Whiti Hereaka (Scriptwriting 2002)

Learning to give and to receive feedback was invaluable. It was both overwhelming and humbling to have a room full of people discussing your work.

Whiti writes: 'The most vivid memories I have of my time at the IIML are not really about the writing. It is the jokes about who could take the last chocolate biscuit, or sitting outside with the smokers talking about everything and anything but writing, or complaining about having to watch Ghost (on VHS!) that I think of.

'We were the first Scriptwriting stream at the IIML. The writer in residence at the time, Chris Orsman, said that he could tell when the Scriptwriters were meeting: we were much louder than the Page stream.

'Learning to give and to receive feedback was invaluable. Our feedback was always frank and sometimes I felt pummelled by it. It was both overwhelming and humbling to have a room full of people discussing your work. I soon learnt that I could not hide the holes in my script – someone would pick them up.

'My time at the IIML shaped me as a writer. I'm pretty sure I picked up the idea of using index cards to map out my story from Ken. It's become a natural part of my practice as a writer, whether I'm writing a play or a novel. No matter what I write, there will always be a little Ken voice in my head saying: "Show Don't Tell".

'And I always take the last chocolate biscuit.'

Bio: Whiti Hereaka is of Ngati Tuwharetoa, Te Arawa and Pakeha descent. She has written for the stage, radio, film and the page.

Since graduating from the IIML she has had several plays produced: Fallow (Tawata Productions 2005), Collective Agreement (Young and Hungry 2005), I Ain't Nothing But/A Glimmer in the Dark She Said (Open Book Productions for STAB 2006), Te Kaupoi (Bush Collective 2010), For Johnny (Young and Hungry, 2011) and Rewena (Centrepoint Theatre, 2013).

Whiti was the 2012 recipient of the Bruce Mason award. She won Best New Play by a Maori Playwright, Adam Play Awards in 2010 for the critically-acclaimed Te Kaupoi and again in 2011 for Rona and Rabbit on the Moon. Her play inspired by the poetry of Rowley Habib –Raw Men – was shortlisted for the Adam New Play award 2012.

Whiti is the author of two novels The Graphologist's Apprentice (Huia, 2010) and Bugs (Huia, 2013). The Graphologist's Apprentice was shortlisted for Best First Book in the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Asia/Pacific region) in 2011. Bugs won an Honour Award at the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults 2014. Bugs was also a Storylines Notable Book and a finalist in the 2014 LIANZA Awards.

In 2013, Whiti was a writer in residence at the University of Iowa as part of their International Writing Program. She has also been writer in residence at the Michael King Writers Centre (Summer 2012) and at Randell Cottage (2006).

Whiti is currently working on two novels – a time-slip novel about the Maori Contingent in WWI and a retelling of the Te Arawa story of Hatupatu and the Bird-woman from Kurangaituku's point of view.

Read more: