Tā te Ao Māori, Feb 2012
Tā te Ao Māori: Writing the Maori World
The third Residential Workshop, held at Vaughan Park Retreat Centre, Long Bay, 17-19 February 2012, had as convenors Brad Haami and Paul Diamond. Both writers have strong connections to the Michael King Writers’ Centre and were involved with its residential workshops as attendees and speakers in 2009 - 2010. They planned an inspirational event to encourage experienced writers (Māori and Pakeha) with a specialised interest in writing the Māori world.
Sessions ranged from Māori literary tradition, translation, writing in te reo, the Māori world in fiction and film, looking beyond treaty and colonial encounter histories, approaches to biography and iwi histories to discussions about independent and international publishing. New ways of presenting the Māori world were covered in a session detailing the aims and coverage of Te Ara, the online encyclopedia.
The previous residential workshop, held in 2010, focused on Biography and Memoir, and the 2009 workshop on the broad fields of History and Biography. Both workshops had included sessions on Maori approaches to history and biography, but Tā te Ao Māori enabled broader and deeper discussion of these genres, along with some coverage of fiction, poetry and natural history, with an emphasis on te reo.
Over three days and two nights, participants discussed issues with speakers and publishers: writers gained much from the interaction and intensity of a long weekend retreat in the company of colleagues and respected professionals. The programme included time for attending writers to discuss their own work on the first night, more informally on the second night and during the longer breaks intended for this purpose.
Once again, the Vaughan Park Retreat Centre proved to be the ideal venue for the residential workshop. Set above Long Bay Regional Park, with its superb beach and clifftop walks, the atmosphere is relaxed and informal, with lounges, meeting rooms and the restaurant extending onto a large deck. A workshop highlight was Huia Publishers’ 21st birthday celebration, on Saturday evening at sunset.
Speakers and chairs included writers Witi Ihimaera, Merimeri Penfold, Anne Salmond, Monty Soutar, Aroha Harris, Jock Phillips, Basil Keane, Paul Moon, John Huria, Jane McRae, Darryn Joseph, Brad Haami, Paul Diamond and Peter Simpson and publishers Robyn Bargh, Geoff Walker, Sam Elworthy and Bob Ross. In tune with the collegial nature of the residential workshop, some speakers also acted as Chairs, and most speakers stayed on for a meal and attended another session or two.
Some writers noted that differing levels of knowledge of the Māori world amongst the attendees sometimes affected the progress of the evening open discussions. Others thought the breadth of knowledge and interests of attendees made the workshop more lively.
The most valuable aspects were deemed to be:
- Interaction with other writers
- Discusssion during breaks
- Limited size of the group
For information about the October 2012 Residential Workshop, please email : firstname.lastname@example.org
The workshop acknowledges the generous assistance of a grant from ASB Community Trust.
Paul Diamond, Robyn Bargh & Brad Haami
Discussion during Witi Ihimaera’s session