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. Projects may be written in English or te reo Māori and the residency is open to writers across all genres except for film and television scriptwriting.

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.

Applications are invited from Māori writers in all areas of literary activity, including drama, fiction and poetry (page and performance), devised performance, creative non-fiction, graphic novels, etc.

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.

Our 2023 Resident is Colleen Maria Lenihan. The Residency will run in the first half of 2023.

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.

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

Image of Colleen Maria Lenihan. (Photo by Jane Ussher.)
Image of Colleen Maria Lenihan. (Photo by Jane Ussher.)

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 will work on a novel set in Aotearoa in pre-European times. 'I'm also interested in Indigenous futurism and potentially exploring what this place would be like if it had never been colonised,' Ms Lenihan says.

Director of the International Institute of Modern Letters Damien Wilkins says, 'Colleen is part of a remarkable wave of Wāhine Toa remaking the literature of Aotearoa. Her debut book of stories revealed a writer of great talent and promise. She's fully set to launch into the next stage of her career and we’re thrilled to be hosting her.'

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.