Tina Makereti (Writing for the Page, 2008)

Being as open to critique as possible helped accelerate my learning. I loved the democracy of the workshop room, where we all learnt from each other.

Tina writes: 'I remember one of the most thrilling moments in my writing life was when I found out I had gotten into Bill's MA class. People sometimes ask how I felt about getting published, and although that was brilliant in so many ways, it didn't equal the excitement I felt at being able to dedicate a year to writing at the IIML. Which seems a bit backwards, really, but I think it shows a few things: one, that I’m a complete nerd who likes nothing better than 'doing a course' in something I love; two, that what the course meant to me was intensive time to write and potentially find a community (I rate these two as almost equal in terms of the impact of the course); three, that I knew the course would change things for me profoundly.

'And it did. The MA was an opportunity to find out how to write and what I was capable of writing. It was that opportunity for all of us, but there were few instructions. We learnt to write simply by writing, and by reading, and by making something we could look at as a complete thing, even though it was just the beginning of a book. (I think it might help to understand early on, though I didn't, that at the end of the course what most people will have is simply the beginning of something.) I am still surprised at how far the course took me. It is not overstating things to say it completely changed my life, partly because I used it as a catalyst to make change happen. I found that being as open to critique as possible helped accelerate my learning and development. I loved the democracy of the workshop room, where we all learnt from each other. I loved the train and bus trips from Palmerston North to Wellington and home again – full of writing and reading, daydreaming and storymaking.

'And when I was done, I couldn’t leave, because there was another, bigger project waiting in the wings. I was lucky enough to get into the PhD straight away, which represented a longer and deeper learning curve. I can’t really overstate what the IIML and its people have given me. No reira, ngā mihi nunui!'

Bio: Most of Tina Makereti's first novel, Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings (Random House, 2014), was written as the creative component of her PhD. Her short story collection, Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa (Huia Publishers, 2010), was begun during her MA year, and later won the Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Awards Fiction Prize 2011. In 2009 she was the recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing (non-fiction), and in the same year received the Pikihuia Award for Best Short Story Written in English. In October 2012, Makereti was Writer in Residence at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt, and in 2013 she was Curator-at-Large for the New Zealand Film Archive. In 2014 she was the Randall Cottage Writer in Residence . She also teaches creative writing at Massey and Victoria University of Wellington. From 2014 - 2016 she convened CREW 256 Māori and Pasifika Writing Workshop (Te Hiringa A Tuhi) at the IIML.

Black Marks on the White Page, an anthology of Māori and Pasifika fiction co-edited by Tina and Witi Ihimaeara, was published by Penguin Random House New Zealand in July 2017.

Makereti is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Pākehā and, in all probability, Moriori descent. She lives on the Kāpiti Coast with her partner, two daughters and unruly dog.

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