Friday, 8 July saw six aspiring Te Papa Tupu writers converge on the Brentwood Hotel in Wellington, ready to begin their six months of writing incubation. Each from a different part of New Zealand, with diverse work and life backgrounds, the writers were a bundle of nerves and excitement as they arrived for a one-day workshop, which introduced them to the programme, each other and their mentors.
Lauren Keenan, one of this year’s writers, was excited to begin, ‘I’m looking forward to meeting my mentor and being in an environment where we can spend an entire day talking about writing.’ And with guest speakers such as Whiti Hereaka, Tihema Baker, Haniko Te Kurapa and Reina Whaitiri there was no shortage of inspiring talk about the arts, writing and literature.
‘Be guided by your own desire to write,’ was a piece of advice from writer and mentor Renée. Whiti said she was looking forward to growing the canon of Māori literature with all the different genres of writing that the incubator might produce, and Tihema advised the writers to take advantage of the time and the relationships that Te Papa Tupu provides.
For six months, these relationships will be set in stone as the mentors and mentees set goals and deadlines, provide feedback and communicate weekly all for the end goal of producing a publishable manuscript.
‘Māori writers still have a lot of fascinating stories to tell. We are looking forward to receiving the writers’ completed manuscripts and reading their stories,’ said Eboni Waitere, Executive Director of Huia Publishers.
This year’s writers are:
Pere Durie, Papamoa (mentored by James George)
Lauren Keenan, Wellington (mentored by Renée)
Steph Matuku, New Plymouth (mentored by Whiti Hereaka)
Shirley Simmonds, Ōtaki (mentored by Tina Makereti)
Terri Te Tau, Ashhurst (mentored by Whiti Hereaka)
Tahlia Tini, Auckland (mentored by Paula Morris)
‘One of the reasons for starting Te Papa Tupu was to give Māori writers the resource of time and guidance so that they could progress their writing,’ Robyn Bargh, Chair of the Māori Literature Trust, explained to the mentees. Te Papa Tupu is a six-month writing incubator that pairs promising Māori writers with valuable mentors. It is a Māori Literature Trust initiative supported by Creative New Zealand, Te Puni Kōkiri and Huia Publishers.