga-paki/page-4 (accessed 15 October 2019)

Story by Jeffrey Paparoa Holman, published 22 Oct 2014