Writer sets eyes on Pik­i­huia award

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KARO­LINE TUCKEY

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.

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