What’s a good name for a novel?

The Northland Age - - Local Arts -

One-time Kerik­eri High School teacher Vaughan Ra­p­ata­hana has a new novel out — with the in­trigu­ing ti­tle of Novel.

It cov­ers a lot of ground, from a vi­o­lent mur­der in a New Zealand meat­works to the Philip­pines, Hong Kong and the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China, in many ways mir­ror­ing the pro­lific writer’s con­tri­bu­tion to publi­ca­tions in coun­tries around the globe, from the UK to France to Asia and the US.

He has con­trib­uted to dozens of lit­er­ary jour­nals in var­i­ous lan­guages, and pub­lished aca­demic texts and fic­tion. And now he’s en­ter­ing re­tire­ment and look­ing to write the fol­lowup to Novel. Money and time were fi­nite re­sources, he said, which was where his fam­ily had been help­ful.

His daugh­ter, Pauline Can­las Wu, a tat­too artist in Hong Kong, had il­lus­trated Novel, while his wife, Leti­cia Can­las, had helped out too.

It was 1977-79 when the then24-year-old taught in Kerik­eri, re­turn­ing to live at Pakaraka and then Awarua af­ter a stint in Nauru.

Dur­ing his North­land years, lit­er­a­ture was at a low ebb.

“If there was stuff go­ing on I wasn’t much aware of it. I was start­ing to write my­self. I got a cou­ple of sto­ries pub­lished in the PPTA Jour­nal,” he said.

“I re­mem­ber go­ing to see Sam Hunt and Gary McCormick up north about 1981. Sam Hunt def­i­nitely was an in­spi­ra­tion. We have since spo­rad­i­cally kept in touch, eh.”

Talk of the pop­u­lar poet gets Vaughan name-drop­ping con­tem­po­raries who have made a mark in New Zealand lit­er­a­ture, which is fair enough con­sid­er­ing he has shared schools, uni­ver­si­ties and work­places with David Eg­gle­ton, Roger Hor­rocks and James Nor­cliffe, and now sees a lot of fel­low Waikato poet Bob Orr.

By his own as­sess­ment it was only in the last 10 years that he re­ally hit his straps as a writer, how­ever. His books had “prob­a­bly not” made a lot of money, but he wasn’t in it for that. And he chose Ran­gitawa Pub­lish­ing for Novel be­cause it tied in with the marginalised per­spec­tive from which he writes.

Amongst other achieve­ments, Vaughan has won the Pro­verse Po­etry Prize, his po­etry col­lec­tion Atone­ment was nom­i­nated for a Na­tional Book Award in the Philip­pines, and his writ­ing has been pub­lished in French, Ta­ga­log and te reo Ma¯ori. His poem ‘Ran­giaowhia’ has been short­listed for the NZSA Canterbury Her­itage Book and Writ­ing Awards 2018.

■ Novel (rrp $38) is avail­able for pur­chase from www.Ran­gitawaPub­lish­ing. com or https://amzn.to/ 2Ex8KLt


Vaughan Ra­p­ata­hana is still putting pen to pa­per.

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