Whiti Hereaka and NicLow have written two remarkable books that tell ancient Māori stories in fresh and compelling ways, with Hereaka flipping perspectives on a well-known tale, and Low using tramping and climbing adventures to bring the past to life.
Winner of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, Kurangaituku is the story of Hatupatu told from the perspective of the traditional ‘monster’, Kurangaituku, the bird woman. In this new version of the story, Kurangaituku takes us on the journey of her extraordinary life – from the birds who sang her into being, to the arrival of the Song Makers and the change they brought to her world, and her life with Hatupatu and her death. Through the eyes of Kurangaituku, we come to see how being with Hatupatu changed Kurangaituku, emotionally and in her thoughts and actions, and how devastating his betrayal of her was.
In Uprising: Walking the Southern Alps of New Zealand, NicLow crosses the Southern Alps more than a dozen times in a bid to understand how his forebears saw the land. Yes, this is a tramping story, but so much more: armed with Ngāi Tahu’s traditional oral maps and the iwi’s modern satellite atlas, Low invites us to travel one of the world’s most spectacular landscapes in the company of Māori explorers, raiding parties, and gods and, while doing so, come a little closer to understanding the true history of Aotearoa. When the British arrived, the Southern Alps were not an untouched ‘wilderness’ but rather home to a network of trails crisscrossing the mountains, dotted with settlements, stories and mahinga kai (places where food was tended and harvested).
Hereaka and Low will together explore how storytelling has been used in Māori history in the past and how – and why – is it being reinvented.
Chaired by Elizabeth Heritage.
Catch up on the kōrero via our Pukapuka Talks podcast here:
Whiti Hereaka (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa) is a playwright, novelist, screenwriter and a barrister and solicitor. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University and is a trustee of the Māori Literature Trust. Her first novel, The Graphologist’s Apprentice, which was shortlisted for Best First Book in the Commonwealth Writers Prize South East Asia and Pacific 2011. Her second novel, Bugs, won the Honour Award, Young Adult Fiction, New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, 2014, and the Storylines Notable Book Award, Senior Fiction, 2014. Her third novel, Legacy, won the award for Best Young Adult Fiction at the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Nic Low is a writer of Kāi Tahu and European descent who divides his time between Melbourne and Christchurch. His writing on wilderness, technology and race has been widely published and anthologised on both sides of the Tasman. His first book was Arms Race, a collection of speculative fictions shortlisted for the Readings and Steele Rudd prizes, and named a New Zealand Listener and Australian Book Review book of the year. He is the Programme Director of WORD Christchurch Festival of Books, Storytelling and Ideas; and judges literary prizes, most recently the 2020 Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and the 2020 Jan Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction in the New Zealand Book Awards.
Elizabeth Heritage (she/her) is a Pākehā book reviewer and publishing consultant. She identifies as bisexual and whaikaha (disabled). Elizabeth can be found online at http://elizabethheritage.nz/ and IRL in Te Whanganui-a-Tara.