Image: Pictured (left-right) Makoha Gardiner, Rangitihi Pene, and Robyn Rangihuia Bargh in front of Te Papaiouru Marae at Ohinemutu where the kupu festival will be inaugurated with a pohiri.
The Kupu Māori Writers’ Festival is set to launch in June this year with help from a $20,000 grant from Rotorua Trust.
Running from 12–18 June at a range of venues across Rotorua, including three local marae, Rotorua Library, McLeod’s Bookshop, and local schools, the festival aims to support and encourage Māori literature in Aotearoa.
The event gathers some of New Zealand’s best writers to Rotorua to share their experiences and achievements through interesting kōrero and wānanga.
Well-known writers Patricia Grace, Sir Tīmoti Kāretu, Dr Rangi Mātāmua and Dr Ngahuia Murphy will speak at the event.
Intentionally organised during the school term, the festival welcomes students with the goal of supporting upcoming writers and promoting the importance of reading and writing.
Festival Director Rangitihi Pene says the festival highlights, celebrates and honours Māori writers while supporting new and upcoming writers.
“We wanted to provide a platform to showcase their work, giving them the opportunity to pass down knowledge through wānanga.
“The event welcomes experienced Māori writers to share their experience and wisdom while new writers can learn practical skills and make professional connections.
“We will have school visits where the writers will speak to students in te reo Māori and English about how they got into writing and how they got their work published,” Pene says.
“We hope it will empower tamariki to meet the writers who reflect the values and stories they identify with most.”
Pene says the funding from Rotorua Trust will help with the set-up costs of the inaugural event, which he hopes will turn into an annual event.
Rotorua Trust Chairman Steward Edward says the event will involve many local businesses, marae, and kura, bringing education and employment opportunities, especially for Māori-led businesses.
“There are few literary festivals in New Zealand but they are often reported as lacking Māori participation. We believe this event will help bring people together, supporting both te reo Māori and the English language in Rotorua.”
The event is open to all and anyone unable to attend in person will be able to watch it through webcasts, podcasts, interviews, and other online features.