Te Kawa a Māui - School of Māori Studies, 2017
Māori and Pasifika creativity is encouraged at Victoria in many disciplines, the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) is no exception.
The IIML houses Victoria’s creative writing programme, growing from a small creative writing course in 1975 to its current state, offering study options from undergraduate minors through to a PhD in Creative Writing today.
Graduates from the IIML have gone on to be respected authors, script writers, and poets.
Te Hiringa a Tuhi, the IIML’s Māori and Pasifika writing workshop, has been running as an undergraduate summer course since 2014. The course aims to equip its students with the tools to confidently produce new writing informed by Māori and Pasifika perspectives.
It tackles issues such as translating Māori and other indigenous concepts into an English medium, how to go about representing cultural characters, and how to discuss tricky concepts like colonisation.
The course seeks to accomplish this through open discussions and workshops. At the end, students will have produced a portfolio of new work. While it is aimed primarily at Māori and Pasifika perspectives, the concepts are able to be transferred to writing from other indigenous perspectives as well, and students are encouraged to bring such perspectives with them.
The course was set up by Tina Makereti and Hinemoana Baker. Tina is an award-winning novelist, essayist and short story writer, and Hinemoana is an established poet, songwriter and former writer in residence at the IIML.
In addition to this course, student work is celebrated through the online journal Turbine | Kapohau, which has been in existence since 2001. Turbine provides a platform for creative writing students to showcase their non-fiction, fiction and poetry work alongside established writers in the industry.
The journal features a wide range of voices and perspectives – Māori and Pasifika perspectives included.
Hinemoana Baker is an example of a writer whose work has been featured in the publication. Other writers include Anahera Gildea, an MA graduate from the IIML who has written works such as Poroporoaki, written in response to a Colin McCahon painting – Walk (Series C).
The course coordinators and previous students of CREW 256 also align themselves with external groups aimed at bringing Māori writers together.
A clear example of this is Te Hā, which is a Facebook group allowing Māori writers to connect with one another and create a base of support for those starting out.
Tina notes, "as Patricia Grace says, our literature will not be whole until it shows who all of us are, from all our different backgrounds".
Te Hiringa a Tuhi is a crucial part of encouraging and elevating diverse voices here at Victoria and in the literary world at large.