Whiti Hereaka is an award-winning novelist and playwright of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa, Tainui and Pākehā descent, based in Wellington. She will use the fellowship to complete the research and development for a new novel.
Whiti says: ‘I’m not sure if there are enough exclamation marks in the world to express how thrilled I am to be awarded the 2021 NZSA Peter and Dianne Beatson Fellowship (although I’ll try to restrain myself to just one!)
I’d like to acknowledge the generosity of the Beatson’s in setting up the fellowship and thank Peter for his ongoing support of writers. When he rang me to congratulate me, Peter was warm and genuinely interested in my work and my career. It is lovely to know that my work is appreciated and supported, especially when I feel like I’ve been in the mid-career doldrums.
One of the strange conundrums of a career in writing is that as you progress it seems to get harder to find the time to concentrate on writing. The stipend attached to the fellowship gives me my writing time back. I’m excited to get stuck into my next novel, Ariā, over summer.
I also want to acknowledge the judges for their careful and thoughtful mahi. I mihi to the past and future Beatson fellows, and I hope that my mahi will contribute to our collective legacy. And finally, thank you to the NZSA — for all the work you do for and on behalf of NZ writers.’
The judging panel of James Norcliffe and Jillian Sullivan commented: ‘It was a privilege and a pleasure to be asked to choose the winner of the 2021 Beatson Fellowship from the twenty-one applicants. It was also a task freighted with difficulty because of the very high quality of the leading contenders.
The applications this year covered a wide range of genres: from novels, a verse novel, short stories, poetry, essays and non-fiction ranging from history to self-help books. The quality was so high in our final lists, and the breadth of projects which writers are working on was inspiring, that it is affirming of the creative life in our country.’
The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc) congratulates Whiti Hereaka along with the four outstanding applicants who were shortlisted:- Murray Edmond, Louise Wallace, Philippa Werry and Pat White.
This annual award is made possible with thanks to the generosity of the Beatson’s. In establishing this fellowship, they have given NZ authors a valuable opportunity to be economically secure while they bring a project to completion. It’s a commitment and affirmation for New Zealand writers. The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc) is most grateful.
In 2020 the fellowship was awarded to Siobhan Harvey who used the time to to support the writing of her poetry project – Ghosts (OUP) a volume of verse which was published to much acclaim earlier this year.
Previous recipients have included Frankie McMillan, Sue Wooton, Jillian Sullivan, Tina Makereti, Michael Harlow, Emma Neale, Mandy Hager, Carl Nixon, Glenn Colquhoun, Sue McCauley and Marilyn Duckworth.
The NZSA Peter & Dianne Beatson Fellowship is an annual award open to any NZSA members working on a new fiction, non-fiction, poetry or drama project. Find out more about the fellowship.
Photo credit: Tabitha Arthur