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From Te Papa Tupu to NZ Post Awards

9 June 2014

From Te Papa Tupu to NZ Post Awards

The Te Papa Tupu Writing Programme for 2014 opens on Monday 9 June with a call for applications from Māori writers to join the six-month writing incubator programme. Writers can go on to have their books published and become finalists in New Zealand top book awards.

One such finalist is writer Whiti Hereaka (pictured). In October 2012, Whiti was one of the six successful Ä konga (or students) participating in the Programme, starting the first draft of her yet-to-be-named second novel.

She was playing with the idea of 'Tar baby' and developing the characters Bugs, Stone Cold and Jez and thinking how their attitudes to money, education, sex, love, friendship and family might change during the course of her story. "I’m hoping that this will make them rounded, complex people, rather than a collection of information on a page" she noted at the time.

Fast forward to June 2014 and her second novel titled 'Bugs ' has been published and is now a finalist in the 2014 NZ Post Children's and Young Adult's Book Awards with the winners to be announced on Monday 23rd June.

Whiti is one of several successful graduates from the Te Papa Tupu programme to go on and have their books published (others include Jacquie McRae with 'The Scent of Apples' and Mark Sweet with 'Zhu Mao') and shows the benefit that the Te Papa Tupu Writing Programme can have on the quality of a writer's work.

The Programme was established by the Māori Literature Trust in 2000 to broaden the range of Māori perspectives in New Zealand literature. It does this by identifying and developing Māori writers working in both English and Māori languages, and is designed to provide six writers the opportunity to develop their writing skills with the possibility of having their work published. The writers work closely with mentors who provide guidance and advice and the writers receive an allowance so they are able to devote 25 - 35 hours per week to their work for the six month period.

You never know where a story may lead, as Whiti noted back in 2012, "I’m looking forward to starting my second novel — I wasn’t sure that I had another novel in me but the idea of Tar Baby and its protagonist Bugs insist on having their story told. I’m sure six months will fly by and I hope that at the end of it I will have a good first draft completed."

Monday 23rd June 2014 may provide a fitting conclusion.

More information about the Te Papa Tupu programme and the Māori Literature Trust is available from the Māori Literature Trust website -


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