'Tina Makereti's characters move among places and people where mundane blends with marvellous; colloquial with lyrical; violent with self-sacrificial... Makereti is able to take a moment and examine its reality, even as she turns it into something symbolic and transcending...' - David Hill, Canvas/NZ Herald
From the Chatham Islands/Rēkohu to London, the 21st century to 1835, this novel confronts the complexity of being Moriori, Māori and Pākehā.
In the 1880s, Mere yearns for independence. Her best friend Iraia wants the same, but as the descendent of a slave, such things are barely conceivable to him. One summer as they approach adulthood, they notice that their friendship has changed, and that, if they are ever to experience freedom, they will need to travel beyond the isolation and safety of their Queen Charlotte Sound home.
One hundred years later, twins Lula and Bigsy's birth is literally one in a million, as their mother Tui likes to tell people. But when Tui dies they learn there is much she kept secret, especially about their heritage. They too will need to travel beyond the world they have known, to an island they barely knew existed, at the eastern edge of New Zealand's Pacific realm.
Neither Mere and Iraia, nor Lula and Bigs are aware that someone else is part of their journeys. He does not watch over them so much as watch through them, feeling their loss and confusion as if it were his own.
Tina Makereti writes novels, essays and short stories. Her short story, ‘Black Milk’, recently won the Pacific Regional Commonwealth Short Story Prize (2016). Her novel, Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings (Vintage, 2014) has been described 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, also won by her short story collection, Once Upon a Time in Aotearoa (Huia, 2011). In 2009 Tina was the recipient of the Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize for Creative Science Writing (Non-fiction) and the Pikihuia Award for Best Short Story Written in English. She has been writer in residence at Randell Cottage, Wellington, and the Weltkulturen Museum, Frankfurt. Makereti has a PhD Creative Writing from Victoria University, and in 2014 she convened the first Māori & Pasifika Writing Workshop at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University. Tina teaches into the BA Creative Writing, Masters Creative Writing and Phd Creative Writing programmes at Massey University, Palmerston North, which can also be accessed via distance learning. She is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Rangatahi, Pākehā and, according to family stories, Moriori descent. Her third book of fiction will be completed early 2017.
Many thanks to Marcus Golding Photography for the banner image. Photograph taken at the Calabash Festival 2016, Treasure Beach, Jamaica. And to David Hill for the banner quote. WALK GOOD.