Māori literature deserves academic recognition

Dr Tina Makareti





Massey University’s new creative writing lecturer has an ambitious vision – to see Māori literature recognised as distinct field.

Award-winning author Dr Tina Makereti, who is Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngati Rangatahi, Moriori and Pākehā, says people are always surprised to hear that no one offers a single paper in Māori literature in English. “In fact there are less than a handful of academics working in the field in New Zealand. A lot of published research comes from overseas researchers, some of whom have never been to the country."

Dr Makereti says she’s excited by the opportunity to contribute new research into Indigenous creative writing along with teaching in the School of English and Media Studies. “There is a huge deficit in academic research in Māori and Pacific writing in particular. It’s no wonder young people aren’t drawn to study if they don’t see their own literature reflected.”  She says New Zealand literature courses touch on Indigenous writers but she’d like to see programmes that truly engage with matauranga Māori – Māori understanding and knowledge.

Dr Makereti has a host of awards to her name, including twice winning the Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Awards for fiction for her short story collection Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa (Huia 2011) and then her first novel Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings (Vintage 2014).

While her PhD in Creative Writing was completed at Victoria University, Dr Makereti completed a Post Graduate Diploma in Māori Studies at Massey University in 2007 and has taught at Massey in the past. She will be based on the Manawatū campus.

Dr Makereti is looking forward to getting students excited about writing and says she’ll be aiming to surprise them.“People have preconceived ideas about what creative writing is, so I’ll be looking for work that surprises and gets them to look again.”


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