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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

ināianei / now by Vaughan Rapatahana

ināianei / now is Vaughan Rapatahana’s (Te Ātiawa) eighth collection of poetry. The prolific New Zealand poet, who also writes prose fiction, educational material, academic articles, philosophy and language critiques, Rapatahana is widely published across several genre in both his main languages, te reo Māori and English.

He had made it his mission to continue to be published in te reo Māori and to push for a far wider recognition of the need to write and publish in the language.

inaianei / now successfully advances his cause (so much so that one of his offerings 'kōrero tonu i te reo' might just be our new whānau motto). Much of this new collection is written in te reo Māori and translated by Rapatahana, in his own words, into English. This technique means there's no interpretative issues that often arise when stories are translated - Rapatahana clearly articulates, in both languages, exactly what he wants to say.

This collection is both challenging and thought-provoking. Rapatahana does not shy away from expressing his feelings, making this book one that can barely contain the emotion held within.

He is not afraid of challenging readers, expressing his anger and frustration about societal issues in full flight - from Covid to suicide rates among Māori men, to racism, climate change, and the history and tragedy of these lands. Rapatahana is direct, articulating his opposition to injustice in poems that will make you question your own actions. Poems that are obviously deeply personal to Rapatahana sing with sadness, but are still tinged with hope. ‘Talking to my son in a funeral home’ will break your heart, while 'use the word' will spur you to action.

He also adds another layer to his poems, playing with font, size and space to tell a story through more than just words and letters.

Rapatahana brings together te reo Māori and English (with some Spanish too!) to create a rare treat. His words and imagery perfectly captures the rollercoaster of emotions these past few years have been.

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell

Cyberwit, RRP $25


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