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Ngā Ripo Wai, Swirling Waters: A Kerikeri Anthology

The northland region is a fruit basket, it is a stronghold of traditional values, it is beaches, it is sun, it is people. Driving up into the heart of Northland is akin to stepping into New Zealand as it once was, denying the hustle and bustle of Auckland, and embracing who we are, and what we stand for. It is only fitting, therefore, that the region be represented on the literary landscape with such a varied and interesting range of writing from that area. Poetry, flash fiction, letters and short narratives fill this book with the emotions and memories that are northland.

Part of the collection is an interview with the owner of the art house Kaan Zamaan, in it Julia Reinholdt talks about the belief that Northland was a ‘wasteland culturally’, but as soon as she opened the shop a whole range of artists came forward and the business became a thriving entity. There is a parallel with this book, it feels as if the floodgates on Northland’s literary prowess has been opened, and a pouring of heart and soul is the outcome.

Amongst the collection are some more well known names like Glenn Colquhoun, Fiona Kidman, Vivienne Plumb and Vaughan Rapatahana as well as lesser known writers and a smattering selection from Springbank school - which is a wonderful addition. The community of Northland have come together and produced something quite outstanding in creating Ngā Ripo Wai, Swirling Waters.

In the introduction the claim is made by the editors (Kathy Derrick, Jac Jenkins and Kipa Munro) that the north holds New Zealand’s longest continually occupied joint Māori - European settlement with 200 years on the clock. This book is a celebration of those 200 years, and is suggestive that there is much more to come. Certainly there are poets, writers and idea generators in the community that will come out of the woodwork with this opportunity, but also the continuation of fostering young people into the art. In this anthology the writing of those from the contributing schools is every bit as poignant and emotive as those from the more familiar writers.

As a point to note, Alistair Tulett’s piece Written is an evocative exploration of language summed up in the spelling of Kerikeri and while it speaks of colonisation, it is really about the importance of seeing and knowing within both ourselves, and our communities.

spelt however as it has been misspelt forever -

a name in a language without writing

unfairly cast into letters - forgotten songs -

fugitive birds - forsaken country (and not by any choice but)

however done it is wrong that it is the way of the world

that a place worth visiting must somehow be memorialised

on a white


(Written by Alastair Tulett)

Overall, this is a celebration of how Northland sees themselves, and how memories of Northland are ingrained in the soul, even from a fleeting visit. It brings back such fond experiences and clear connections between people.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Pavlova Press


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