New Zealand’s next great Māori storytellers

02 Sep, 2016
New Zealand’s next great Māori storytellers
Kaa Wilkinson and Ivy-Meke Maiti

The fledgling authors of three short stories – featuring a trip to the moon, a dream come true and the confronting realities of life – took top honours at this year’s He Huatau Auaha Te Reo Māori Creative Writing Competition.

The winners were recognised at an awards ceremony at Ngā Wai o Horotiu Marae at AUT University.
He Huatau Auaha is the only creative writing competition for school children, aged six to 18 years, that calls for submissions in full te reo Māori.

Launched in 2012, by Te Ipukarea: National Māori Language Institute at AUT, the biannual competition aims to foster te reo Māori and the unique Māori perspective in New Zealand storytelling.

Event organiser, Hemi Kelly, is a lecturer on Te Reo Māori at Te Ara Poutama: Faculty of Māori & Indigenous Development at AUT.

“Māori have a strong oral tradition, but our ancestors took to the pen very quickly. And, Māori writers have made their mark here and internationally,” he says. 

“We want our tamariki and rangatahi to have the courage to be themselves; to draw from their experiences and tell their own stories in writing.”

Now in its third year, He Huatau Auaha attracted more than 90 submissions from 16 schools throughout the country, particularly those with strong Māori immersion and bilingual units.

“The competition provides a forum for young people who are skilled in te reo Māori to express their ideas and creativity in writing. We want them to have a sense of pride, knowing that the language is valued beyond their school environment,” says Kelly.

“We’d like to see more Te Kura Kaupapa and Whare Kura get involved.”

The transition from the spoken word to the written word involves new ways of thinking, providing opportunities for more careful organisation and complex structures.

The judging panel was impressed by the creativity and high standard of language displayed by this year’s finalists.

“Competitions like He Huatau Auaha grow future writers, creators and innovative thinkers for the Māori language. It helps build a rich, diverse and expansive literary source for generations to come,” says Kristin Ross, Director at Punarau Media.

Her Rotorua-based publishing firm recently produced Rere Te Whiu, an innovative web-series for Māori language learners.

Also on the judging panel was television and radio host, Stacey Morrison; a passionate advocate for te reo Māori. And, Vini Olsen-Reeder, Māori Studies lecturer at Victoria University; the man behind the rebirth of the Māori Language Society.

Research published by the Ministry of Education shows that learning to speak, read and write in Māori means students are more likely to succeed academically in both Māori and English. It also highlights that students who are biliterate often outperform students in English-medium schools.

He Huatau Auaha is proudly supported by Huia Publishers, Te Taura Whiri I Te Reo Māori: Māori Language Commission, Te Whanake: Māori Language Online and VO2 Group: Digital Thinking.

Primary category finalists | ages 6-10 years
The winner of the primary category is Kaa Wilkinson (Ngāti Porou).
The 10-year old from Auckland’s Newton Central Primary School submitted a short story entitled Tōku haerenga nui ki te marama – (My intrepid journey to the moon).
2ND       Te haerenga mōrearea itiiti – (My adventurous journey)
By Ivy-Meke Maiti, Te Arawa, age 10
From Westmere Primary School, Auckland

3RD        Te kaitiaki o Huia – (The guardian of Huia)
By Ātaahua Te Hei, Ngāti Raukawa, age 9
From Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rita in Otaki

Intermediate category finalists | ages 11-14 years
The winner of the intermediate category is Maarie Apanui-Barr (Ngāti Porou, Kai Tahu).
The 12-year old from Te Kura o Otari School in Wellington submitted a short story entitled Ka pono aku moemoeā – (My dreams come true).

2ND       Ehara tōku maunga i te maunga nekeneke, he maunga tū tonu
(My mountain does not move, it is fixed)

By Wātene Campbell, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Kahungunu, age 15
From Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngā Mokopuna in Wellington

3RD        Mākutu – (Magic)
By Suraya Goss, Te Ātihaunui-a-Pāpā, Ngāti Porou, age 15
From Manukura School in Palmerston North

Senior category finalists | ages 15-18 years
The winner of the senior category is Apapera Tapiata (Ngā Rauru).
The 15-year old student from Mana Tamariki in Palmerston North submitted a short story entitled Mākinakina – (Rough).
2ND       Mate atu he hoa – (When a friend passes away)
By Janine Taueki, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, age 17
From Mana Tamariki in Palmerston North

3RD        Te Aka Taiaha a Kura – (Kura’s taiaha)
By Maimoa Toataua-Wallace, Ngāti Maniapoto, age 17
From Taiātea Wharekura in Hamilton

Picture caption
Kaa Wilkinson and Ivy-Meke Maiti