fbpx Skip to content

Look out Ockhams, here comes the next kaituhi Māori!

The Māori Literature Trust | Te Waka Taki Kōrero announces the six newest kaituhi for its highly sought-after incubator programme, Te Papa Tupu.

Kei runga noa atu koutou ko:

Six manuscripts were chosen from over 50, in genres ranging from Māori Realism, to Solarpunk, to reo Māori Poetry and Contemporary Fantasy. This diversity and richness of Māori storytelling promises to build on and reshape the literary landscape as we know it.

For the next six months, each writer will work with a dedicated mentor to develop their chosen manuscripts. The writers will receive a stipend, attend workshops, and become members of a writing community. This opportunity only comes around every two years and includes flights, accommodation and tickets to attend some of the country’s prestigious writers’ festivals.

Jacquie McRae, who graduated from the very first Te Papa Tupu programme in 2010, is now a mentor herself. Together with Steph Matuku, who was a graduate of the 2016 cohort (and was just shortlisted for in the NZ Book Awards in two categories for The Eight Gifts of Wheke) were the judges of this year’s competition. It was an incredibly daunting task, due to the number and quality of works submitted this year.

“It was really difficult to choose,” said Jacquie. “There were some amazing, talented writers who unfortunately missed out. But that’s not because their writing wasn’t good enough, it was because there were so many excellent manuscripts in contention.”

Te Papa Tupu is a significant step on the Māori Literature Trust’s poutama, identifying new and emerging writers and supporting them through to publication and beyond. Many successful Māori writers have come through this programme, including Ockham award-winning Whiti Hereaka for her novel Kurangaituku, published by Huia Publishers. 


“At the time I did Te Papa Tupu, it was a huge boost for me as a writer,” says Whiti. “I thought, wow, my writing is good enough that someone will give me money for six months just to write.”


Whiti now inspires others to pursue their writing dreams, both as an author and as a long-standing mentor and judge for Te Papa Tupu. 

“One of the greatest gifts that Whiti gave me was a real belief in my story,” says Steph, who will be mentoring one of the new writers.

“Writing is so hard – it’s lonely. You can’t really discuss it with your friends and family because they don’t get it. So, I really wanted to help somebody feel that they have someone to turn to.”

This connection and support is part of what makes Te Papa Tupu unique. Writers have the opportunity to become a part of a much larger kaupapa, in which giving back to new writers coming through is as embedded invisibly in the programme as the awards and accolades are externally. This is unusual within the highly competitive literary world and illustrates the unique potential of kaupapa Māori-led initiatives to support the emergence of more Māori voices in the literary landscape of Aotearoa.

Shilo Kino, who published Pōrangi Boy after successfully completing Te Papa Tupu in 2018, credits the programme as giving her her first break as a writer.

“I owe it to Te Papa Tupu and the support of Huia Publishers to be where I am now. My first book won Young Adult Book of The Year – which I would never have been able to do without Te Papa Tupu.”

Like Steph, she talks about the whakawhanaungatanga writers will experience in Te Papa Tupu – resulting in friendships with other kaituhi Māori to last a lifetime.


“It was pretty life-changing because it was a chance to meet other Māori writers… throughout the whole process we were there for each other.”


Other successful kaituhi Māori who have come through Te Papa Tupu and gone on to publish books include Steph Matuku, Lauren Keenan, Ataria Sharman and Cassie Hart. Te Papa Tupu 2014 graduate, Shelly Burne-Field has also been shortlisted for this year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

“Who knows,” says Robyn Bargh, Chair of the Māori Literature Trust, “perhaps we’re looking at the next Ockham award winner.”


Keeping up with our Kaituhi

Click here to follow our kaituhi as they publish their Te Papa Tupu journey on our website. If you’re planning to submit to Te Papa Tupu in the future, we recommend reading and absorbing the tips and advice.


Help us take Māori voices to the world

This programme would not be possible without the generous support of our founding Partners – Creative New Zealand and Huia Publishers. If you wish to join us in taking Māori voices to the world, head to our website: Māori Literature Trust | Support (mlt.org.nz)