'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
The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke
While exhibited as a curiosity, a Māori boy turns his gaze on Victorian London.
'The hour is late. The candle is low. Tomorrow I will see whether it is my friends or a ship homewards I meet. But I must finish my story for you first. My future, my descendant, my mokopuna. Listen.’ So begins the tale of James Poneke: orphaned son of a chief; ardent student of English; wide-eyed survivor. All the world’s a stage, especially when you’re a living exhibit. But anything can happen to a young New Zealander on the savage streets of Victorian London. When James meets the man with laughing dark eyes and the woman who dresses as a man, he begins to discover who people really are beneath their many guises. Although London is everything James most desires, this new world is more dark and dazzling than he could have imagined.
Tina Makereti writes novels, essays and short stories. The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke is her fourth book. Her short story, ‘Black Milk’, won the Pacific Regional Commonwealth Short Story Prize (2016). Her first 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 presented her work all over New Zealand and in Frankfurt, Taipei, Jamaica and the UK. 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. She is of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Rangatahi, Pākehā and, according to family stories, Moriori descent.
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.