Regional | Wellington

Māori writer awarded a year off to write at Victoria University

Award-winning kaituhituhi Shelley Burne-Field has been appointed as the Te Herenga Waka - Victoria University of Wellington International Institute of Modern Letters and Creative New Zealand Emerging Māori Writer in Residence for 2024.

“Ka rawe! This residency is a life-changing gift, Burne-Field (Sāmoa, Ngati Mutunga, Ngati Rārua, Pākehā) says.

“Imagine a safe space in which to thrive and explore with kupu and ideas. To be surrounded by people who have said, please come, nau mai haere mai, we see you, we want to awhi you, to help you write and create! It’s a dream come true. He mihi tino nui kia koutou katoa.”

Burne-Field writes fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry. She comes from Te Matau-a-Māui (Hawke’s Bay) and is an alumna of the University of Auckland’s master of creative writing, as well as Te Papa Tupu mentoring programme. Her work has appeared in local and international literary journals and anthologies, on Newsroom, E-Tangata, and RNZ. Two novels are forthcoming from Allen & Unwin.

In 2022 she was awarded a Surrey Hotel residency and was the only New Zealand finalist in that year’s Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Her poem Another Brown Face won the poetry in English category of the 2023 Pikihuia Awards. She has hosted Māori and Pasifika writers’ panels at the Hawke’s Bay Readers and Writers Festival, and appeared as a kaituhi at the Central Hawke’s Bay Readers and Writers Festival, Between the Lines.

During her three-month residency, Ms Burne-Field will work on a novel set in a future Aotearoa, on an estate built on confiscated land, where the rise of artificial general intelligence is reshaping the lives of tangata whenua, Pasifika, and settler communities.

International Institute of Modern Letters director Damien Wilkins, says, “We’re thrilled to support Shelley. Her fiction is both sharply funny and emotionally rich. She’s clearly a gifted writer with things to say.”