The Kapiti Coast based writer Tina Makereti has won the first fiction award in the Nga Kupa Ora Maori Book Awards.
Her story, Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa, is a book of traditional Maori myths and legends in a contemporary context.
Tina Makereti, 37, of Raumati South, says it was a challenge making sure the original essence of each story, wasn’t lost through modernising it.
Tina says she is thrilled to be recognised for her first book.
“I’m really excited because, in New Zealand, there are very limited ways for fiction to get recognised,” she says. “And you can’t underestimate the value an award can bring in the world of publishing.”
Ms Makereti says she had no pre-conceived idea as to who would enjoy reading the book, but thought it would appeal more to adults.
But, she says, the publishers have also aimed it at teenagers. And adds that the next challenge is finishing her first novel, which she’s been working on for two years.
Awards judge pleased
Awards judge and Massey University senior lecturer Spencer Lilley says it was particularly satisfying to have a Fiction category because, in previous years, there had been a shortage of Māori fiction published for sophisticated readers.
“Previously prolific authors like Patricia Grace have not published adult fiction in recent years,” says Lilley. “So it was especially pleasing to not only have a Fiction category for the first time, but to also find there were young, first-time writers producing work of a high quality.”