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assumptions about what should be the concerns of Maori literature

February 15, 2015

Talking about the way some of her Maori characters in Hibiscus Coast have been received (as being not really Maori), Paula Morris comments “The same was true of Queen of Beauty, where what I saw as certain Maori aspects of the book – not just characters, but the way it’s structured, looking backwards and forwards in time, and its obsession with telling and re-telling stories – was almost brushed aside, when I saw it as absolutely crucial. I wonder if there are certain assumptions about what should be the concerns of Maori literature, and its characters and settings. Narrow concerns, specific settings. Not Princes Wharf.” (p.183)

She also comments: “…there are other things to notice, I think, in addition to any given work’s Maori-ness, whatever that means. This is something I’ve written about before, in an essay for Landfall called ‘Tramps Like Us’ – the importance to me, personally and creatively, of multiplicity. My mother, for example, doesn’t see me as Maori at all. She sees me as English!” (p.184)

Ref:  ‘Paula Morris: Interviewed by Alice Te Punga Somerville’ in Words Chosen Carefully: New Zealand Writers in Discussion pp.176-196, Ed. Siobhan Harvey. Cape Catley Ltd: Auckland 2010

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