“I love Christchurch. It’s a city in transition, and this has been forced on it. But it demonstrates how diamonds are made, under pressure the best ideas, the best aspirations for greatness are revealed. Christchurch had its challenges growing up –diversity and understanding felt limited – but this has come a long way.”
How would you describe what you do?
I’m a journalist and a writer – essentially, a storyteller. I work on Sunday and Marae as a journalist. I’ve published a children’s book and have another in the works, along with a couple of books for older readers. I am a founding trustee of Kotahi Rau Pukapuka which is translating 100 books into te reo to create a canon of works for older readers and learners where, before, there’s only been a handful. We want to fill the bookshelves for everyone. I see an important part of my work as patron ‘Te Koruru’ of New Zealander of the Year as helping to tell these stories of our nation and the people who are doing amazing things to uplift others, so I have a few ideas in the works on that front too.
What was your most recent project?
Kotahi Rau Pukapuka which is an ongoing kaupapa, until we’ve hit the magic 100 mark. I’m extremely humbled and grateful for the people on this waka, who have brought everything to making the mission happen. Witi Ihimaera is our patron, our kaumatua is Haare Williams, our CEO is Pania Papa and our trustees are Corin merrick, Mike Dreaver, myself, Dr Karena Kelly and Jason Witehira. But our roopu is just the beginning, the whanau of translateors is huge and incredible, Maoridom is overflowing with talent and we’ve just scratched the surface, it’s so exciting to be among them all. W’re hoping our books will go far and wide and help build up teaching and learning resources. So far we’ve translated the first Harry Potter book, Sir Timoti Karetu’s book Matamus ko te Kupu, Dr Karena Kelly’s translation of Oh The Places You Will Go and Te ruanuku (The Alchemist) translated by Hemi Kelly. Another tranche of books comes out this year including a collection of Maya Angelou’s poems and X-Men vs Avengers. The kaupapa has been food for the soul.
What project have you worked on that you’re the most proud of?
The one above. Plus becoming patron of New Zealander of the Year and working on our, as yet to be announced, initiatives. We are developing an Alumni network which we hope will harness the skills and talent of our whanau to help build up the storytelling of Aotearoa’s incredible talent.
What is essential for creatives to have in their life?
An ally. Mine is my husband, we’re pretty much joined at the hip, always excitedly discussing how to advance each other’s aspirations.
What inspires you about Ōtautahi?
I love Christchurch. It’s a city in transition, and this has been forced on it. But it demonstrates how diamonds are made, under pressure the best ideas, the best aspirations for greatness are revealed. Christchurch had its challenges growing up –diversity and understanding felt limited – but this has come a long way. In terms of how it prepared me, I think my non-Auckland naivete helped when I was a young journalist. It never occurred to me that it might be difficult finding work because I had no concept of the competition, I just brought my Canterbury Can Do to finding work.
What piece of advice about your creative work has served you well?
The most notable creatives don’t wait for permission. They just ‘tell’ their story fearlessly.
What’s the biggest misconception about your creative work?
That it comes easily. Often what looks like a wee stroke of inspiration comes after years of thought, practice and hard work.
What Christchurch artists do you most admire?
Riki Manuel is a master carver in Christchurch who does wonderful work.
What artwork/piece of music/performance has taken your breath away?
Brett Graham, Tai Moana, Tai Tangata at the Govett Brewster
What do you wish you’d have known about creative work when you were younger?
I look at creativity as an evolving process so, no regrets.