NZSA Kaituhi Māori Mentorship Programme

Applications for this programme have now closed. 

The new Kaituhi Māori Mentor Programme gives emerging writers who whakapapa Māori the 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.  

We welcome kaituhi who write in te reo Māori and/or te reo Pākehā, in the genres of poetry, fiction (including plays), short fiction or non-fiction (excluding screenplays, picture books), on any topic(s). We welcome kaituhi of all ages – from rangatahi to kaumātua.   

Over a period of up to six months, this programme provides opportunities to discuss ideas and issues – practical and editorial – and benefit from the experience, mōhio and mana of experienced kaituhi Māori. It is designed to help aspiring kaituhi Māori develop further skills to sustain and strengthen them throughout their future career.  

Modelled on a tuakana-teina relationship, this kaupapa aims to offer a safe and supportive space for emerging kaituhi to develop their craft; gain encouragement and accountability, along with substantive feedback. 

As well as mentorship, part of this programme is to provide constructive suggestions for the refinement of a work in progress.   

This programme aims to support the amplification of Māori voices, Māori stories, and ultimately see greater publication and performance of these works.   

There are five (5) mentorships for kaituhi Māori available in 2024.

Hours of Engagement

Mentors give 25 hours for mentorships over a period of six months

Some of these hours are for the mentor to read and write critiques. The remaining hours are for communication with the mentee to kōrero and work through issues and ideas, provide practical and editorial advice, and share the benefit of their experience, mōhio and mana.  

Mentoring can take place either kanohi ki te kanohi, by telephone, zoom, email or a combination thereof.   

There is also the opportunity to meet as a rōpū, either online or kanohi ki te kanohi, with other mentees and mentors, to kōrero, ask pātai, remedy common issues in the writing process and gain from the richness of collective experience and expertise. It is also an opportunity for emerging writers to meet and connect with other emerging writers. At the commencement of each mentorship, once the all-important fit/chemistry/wairua of the mentee and mentor relationship has been confirmed, they will together make a plan setting out the best way to engage and communicate. 


Applications for this programme were open from 20 February – 20 March 2024.

Once applications close, they are sent to a selection panel who then decide on the recipients. Applicants will be notified within 4-6 weeks of the result.

The mentorship will commence on 20 May 2024 when the mentee-mentor match is confirmed and introductions are made. The mentorship then ends on/by 1 December 2024.


Our register of mentors consists of acclaimed Māori writers. We are also open to contacting kaituhi who are not on our current register to see if they are willing to be involved in this kaupapa.

Our mentors for 2024 are:

Cassie Hart

Rohe: New Plymouth 
Genre: Sci-fi, fantasy (including urban fantasy, paranormal romance, magical realism, etc), horror, anything that is a mash of these things, with or without romance elements. Any length, excluding short story collections and poetry. 

Cassie Hart is a multi-award-winning Māori (Kāi Tahu, Makaawhio) speculative fiction writer who enjoys delving into human nature in all its beauty and disarray.  

In 2022 her tradtional debut, Butcherbird, won Best Novel for the Sir Julius Vogel awards, and in other years she has been an SJV winner in a range of categories, as well as a Hugo and Australian Shadow Awards finalist.  

In 2018 she was selected as one of six emerging Māori writers to participate in the Te Papa Tupu incubator programme, where she worked on Butcherbird, a supernatural suspense set under the watchful gaze of Mount Taranaki. Butcherbird released from Huia in August 2021.  

As well as self-publishing a range of novellas and novels, Cassie has co-edited three short story anthologies, worked as a freelance editor for almost a decade, and is always looking for new ways to collaborate with others.  

Emma Hislop

Rohe: New Plymouth
Genre: Fiction  

Emma Hislop (Kāi Tahu) is a writer currently living in Ngāmotu with her partner, son and dog. Her first book of short fiction, Ruin, was published in March 2023 with Te Herenga Waka University Press. Writing and interviews can be found online and in magazines and journals including The Māori Literature Trust, The Listener, Metro, The Spinoff and The Pantograph Punch, Sport, Action Spectacle, Ora Nui and Takahē. She has a Masters in Creative Writing. In 2023 she was awarded the Michael King International Residency at Varuna House. She was the recipient of the Louis Johnson New Writers Bursary in 2021. Emma is part of Te Hā Taranaki, a collective for Māori writers, established in 2019. She is still very much a beginner reo speaker in wānaka, and tries to use basic reo at home with whānau. She freelances, convenes fiction workshops and reviews books on RNZ. She is working on a novel.  

Jacquie McRae 

Rohe: Wellsford  
Genre: Short stories, Fiction (adults and young adults) 

Jacquie McRae (Tainui) is included in several short story collections. Her first novel “The Scent of apples” won gold at the Ippy’s and her latest novel “The Liminal space” was a finalist 2021 NZ booklovers awards. She has been a Pikihuia finalist and was mentored on the first Te Papa Tupu programme. She mentors on this same program for the Māori Literature trust.  

Kiri Piahana-Wong

Rohe: Whanganui 
Genre: Poetry 

Kiri Piahana-Wong (Ngāti Ranginui, Chinese, English) is a poet, editor and publisher. She founded Anahera Press in 2011. Anahera’s most recent publication is Birdspeak by Arihia Latham; previous authors include Apirana Taylor, Serie Barford, Ben Brown and Leilani Tamu. As a poet, Kiri’s work has appeared in over forty journals and anthologies, including Puna Wai Kōrero, Landfall, Essential NZ Poems, Poetry NZ, Tātai Whetū: Seven Māori Women Poets in Translation, Dear Heart: 150 New Zealand Love Poems, Vā: Stories by Women of the Moana, and more. She has one full-length collection, Night Swimming, and a second, Tidelines, is forthcoming in 2024. In September 2023 Kiri’s newest project, a 2-book anthology series showcasing contemporary Māori writing (Te Awa o Kupu and Ngā Kupu Wero), co-edited with Vaughan Rapatahana and Witi Ihimaera, was released by Penguin Random House. Kiri is passionate about poetry, decolonising literature, indigenous voices and breaking down barriers for marginalised writers. She also loves nature writing, food memoirs and romance novels.  

Steph Matuku

Area: New Plymouth
Genre: Children’s / Young Adult

I am an award-winning writer from Taranaki with a particular interest in writing for children – picture books through to Young Adult. Two of my books were shortlisted for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, four have been listed as Storylines Notable Books, and one has been optioned for television by Whenua Films. My screen credits include Mystic, Shortland Street and Under the Vines.


This programme is open to all kaituhi who whakapapa Māori, ie not just those who are members of NZSA.

Successful applicants will not only secure a mentorship, but will also receive a year’s free membership to the NZSA. For existing members, their membership will be extended for an additional year gratis.  

To apply

Applications have now closed.

Desired outcomes

Desired outcomes from this mentoring programme are that kaituhi:

  • utilise skills and awareness to self-critique their work;
  • work through the various drafts on their own to produce publishable work;
  • have confidence in their ability and worth as kaituhi;
  • have learnt and gone some way towards honing the techniques of writing;
  • have a project that is approaching a publishable quality;
  • develop tools and techniques that will assist them throughout their writing career;
  • gain a better understanding of the publishing industry;
  • achieve stated goals more easily;
  • connect with cohort of kaituhi Māori mentees and mentors


The decision of the selection panel is final, and it is not able to provide feedback on individual applications not awarded a mentorship. If any applicant contacts a member of the selection panel with regard to this programme their application will not be admissible. We thank you for your understanding.  

Tips on the correct format for writing samples:  

  • Use a plain font. (Black, 12-point, Times New Roman, Ariel or similar are ideal.)   
  • Use standard A4 page size with wide margins on all sides  
  • Set alignment to left justified  
  • Use a single space after full stops  
  • Use double-spaced line spacing  
  • Format paragraphs according to genre standards. (Fiction authors usually use indented paragraphs. Nonfiction authors may opt for no indentation so long as paragraphs are separated by a full paragraph break.)  
  • Number your pages 

Ngā pātai?

If you’ve any queries re this programme, please don’t hesitate to contact the Kaiwhakahaere Hōtaka o Te Kāhui Māori, who would be glad to help.  

This NZSA Programme for kaituhi Māori is made possible with the support of Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Ngā mihi nunui ki a rātou.

Manatū Taonga | Ministry of Culture and Heritage