Verb Recap! With Rangimarie Sophie Jolley


Verb took the capital by storm in early November, the streets and social media alike were abuzz with literary goodness. This year we were spoiled for choice with Māori events, curated by Trinity Thompson Browne and Rangimarie Sophie Jolley on behalf of Te Hā o Ngā Pou Kaituhi Māori. Rangimarie gives us her highlights, the challenges and looks forward to a multifaceted future.


Congratulations on curating so many wonderful, meaningful events for Māori for this year’s Verb. What were the highlights for you?

The highlight for me was seeing a variety of Māori writers take the stage in different spaces, for different kaupapa. We’re a lot more diverse than we think we are, but the diversity of our forms, creative practices and self-expression is part of what makes the Māori writing community so awesome. When we see what everyone else is getting up to, how this person tells that story and that person tells theirs, we get to see how the art form itself can evolve. Writing can be such an insular process, but we’re also very much inspired by one another. And it’s nice to see that inspiration happen in real time.


What were the biggest challenges in creating events for Māori writers and readers?

The biggest challenge was accepting that we can only do what we can do. It’d be great to do everything for everyone but it doesn’t work that way – so it took a lot of work to make sure that we were just doing our best with what we could. It’s never easy to be the guy doing the things, because criticism is so much easier than action – but I did appreciate working in a partnership, it meant that every time we felt tension around what we did or didn’t do, we had someone to wānanga with. It’d be great to see what other opportunities arise for our community from here!


What are you hoping to see from Literature Festivals in 2023?

I want to see more variety, I want to see boundaries being pushed, I want scary conversations about story sovereignty and succession planning. I want rangatahi. I want intersections. I want big pictures and by Māori, for Māori moments. I want to see us collaborating with other art forms, bringing visual artists and musicians into our story telling activities. And I want to see more STORY telling, not just writing – we never lived on a page, so why limit ourselves to that? I want to see how our art form evolves, and I’m stoked by how it already is!

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