Witi’s Wāhine and reclaiming te reo Māori
Literary great Witi Ihimaera (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki) talks with award-winning author Shilo Kino (Ngapuhi, Ngāti Maniopoto) about changing the narrative and going back to school at 79 years of age, ahead of Witi’s Wāhine, a play dedicated to the wāhine toa of the East Coast who inspired him.
I am standing next to Witi Ihimaera in his kitchen, waiting for the jug to boil. He is soft-spoken, gentle and full of manaaki. For a moment I forget I am in the presence of one of our literary greats. We talk about our journey of learning te reo Māori, and I am struck by his humility.
“I honour people who speak te reo,” he says. “I honour them very much. I also hope they honour me as someone who doesn’t speak fluent te reo Māori.”
Ihimaera needs no introduction. He has written award-winning fiction, short stories, scripts, essays, memoirs and librettos, including The Whale Rider and The Matriarch. His recent accolades include the New Zealand Society of Authors President of Honour (2022-23), a Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement and an Ockham New Zealand Book Award for his autobiography, Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood.
Link to article: Witi Ihimaera: Auckland Theatre Company’s Witi’s Wāhine and reclaiming te reo Māori - NZ Herald