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Kiri Solomon (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahu ki Whangaroa) has been crowned emerging Māori writer in the 2022 Sunday Star-Times short story awards.
The award category was judged by Witi Ihimaera who said Solomon's story Our Tūī offered a different reading experience with matrices grounded in mātauranga Māori
“You have to give yourself time and have a bit of knowledge to really savour it to the full,” Ihimaera said.
Solomon recently completed a PhD through the University of Canterbury looking at emotional literacy utilising concepts from te maramataka – the Māori lunar calendar.
“I hadn’t seen too much of this mātauranga in the fiction space, so I thought maybe it was a gap I could start to fill," she told Stuff.
Ihimaera said the short stories from Māori writers such as Solomon were like music to his ears, “like the cry, the song, the call of the birds of the forest, tūī, tūī, tūītūīa!”
They sounded even sweeter by being representative of the current generation, he told Stuff.
“Māoridom must always replenish the stock of its narratives for the future and the stories must be told anew in new ways and with new voices. My generation, the generation of Patricia Grace, Renee and Api Taylor among others, doesn't want to read the same old, same old. Neither does yours!”
Ihimaera particularly loved that the three finalists for this award told their stories in a Māori way.
“You wouldn’t want Māori writers to write according to the assumptions and expectations of Pākehā literature would you? Of course not.”
Solomon receives $1,500 for the win.