Author Named For Kāpiti

NZ’s only Māori residential writing course welcomes 5th author to Island

By Alan Tristram

Maraea Rakuraku, a poet, playwright and broadcaster, has been chosen as the fifth Māori writer to live on Kāpiti Island as the annual

writer-in-residence.

Maraea (Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu)  will spend eight weeks writing on Kāpiti Island during September and October as Tau Mai e Kāpiti Writer in Residence.

It’s the only residency in the country created and run by Māori for Māori writers, and is funded by Te Waka Toi .

Maraea is well known as a co-producer/presenter of Te Ahi Kaa, Radio New Zealand National’s weekly kaupapa Māori programme.

Brings links with Te Urewera

She has written and recorded poetry and short stories, and her first play The Prospectopens in August this year in Wellington.

Maraea says among several projects she’ll work on is a film script she hopes to complete to first draft stage – an idea which was originally conceived on Kāpiti Island at a writers’ retreat in 2008.

‘For those of us who come from Te Urewera, isolation is something which defines us,’ says Maraea. ‘But this isolation is something which continues to be misinterpreted by society.’

Maraea says she is very much looking forward to regaining some of that isolation during her two-month stint on the island, where she will often be alone with the birds and other wildlife.

 ‘What a gift’

‘What a gift,’ she says, ‘to have undisturbed, free time to write. It will be like the years I spent living in the bush in the depths of Matahi valley, for months at a time with only my horse, kurī and occasional whānau for company.’

Maraea is the fifth Kāpiti writer in residence and will head to the island at the beginning of September to begin her stay. This year’s judging panel describe her as an exciting writer with an earthy, humorous ‘voice’ that nonetheless expresses serious concerns.

‘In my writing I aim to reflect the diversity of Te Ao Māori as I know it,’ says Maraea. ‘I want to see my experience of being Māori, rather than an apologetic expectation of what we should be.’

The Tau mai e Kāpiti Māori Writers’ Residency is funded by Te Waka Toi / Creative New Zealand and hosted by the Kaitiaki o Kāpiti Trust.

“Kāpiti has profound spiritual power which has inspired writers and artists for many years,” says the Trust’s Residency Manager, Minnie Clark.

“This is the only residency in the country created and run by Māori for Māori writers. We expect as with the last four years, this year’s writer in residence will respond well to the opportunity to spend eight weeks on this beautiful island.

Last year’s Kāpiti writer in residence, Anatonio Te Maioha, said he felt like ‘the luckiest person I know’ walking through the forests of Kāpiti Island, and says the residency was ‘a massive privilege.’