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Many cultures converge and challenge each other in the poetry of Hinemoana Baker-most obviously, her parents’ Maori and Pakeha 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 matuhi | needle, her debut collection, there are poems of praise, love and gratitude. Words, phrases and cultural concepts in the Maori 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.
Nau mai, haere mai-welcome.
Hinemoana Baker was born in 1968. Like many New Zealanders with Maori ancestry, she learned the Maori 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.
Hinemoana Baker 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 Paekakariki, on Wellington’s Kapiti Coast.
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