Taniwha paves way to Austria
Mungavin Ave to a castle in Austria — Olivia Giles is living the dream. The Porirua writer and artist has accepted an invitation to speak at the Goddess Conference at Loudon Castle in Vienna in May.
She will give a presentation on contemporary taniwha, which she has based around a short, illustrated book she wrote on the subject.
To say she gleefully accepted the all- expenses paid trip to Austria is an understatement.
‘‘Wow. It’s in a castle in Europe and I’m going to be talking about spirituality and taniwha,’’ she said.
‘‘ It’s going to be the most incredible experience.’’
Giles published her novel Heart of the Tapu Stone last year, via her family-run company, Dusky Productions.
The novel, the first in a trilogy, has been selling well and received a further endorsement recently — the University of Bonn in Germany wants it for its indigenous studies course.
As part of her upcoming trip, Giles will do a reading at the university and host a two- day workshop about contemporary Maori culture.
So why the interest in Maori from Germany?
‘‘I think it’s because Germans were once a tribal people, but they’ve lost that and yearn for those connections again.
‘‘In New Zealand, Maori still have those old connections that are so important.’’
It’s a busy time for Giles, with the second book of the trilogy nearing completion, a children’s book on the way, and another novel — set in Porirua — in the works.
She runs art sessions at home, is involved in community projects and somehow finds family time in amid it all.
Giles can write up to 14 hours a day and said she reads six books a week – everything from Raymond Chandler to contemporary New Zealand fiction – to give her inspiration.
‘‘I like designing and writing and it all seems to be happening right now.
‘‘I’ve got about 20 stories on the go and sometimes I feel I need to carry a bucket around with me to catch it all.
‘‘I was doing this when I was 3 and I’m so happy to say I can be doing it for a living now. This is my dream.’’
Going places: Olivia Giles’ book,
Heart of the Tapu Stones,
which has themes of whakapapa, redemption and love, will feature in an indigenous studies course at a German university.