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My writing had become a Waitangi issue – Ihimaera

November 10, 2015

Again, in his interview with Selina Tusitala Marsh, Witi Ihimaera discusses the political context in which he wrote The Matriarch:

“…if I may keep pointing to the African connection, The Matriarch wouldn’t be the artifact it is had I not written it in conjunction with crucial political events occurring in New Zealand, namely the Springbok Tour. I was giving speeches in Wellington about apartheid and was banned from Parliament because of a particular protest I made there with writers James McNeish, Fiona Kidman and others. I intensely disliked the Muldoon Government and its repressive policies. Also, I’d only just returned from Australia where I had the good fortune to meet Cath Walker, Roberta Sykes and Mudrooroo. There, before bulldozers began leveling the ground for Australia’s national parliament in Canberra, I’d gone to the site with my Maori friend, Teremoana Pehimana, to sit with Aboriginal activists and mourn the desecration of that Aboriginal site. The point is that by the time I started to write The Matriarch I was in no mood for conciliation. My writing had become a Waitangi issue, and, in writing, I felt I had to find a different way of defining the democratic processes and their absolute failures.”

Ref: p.289 (emphases in blue bold mine) ‘Witi Ihimaera: Interviewed by Selina Tusitala Marsh, pp.284-305 in Words Chosen Carefully: New Zealand Writers in Discussion pp.108-133, Ed. Siobhan Harvey. Cape Catley Ltd: Auckland 2010

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