Writers in Residence 2015

Mere Whaanga

Mere Whaanga

Mere Whaanga is a writer, illustrator, historian and academic. She is of Ngāti Rongomaiwahine and Ngāti Kahungunu descent. Raised on an isolated sheep station near Gisborne, she was inspired by her father's dedication to the land and his love of Māori history and mythology.

She has written several bilingual books for children, including The Legend of the Seven Whales of Ngai Tahu Matawhaiti: Nga Tahora Tokowhitu a Ngai Tahu Matawhaiti (1990), Te Kooti's Diamond: Te Taimana a Te Kooti (Ashton Scholastic 1991) and The Treaty: Te Tiriti (Scholastic 2003).  Her literary awards include the Choysa Bursary for Children’s Writers (1998), Te Ha Award for Māori Writers (1991), Te Waka Toi New Work Grant (2002), the Māori History Fellowship 2001-2003, and the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award 2011 for Tangaroa's Gift: Te Koha a Tangaroa (originally published by Ashton Scholastic 1990).

She has written a wide range of non-fiction work on aspects of Māori history, Treaty of Waitangi claims and Māori cultural practices. She has a Doctorate from Waikato University on the effect of Māori land law on ahikāroa (long-term occupation).

She was awarded the eight-week Māori Writer’s Residency between May and July 2015 to work on an adult novel, Legacy of the Seer, which centres on Te Paea, eldest grandchild of a tohunga, and her matakite or psychic abilities. The story of rural Māori in the greater Wairoa area and the pain of cultural loss is tracked through the life journey of Te Paea and her daughter Mata.

She has also published as Mere Whaanga-Schollum.