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Interview: Jessica Hinerangi talks about Āria

Jessica Hinerangi connects to Te Ao Marama through her toi practice, and is motivated by aroha and reconnecting with her whakapapa. Jessica sees herself as a multi-media cyclical artist, and a bit of a haututu. She moves through various mediums such as poetry, fiction, digital illustration, and whenua pigment painting, often under the name Māori Mermaid. She aspires to be generous in her mahi and contribute to her community throughout her life. Jessica aims to pull people in with her work and awhi others into their own creativity Jessica talks to NZ Booklovers.

Tell us a little about Āria.

Āria is my first ever published pukapuka. It is a collection of poems cut into three sections titled Pōtangotango, Ahi Kā and Manwanui. It is a young pukapuka, emotional, melodramatic here and there, but honest. It was written with the intention of being an awhi to other reconnecting Māori.

What inspired you to write this collection of poetry?

I was inspired by the prompt ‘what pukapuka would you have wanted to read when you were younger- now write it!’ as well as the period of my late teens moving into my early twenties. And, of course, I was inspired by the strength and layers of my whakapapa.

What was your routine or process when writing this book?

All over the place. I try so hard to have routine but I always seem to lose it. I’m an organized mess kind of person. When I gathered these poems together they came from my notes app, torn up papers from my bag and old notebooks which I had to try piece together like a jigsaw, and documents on my laptop hidden in folders within folders of old writing… My process is just writing anywhere and everywhere, on anything. When I’m writing I do usually have music specific to my mood playing, or I’m somewhere outside where the wind isn’t too wild and I can listen to the manu. I write in fragments, spit feelings out with no restriction. I try not to listen to the editor in my head until later, after a poem has been spilled.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include.

Can I choose three lol?

Wash over me - Teeks

I’m a Taniwha – JGeek and the Geeks

Violets for Roses- Lana Del Rey

What did you enjoy the most about writing Aria?

That early, unedited time when my poems were just popping out of my pen like angsty bubbles and there was no expectation for where they would go. I guess I mostly enjoyed the part when I didn’t even know I was writing Āria.

If you had to choose a favourite poem, what would it be, and why is it your favourite?

I have a few favourites, and they will probably change over time, but right I would choose Slumber Party because it holds precious memories and good times in it.

What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

I got a big bottle of bubbly and went camping and swimming with my friends.

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

I loved Tauhou by Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall. It was written with such care and heart, I felt like I was swimming through the pages.

What’s next on the agenda for you?

Next I want to write a bigger, stronger pukapuka and show some growth!

Auckland University Press


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