Writer sets eyes on Pikihuia award
Being shortlisted for a Maori writing award has been a huge encouragement, a Porirua writer says.
Cannons Creek writer and artist Olivia Giles’ short story Stepping Outside the Boxing has been chosen for inclusion in Huia Short Stories 9, an annual collection of short stories by authors shortlisted for the Pikihuia Awards for Maori writers.
The book will be launched at Te Papa on August 27, when the winner of the award will be announced.
‘‘When I found out that I was shortlisted I was absolutely gobsmacked, because I know a lot of people that have been shortlisted and they are all established authors,’’ Ms Giles says.
‘‘It’s a big deal, once you have an award behind you it gives you a benchmark that people can look at and say ‘ well, she must be pretty good because she’s won this’.’’
Ms Giles has been writing creatively since she was about nine years old.
‘‘It’s my way of dealing with the world and filtering what’s going on around me.’’
In 2010 she took her passion one step further and completed a diploma in creative writing course at Whitireia Polytechnic, and since then has spent as much time in her writing studio as she can.
‘‘I write all day and into the night. I want to be a writer and make my living as a writer.
‘‘I’ve never been happier than I am now; when your job’s your passion it’s not work.’’
During the last few years she has had a number of short stories published in magazines, and a children’s picture book, My Two Homes was published by Learning Media in 2006. She is currently working on two novels, one nearing its final stages.
‘‘The secret if you are going to write something big like a novel and not get writer’s block is to write short stories to start on the novel.’’
Being recognised as a Maori author is a significant aspect of the award, she says.
‘‘I’ve got a Maori aesthetic in the way that I write. It’s everything, it’s who I am. It’s who I am physically and spiritually, because I live my life through the people who I came from and I come from this amazing whakapapa of writers and artists and spiritual people and singers and doctors, and I have everything they’ve got and it’s up to me where I go with that.
‘‘And I’ve got Scottish there too, that’s amazing, but I think a lot of being a Maori is knowing where you come from.’’
Ms Giles says encouraging Maori writing contributes to wider New Zealand culture.
‘‘Being Kiwi’s not English or Scottish, we aren’t anything else, we’re Kiwi, and that comes from living in this place and absorbing certain aspects of our indigenous culture, and that’s created a whole separate culture.’’
Page proof: Cannons Creek author Olivia Giles says being included in a collection of Maori writers’ short stories is proof she’s on the right track.