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Everyone has different stories – Patricia Grace on ‘Maori’ writing

January 15, 2012

In an interview with Patricia Grace, Paloma Fresno Calleja asks “Do you feel that Maori writing has to be political?” (p113) to which, Grace replies:

“No, I don’t think it has to engage in political themes, and I don’t think it has to  define Maori culture either. But in another way it always will define Maori culture, because there is Bub’s way of being Maori, there is Alan Duff’s way of being Maori… There are so many different ways … and the more different ways that we ave in the pool of Maori writing the more close the definition of being Maori becomes. But, can there really be a definition? There are writers like Roma Potiki, for example, who was brought up by non-Maori parents … There are so many different experiences. There are people who have been traditionally brought up, whose first language is Maori, and people who have been deculturalised, and a wide range of people in-between. But I think that all of our writing is political. The first stories that I wrote for Waiariki were mostly set in rural areas. They were about old and young people going about their daily lives. People think of issues such as land, language and education and all those types of things, I never thought of these stories as being political until someone said to me that if you are in a position … I don’t like using the word ‘minority’ very much, but you know what I mean … You’re few in numbers, in your own country and through the political and the social events that have happened in that country the small group has become powerless, if you are writing about those people in their powerlessness, whether you do it deliberately or not, the writing is political.” (113)

Ref: Paloma Fresno Calleja (2003) ‘An Interview with Patricia Grace’ Atlantis 25(1)June: 109-20

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