Ngāi Tahu writer wins Berlin residency

Hinemoana Baker. Photo by Robert Cross, courtesy Hinemoana Baker.

Hinemoana Baker. Photo by Robert Cross, courtesy Hinemoana Baker.

The 2015-16 Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer’s Residency has been awarded to Wellington-based writer, Hinemoana Baker (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa,Te Āti Awa).

The residency allows an established writer to work on an approved project for up to eleven months in Berlin, Germany and covers travel to and accommodation in Berlin, a monthly stipend and incidentals.

Creative New Zealand’s Chief Executive, Stephen Wainwright says, “Along with dedicated space and time to devote to an approved project, this residency has enabled some of our finest writers to experience the culture of this inspirational city and develop their work in a new environment. A further benefit is that it helps build awareness of New Zealand literature in Berlin.”

Hinemoana will work on a new collection of poetry during her time in Berlin and attend poetry events in Poland and Belarus.

“My mother’s ancestors arrived in New Zealand on the St Pauli from Oberammergau, Bavaria via Hamburg. Living in Germany would allow me to further investigate these whakapapa connections and write into them. I’ll take German classes too. I learned Māori as an adult, and I’m looking forward to the experience of learning this new, ancestral language. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to focus solely on the writing of poetry for such a solid block of time,” she says.

A writer, musician and teacher of creative writing, Baker’s poetry, fiction and children’s stories have been published in the literary journal Sport, the anthology of Māori writing Te Ao Mārama, online literary journal Turbine, the School Journal and in Best New Zealand Poems. Two plays were produced for the Te Reo Māori Season by Wellington’s Taki Rua Theatre in the 1990s and in 1998 she was awarded the Stout Research Centre/Reader’s Digest Writing Fellowship at Victoria University.

Her first book of poetry, mātuhi | needle, was co-published in 2004 by Victoria University Press and Perceval Press in the US, with a second collection of poetry, kōiwi kōiwi | bone bone (Victoria University Press), launched in Wellington in 2010. She co-edited the anthology Kaupapa: New Zealand Poets, World Issues in 2007, and has released four CDs of music and poetry.

She was Arts Queensland Poet in Residence in 2009, writer in residence with the International Writing Programme at the University of Iowa in 2010 and has appeared at festivals and events in New Zealand and in Australia, Indonesia and the US. She was Victoria University’s 2014 writer in residence at the International Institute of Modern Letters and her third book, waha | mouth, was published in August 2014.

Hinemoana is also a performer and producer of her own work. She has recorded several albums of original music, has toured nationally and internationally with both her songs and her writing. Her first album, puāwai (Jayrem Records, 2004) was a finalist for the NZ Music Awards and the APRA Silver Scrolls Māori Language award. She has produced regular music and documentary features for Radio New Zealand National.

The Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency alternates with the biennial Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Artists’ Residency. The 11-month residency offers a stipend of $40,000 and the use of the Creative New Zealand apartment in the heart of Berlin. Previous recipients are Sarah Quigley, Tina Shaw, Kapka Kassabova, Philip Temple, Tim Corballis, Lloyd Jones, Sir James McNeish, Kate Camp and Ian Wedde.