Announcing the mentees and mentors for the first annual NZSA Kaituhi Māori Mentorship Programme

The NZ Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa Te Kaituhi Māori has announced the inaugural recipients of its The NZSA Kaituhi Māori Mentorship and Kupu Kaitiaki Programmes.

We are pleased to announce the five emerging writers who have each been selected for a six-month opportunity to work closely with an acclaimed Māori writer as their mentor to hone their tuhituhi ability and, in the process, evolve and refine a work toward a publishable state.

There were many stellar entries, with the winning submissions selected by Emma Hislop, Cassie Hart, Kiri Piahana-Wong.

Michelle Rahurahu (Ngāti Rahurahu, Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa, Te Arawa), NZSA’s Te Māngai Māori ki te Poari Representative, says “Seeing the interest and the calibre of talent coming through for this round of mentorships has been inspiring. There is a great wave of emerging Māori writers who are eager to hone their craft so it is crucial that the sector supports this growth. Te Kaituhi Māori are proud to join the sector as another part of the constellation.”

Image clockwise from top left: Jorja Heta, Miriama Gemmell, Aroha Te Whata, Te Ura I Te Āta, Jessica Hinerangi Thompson- Carr

Meet the Mentors and Mentees:

Emma Hislop’s first book of short fiction, Ruin, was longlisted for the 2024 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. She has a Masters in Creative Writing. In 2023 she was awarded the Michael King International Residency at Varuna House. Emma is part of Te Hā Taranaki, a collective for Māori writers, established in 2019.

Emma will be mentoring Jessica Hinerangi Thompson-Carr. Jessica (Ngāruahine, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāpuhi) is an Ōtepoti-based freelance illustrator and poet. She published her first poetry collection titled Āria in 2023.

Steph Matuku (Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāti Tama, Te Atiawa) is a freelance writer from Taranaki. She enjoys writing stories for young people, and her work has appeared on the page, stage and screen. Her first two novels, Flight of the Fantail and Whetū Toa and the Magician were Storylines Notable Books. Whetū Toa and the Magician was a finalist at the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. In 2021, she was awarded the established Māori writer residency at the Michael King Centre where she worked on a novel about post-apocalyptic climate change.

Steph will be mentoring Aroha Te Whata, who lives in Wellington where she works as a Report Writer. She studied English and Communications and finds inspiration for her fantasy writing during forest walks.

Kiri Piahana-Wong (Ngāti Ranginui) is a poet and editor, and she is the publisher at Anahera Press. Kiri’s poetry has appeared in over forty journals and anthologies, such as Puna Wai Kōrero, Landfall, Essential NZ Poems, Poetry NZ, Takahē, Ora Nui, Tātai Whetū: Seven Māori Women Poets in Translation, Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems, and Vā: Stories by Women of the Moana. She has published two full-length poetry collections, Night Swimming (2013) and Tidelines (2024), and is co-editor of the Māori literature anthology Te Awa o Kupu (Penguin NZ, 2023). Her current projects are a bilingual English-te reo Māori anthology of microfiction; and her third poetry collection. She lives in Whanganui with her family.

Kiri will be mentoring Jorja Heta. Ko Jorja Heta tōku ingoa. He uri au no Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri  I have always been drawn to storytelling, as a means of self-expression and an innate Māori way of understanding the world and our place in it.

Arihia Latham (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, Waitaha) Is a writer, creative, and rongoā practitioner. Her poetry collection Birdspeak  is from Anahera Press and her short stories, essays and poetry are published and anthologised widely. Her poetic short film for Mana Moana is launching at Matariki. She is a Māmā of three children and lives in Te Whanganui a Tara.

Arihia will be mentoring Miriama Gemmell: Mohaka Hararā Taupunga Opunga! Miriama Gemmell’s poetry has been published in Awa Wahine, Kapohau, Te Whē and Tarot. She lives in Te Matau-a-Māui with her hoa rangatira Richard and two tamariki, Hēmi Rewi (10) and Hana Tirohia (7).

The  2024 Kupu Kaitiaki Mentorship:
Vaughan Rapatahana (Te Ātiawa) commutes between homes in Hong Kong, Philippines, and Aotearoa NZ. He is widely published in both te reo Māori and English and his work has been translated into Bahasa Malaysia, Italian, French, Mandarin, Romanian, Spanish. He is the author and editor/co-editor of over 40 books. He has a Ph. D from the University of Auckland with a thesis about Colin Wilson. Rapatahana is a critic of the agencies of English language proliferation and the consequent decimation of indigenous tongues, inaugurating and co-editing Hydra and Why English? Confronting the Hydra (Multilingual Matters, Bristol, UK, 2012/2016). He has ten collections of poetry published in Hong Kong SAR; Macau; Philippines; USA; England; France, India, Australia, and Aotearoa NZ. In 2016 Atonement (UST Press, Manila, 2016) was nominated for the Philippines National Book Award, and he won the inaugural Proverse Poetry Prize.

Vaughan will be mentoring Te Ura I Te Āta: Ngā mihi māhana ki a koutou. He uri tēnei nō Ngāti Maniapoto – Waikato, Ngā Puhi, Māori Kuki Airāni, (Nukuroa, Tongareva) Ra’iātea, Kōtarana, Hāmoa. Ko Te ‘Ura I Te Āta tōku īngoa. I am a mother of a married daughter and I have four grandchildren.  I am a writer, educator, advisor, and community volunteer. I am a former policy analyst, public servant, educator of teacher trainees, and an advisor on bilingual/immersion education. My passion is te ao Māori and revitalising te reo Māori, within my whānau and iwi. I am  also passionate about the revitalisation of endangered indigenous languages. I started writing creative fiction as a teenager more as an outlet than anything else.  It soon became like water I could’nt live without it. I have had a poem published in the Capital Times (Aotearoa).   Alongside my unpublished writing I have written for diverse policy and community settings. I live in Porirua where Ngāti Toa Rangātira are māna whenua.  Other places I have lived and drawn breath from are: Parihaka, Te Whanganui – Ā – Tāra, Pukerua Bay, Whangānui, Cook Islands, Brunei, Singapore, and Australia.

The NZSA Kaituhi Māori Mentorship Programme was established in 2024 to foster and develop emerging writing talent around New Zealand with the support of established authors. The programme aims to support the amplification of Māori voices, Māori stories, and ultimately see greater publication and performance of these works.

NZSA Kupu Kaitiaki Programme aims to provide new and emerging kaituhi with valuable feedback from a skilled Kupu Kaitiaki, for the refinement of a part of a manuscript written in te reo Māori.

These two programmes are new editions to The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa’s successful mentoring programmes for writers and is made possible with the support from Manatū Taonga, the New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

NZSA’s mentorship and assessment programmes have been running for 30 years and are invaluable in nurturing emerging new writers and helping them craft their manuscripts.

More about The NZSA Kaituhi Māori Mentorship Programme
More about NZSA Kupu Kaitiaki Programme 

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