Emerging Māori Writer in Residence

About the residency

The Emerging Māori Writer's Residency was established in 2019 by Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, with the support of Creative New Zealand. It runs for three months in the first half of each year, funding dependent, and includes a writing room, a mentor from the Māori arts community, and a stipend of $15,000.

Applications are invited from Māori writers in most areas of literary activity, including drama, fiction and poetry (page and performance), devised performance, creative nonfiction, and graphic novels, but excluding film and television scriptwriting. Projects may be written in English or te reo Māori.

Applicants should be writers at an early stage of their career, with a growing body of work, and must be either New Zealand citizens or hold permanent residency.  There is no restriction on the occupation of applicants, but they should not be full-time employees of Creative New Zealand or the University, nor have been employed on a full-time basis by the University in the twelve months prior to the closing date.

Applications typically open mid-year and close late October for the following year's appointment.

There will be a notification on this page during the application period, and a link to the full role description and application on the Current Vacancies page of the University's website. Enquiries can be directed at any time to modernletters@vuw.ac.nz.

The 2024 Resident is Shelley Burne-Field.

We also offer the three-month Emerging Pasifika Writer's Residency, and the full-year Victoria University of Wellington/Creative New Zealand Writer's Residency on an annual basis.

2024 Emerging Māori Writer in Residence—Shelley Burne-Field (Sāmoa, Ngati Mutunga, Ngati Rārua, Pākehā)

Shelley Burne-Field. (Photo credit: William Field)
2024 Emerging Māori Writer in Residence Shelley Burne-Field. (Image by William Field.)

Ms Burne-Field writes fiction, creative non-fiction, and poetry. She comes from Te Matau-a-Māui (Hawke's Bay) and is an alumna of the University of Auckland's Master of Creative Writing, as well as Te Papa Tupu mentoring programme. Her work has appeared in local and international literary journals and anthologies, on NewsroomE-Tangata, and RNZ. Two upper-middle-grade novels are forthcoming from Allen & Unwin.

In 2022 she was awarded a Surrey Hotel residency and was the only New Zealand finalist in that year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Her poem 'Another Brown Face' won the Poetry in English category of the 2023 Pikihuia Awards. She has hosted Māori and Pasifika writers' panels at the Hawke’s Bay Readers and Writers Festival and appeared as a kaituhi at the Central Hawke's Bay Readers and Writers Festival, Between the Lines.

During her three-month residency, Ms Burne-Field will work on a novel set in a future Aotearoa, on an estate built on confiscated land, where the rise of Artificial General Intelligence is reshaping the lives of tangata whenua, Pasifika, and settler communities.

2023 Emerging Māori Writer in Residence—Colleen Maria Lehihan (Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi)

Ms Lenihan is a fiction writer, screenwriter, and photographer, and a graduate of Te Papa Tupu and The Creative Hub. Her writing has appeared on Newsroom, and in the New Zealand Herald and The Pantograph Punch. She has been awarded a number of residencies: the Michael King Writers' Centre Emerging Māori Writer (2019); the Newroom/Surrey Hotel Winner (2019); and the Dan Davin Literary Foundation (2021) residency.

After fifteen years in Tokyo and a year in New York City, Ms Lenihan returned to Tāmaki Makaurau in 2016 where she is now based. She has written for Ahikāroa, a drama on Māori TV, and is currently a writer for Shortland Street.

Her first book of stories, Kōhine, was published in 2022 and received rave reviews. The stories range in location and topic from Tokyo to Tāmaki Makaurau and rural Aotearoa. Reviewer Anna Rankin wrote that 'Kōhine is a stunning taonga by a remarkably accomplished author who has given us a work that further places Te Ao Māori firmly at the forefront of literature in this country'.

During her three-month residency, Ms Lenihan worked on a novel set in Aotearoa in pre-European times.

Previous Emerging Māori Writers in Residence

All photos by Robert Cross.

2020 Talia Marshall (Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Rārua, Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Takihiku).
Due to lockdown restrictions, no portrait was  taken.