mätuhi | needle by Hinemoana Baker
1 November 2004
mätuhi | needle by Hinemoana Baker is a New Zealand poetry collection with difference:
* It is published jointly with Perceval Press, the California publisher owned and operated by Pilar Perez and Viggo Mortensen. In 2003, Hinemoana was one of three local poets to read alongside Viggo Mortensen at a fund-raiser benefit for the International Institute of Modern Letters, initiated by him to thank the city of Wellington at the time of the "Return of the King" premier. Viggo's interest in Hinemoana's work was sparked at this event. As her collection had already been accepted for publication by Victoria University Press, it was agreed the book would be a co-publication between the two publishing houses.
* It's a beautifully-designed hardback, featuring five paintings by Ngäi Tahu artist Jenny Rendall
* It includes a CD featuring Hinemoana reading six of her poems, and a song excerpted from her music CD 'Puäwai', (released simultaneously by Jayrem Records)
Many cultures converge and challenge each other in the poetry of Hinemoana Baker - most obviously, her parents' Mäori and Päkehä ancestries. The need to belong - to the extended and nuclear family - is at odds with the equally pressing need to be an individual in the world. In mätuhi | needle, her début collection, there are poems of praise, love and gratitude. Words, phrases and cultural concepts in the Mäori world are given a new and different life via her love and recovery of Te Reo - which can be translated as 'the voice'. Other poems are inscribed with the sordid and the badly-behaved, or admit to feelings of inadequacy and avoidance. Some reflect a history of personal and political invasion and occupation. All are alive with grace, intellect and control.
Hinemoana Baker was born in 1968. Like many New Zealanders with Mäori ancestry, she learned the Mäori language as an adult - in her case, at Victoria University of Wellington. In 1998 Hinemoana was awarded the university's Stout Research Centre / Reader's Digest Writing Fellowship, and in 2002 she returned to Victoria to complete a Masters degree in creative writing. She has published poetry and short fiction and has written for stage and film. An accomplished producer (most recently for Radio New Zealand's National Radio network) and a talented musician, Hinemoana's first album is to be released at the same time as this, her first book. She currently lives in Paekäkäriki, on Wellington's Kapiti Coast.
mätuhi | needle by Hinemoana Baker published 4 November 2004 $29.95 isbn 0 86473 483 2