When Te Papa Tupu ended on Friday December 3rd at a hui held at the offices of Huia Publishers in Thorndon, it felt more like the closing of one process and the opening of another than an ending.
We were welcomed warmly into the Huia whānau, and Robyn Bargh explained their kaupapa of nurturing writers, which impressed me with her emphasis on writers and their work rather than the market place.
We were told what would happen next with our manuscripts: several readings; meetings; an offer to publish, or not; editorial meetings if accepted; further editing – about a six month process.
The day ended in a bar on the waterfront sharing a jug of lager with Larree and Jacquie. We met once before at the opening hui for Te Papa Tupu, exchanged a few emails over the months, and followed our respective entries on the monthly blog. Looking into the eyes behind the words, knowing there lay a person as mad as me, was a treat. I’m sure we do share a common madness: the madness of restless souls most soothed by playing with words and writing stories.
Later, I stopped on the City to Sea bridge to look at the new urban marae being built near Te Papa. I considered whether the sharp industrial roof design was a reflection from Futuna Chapel, or a statement for the emerging corporate Māori elite.
I was standing beside the brass plaque honouring Lauris Edmond.
It’s true you can’t live here by chance, you have to do and be, not simply watch or even describe. This is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb.
The Papa Tupu programme gave me the opportunity to live in ‘the world headquarters of the verb’ for a few months so I could concentrate on writing, and with Alia Bloom as my mentor my novel has been developed as near to completion as I can achieve.
In saying goodbye to Zhu Mao and Mr Lau and all the troop, I’d like to thank those involved in Te Papa Tupu programme for their deeply appreciated gifts of time and guidance.