Helen Waaka (Ngāti Whaatua, Ngā Puhi) has joined us for the fifth residency of the year.
Helen completed a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Whitireia (Wellington) in 2011. The same year she won the Pikihuia award for best English-language short story with ‘Hineraumati’. Her stories have appeared in ‘Huia Short Stories’ 9,10 and 11 and the ‘Ngā Hau e Wha’ short story collections. Her own collection of interconnected short stories, ‘Waitapu’, published by Escalator Press and listed twice in the Booknotes Unbound list of Favourite Books 2015, went on to become a finalist in the Te Tuhinga Auaha section of the 2016 Ngā Kupu Ora Māori book awards.
Helen is a student of Te Reo Māori and has completed several courses through EIT (Hawkes Bay) and Te Wananga o Raukawa (Otaki) where she also gained a certificate in Poupou Karanga. She has a Bachelor of Nursing from EIT with a Post-Graduate Certificate in Women’s Health (Otago) and spent several years co-ordinating a rural women’s health clinic in Central Hawkes Bay. She continues to work as a nurse part-time while working on her second book, a novel and sequel to ‘Waitapu’. She is thrilled to have been awarded one of the Michael King Writer’s residencies and to be considered an Emerging Māori Writer at her age.
The shorter length and wider range of residencies this year especially appealed with her work and whānau commitments. Helen’s time at the Michael King Writer’s residency will be spent working on final drafts of her novel.