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Hiwa: Contemporary Māori Short Stories

Throughout Māori history, the one constant has been the expert ability to tell stories. From mythology through to the consistent battles of colonisation, the ability to metaphorically present information and create narratives has been central to te ao Māori.

Now, the new generation of Māori writers have the opportunity to present themselves to a world hungry for indigenous voices and perspectives that have been out of the limelight for some time in society. Woven narratives construct a viewpoint of the world that will have a tangible impact on the world around us if we allow them to.

Taken at face value, the stories give insight, strength and provocation for the reader, a chance to explore something a little divergent from the mainstream English-driven narrative. Morris, a lecturer at Auckland University, is an expert at bringing together collections that sing with a range of experienced and emerging voices in the writing landscape.

Becky Manawatu’s entry Silly Buggers is superb. Full of the quality structuring, and incredible use of language and imagery that typifies her writing. It’s writing like this that makes the short story format feel alive and well. It’s such an undervalued part of New Zealand’s writing landscape and one in which we are world-leading. Any anthology of great short stories from international writers is bound to include one of our alumni - Mansfield, if no one else! We are consistently among the great short story writers of the world, and Māori voices are alive and proud in this space.

The growth of the genre in the emerging space has been a cornerstone of the Aotearoa New Zealand landscape, and one that people like Morris, and Ihimaera, and Grace, and those other kaumatua of the industry have nurtured into greatness.

If there is one thing that every reader needs to know, it is that Aotearoa New Zealand short stories are at the top of their game, and have been for some time. Forget the international success of our sports teams; invest some time in reading our greatest export - Māori short stories.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Auckland University Press


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