Award-winning Māori novelist joins Victoria University of Wellington

Award-winning fiction writer and essayist Dr Tina Makereti will join Victoria University of Wellington's International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) in 2020 as co-convenor of the highly regarded Master's in Creative Writing.

Tina Makereti (photo by Robert Cross)

This is a joint appointment with the School of English, Film and Theatre and she will contribute to its Māori and Pacific Literature teaching programme.

Dr Makereti, whose work explores cultural identity, history, belonging and representation holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the University, and in 2014 she convened the IIML's first Māori & Pasifika Writing Workshop. She is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Rangatahi, Pākehā, and, according to family stories, Moriori descent.

IIML Director, Professor Damien Wilkins, says, 'This is an exciting appointment for the IIML, the English Literature teaching programme and the wider University. Tina is an outstanding creative writer and scholar. Her championing of Māori writing, in particular, offers our students new opportunities to develop their own work.'

The appointment means a further workshop will be added to the two existing Master of Arts (Page) workshops convened by writers Emily Perkins and Chris Price, and the Master of Arts (Script) workshop convened by Ken Duncum, allowing more writers to enter the programme.

Dr Makereti's first novel, Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings (Vintage, 2014) has been described in NZ Listener as 'a remarkable [book that] spans generations of Moriori, Māori, and Pākehā descendants as they grapple with a legacy of pacifism, violent domination, and cross-cultural dilemmas'. It was longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award and won the 2014 Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Award for Fiction, which Dr Makereti also received for her short story collection, Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa (2011).

Her short story 'Black Milk' won the 2016 Pacific Regional Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and her fourth book, The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke (2019) was published in the United Kingdom in September this year. The Listener reviewer described it as a novel that has 'breathed new life into the story of colonial contact', saying, 'She takes historical accounts and assumptions and overlays them with our modern sensibilities to create compelling present-day fiction'.

Dr Makereti has presented her work throughout New Zealand and in Frankfurt, Taipei, Jamaica, Toronto, and the United Kingdom.

'I'm delighted and still quite surprised to be able to say I'll be convening a Master of Arts Creative Writing workshop at the IIML next year as well as contributing to teaching Māori and Pasifika literatures in English,' says Dr Makereti.

'It's really valuable for students when universities choose to increase kaupapa Māori capacity, opening up programmes in vital and dynamic ways. I think creative writing in Aotearoa is flourishing right now and a big part of that is our rangatahi writers, so it's a huge privilege to be any part of this.'

For more information contact Professor Damien Wilkins on

Media release issued by Victoria University of Wellington Communications Manager Sarah Boyd,, (04) 463 6105