Tani­wha paves way to Aus­tria

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

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.’’

Photo: KRIS DANDO

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.

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