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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Te Awa o Kupu Edited by Vaughan Rapatahana and Kiri Piahana-Wong

More than 80 contemporary Māori writers explore a vast array of issues that challenge, stimulate and intrigue in this collection of poetry and short stories.

With originality and insight, this collection covers a huge array of topics, including Māori myth, history, te Tiriti, colonisation, tikanga, the environment, wāhine, identity, relationships, the craft of writing and visions for the future.

Established literary greats such as Patricia Grace and Witi Ihimaera sit alongside rising stars such as Tayi Tibble and Ruby Solly.

It is very much a collection, with the majority of stories already published elsewhere. For those of us who read wide and deep, most of the work will not be new. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing, it's a bit like stumbling across a long lost friend. Whiti Hereaka's Papatūānuku is one such gem - I read it first in Pūrakau and was delighted to delve into the story again. The same too for Steph Matuku's Homesick. The original publications are broad though, so even the most veracious of readers will uncover a new gem or too among the already published. And of course there are 13 new stories, and two interviews, that make their debut in the collection. The interviews were a change of pace but offered inspiration and guidance to the next generation of writers.

Te Awa o Kupu is a companion volume to Ngā Kupu Wero, which is a collection of non-fiction writing by contemporary Māori writers. While they can be read independently, they also interweave with each other.

Editors Vaughan Rapatahana and Kiri Piahana-Wong talk about a river that has "flowed through Aotearoa for aeons". Te Awa o Kupu - the river of words - is a glimpse into that river. Sometimes serene, sometimes raging with emotion.

The pages within Te Awa o Kupu will both comfort and challenge readers as they dip their toes in the shallows or dive into the uncomfortable depths.

Reviewer: Rebekah Lyell



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