Author Spotlight Q&A: Brianne Te Paa

Brianne Te Paa is a Deputy Principal at Kaipara College. She has a Bachelor of Education and a Diploma in Te Pinakitanga ki Te Reo Kairangi. She is connected to the people of Ngāti Kahu, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Whātua, Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki and Te Whānau-a-Apanui. Brianne is passionate about learning and working with young people, and she has always enjoyed writing poetry and short stories. Her childrens’ pukapuka Kua Whetūrangitia a Koro, published by HUIA, won the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award at the 2023 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.


Kia ora Brianne! Congratulations on Kua Whetūrangitia a Koro winning a category at the 2023 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults! Sometimes writers talk about their book as if it is something they’ve birthed – a struggle as well as a gift. If you were to think of your book this way, who are its whanaunga? Who helped you bring this book into the world?

Kia ora! Thank you for your kind words. That’s such an interesting way to think of the creation of this mahi. Rangi Matamua holds a special place as the book’s tipuna – an ancestor of inspiration! His mātauranga about Matariki inspired this story. My two kuia, Rachael and Teao inspired the love between the Koro and the boy, so they remain as cherished kuia to the books. My whānau, friends and kaiako reo Māori are the books’ supportive parents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins who are unconditional with their love and support.


What do you think your tīpuna would think of your book? What would their reactions be?

I would hope they would think it was neat! I would also hope they would be proud. I would be so curious to know whether the practices described in this story aligned with their own.


What was it like to hold your book in your hands for the first time?

The first copy I held didn’t even belong to me. It was my best friend’s copy. She called me as soon as she received it and we met up straight away at a bar to commemorate the occasion. It was strange to hold it for the first time! It was a fantasy come to fruition.


What are your dreams for this book?

I hope it plays a role in the resurgence of Matariki customs, and I hope it becomes a source of solace and comfort for whānau in their times of grief.


What does it mean to you to have your pukapuka acknowledged by the New Zealand Book Awards, as a finalist?

It is incredibly humbling and overwhelming to have both ‘How My Koro Became A Star’ and ‘Kua Whetūrangitia A Koro’ nominated in different categories of the NZCYA Book Awards for 2023. Now that I am over the disbelief and feelings of imposterism, I can honestly say I’m sincerely grateful for the acknowledgment.

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