Awa Wahine is the ropū I wish was around when I was younger, but am so grateful is here now. This collective envisions a world where "wāhine Māori have the tools and confidence to express themselves through writing and creativity. Our mission is to educate, uplift and create publishing opportunities for wāhine Māori creatives."
Awa Wahine Magazine ‘Kotahi’ is the first of a semi-annual printed magazine by the digital blog Awawahine.com.
This is a self-published collection of writing, edited by wāhine Māori with contributions predominantly by wāhine Māori writers on kaupapa that are important to them. Articles include topics ranging from women’s reproductive rights, taonga pūoro, performance art, creative practice and returning to the marae.
There is such an array and diversity of life experiences within the contributors, all of whom convey passion, strength, and wisdom that readers of all ages can draw upon.
This collection allows readers the chance to learn from and immerse themselves in the stories of wāhine Māori. Tayla Farquhar's 'Kāinga' about living in Spain during Covid-19 and the power of karakia was a powerful read as New Zealand changed they way it deals with the pandemic and the impact it has on our vulnerable. Arpége Taratoa's 'Power of a Name' and Moana Murray's 'What Drives Me is Standing Up to Global Injustice' had me reflecting on my own experiences and beliefs. Ruby Solly's 'Te Haereka ki Tōku Turakawaewae: Returning Home' made me determined to ensure my children experience the warmth and homecoming of their own marae and whenua (and how good to see Kāi Tahu mita (dialect) on the printed page!). Every contributor so generously pours themselves into the pages, offering readers a precious piece of themselves.
Edited by Ataria Sharman, Kotahi was, as she says in her introduction, produced on a small budget. But as the well-known whakatauki wisely tells us; ahakoa he iti, he pounamu. While it may have a small budget and be just one collection, it is an absolute gem. I hope there are more editions as Awa Wahine is creating a special space that will educate, uplift and inspire a whole new generation of wāhine Māori writers and creatives.
Reviewed by Rebekah Lyell
Awa Wahine, RRP $24.99