National | Māori

Tā Pou Temara wins first Māori language book honour at Ockham Book Awards

Written completely in Māori, Te Rautakitahi o Tūhoe ki Ōrākau is a history, written from a Māori perspective.

Sir William Te Rangiua ‘Pou’ Temara has picked up a new award at this year’s Ockham Book Awards.

The Ngāi Tūhoe descendant won the 2024 Te Mūrau o te Tuhi Māori Language Award for his book Te Rautakitahi o Tūhoe ki Ōrākau.

Judge Paraone Gloyne (Raukawa ki Wharepūhunga, Ngāti Maniapoto) says the book is a valuable account exploring the big questions about the Tūhoe men and women who went to fight with Ngāti Maniapoto in the battle of Ōrākau during the New Zealand Wars.

Raised in Ruatāhuna, where most of the Tūhoe who went to Ōrākau came from, Temara offers a unique insight into this key episode, written entirely in Māori, Glopyne says. “Te Rautakitahi O Tūhoe ki Ōrākau is a rare, vividly executed, and deeply considered book based on oral sources through the stories told to Tā Pou.”

Temara says it was a case of collating all the kōrero passed down to him by his elders.

“He mea pai ki a au te tuhi i te pukapuka rā, ehara i te mea uaua. Nā te mea i te mōhio mātou ki ngā kōrero. He kōrero i rongo mātou i a mātou e tamariki ana i ō mātou kaumātua, koroua, kuia e taki kōrero ana mō Ōrākau.”

“It was a pleasure for me to write the book; it wasn’t difficult because we know the stories. These are stories told to us while we were children by our elders. They would recite these stories about Ōrākau.”

Temara is the first recipient of the Te Murau o te Tuhi award, and he says it’s an amazing idea that celebrates Māori history books in te reo Māori.

Kua koa taku ngākau nā te mea, i whakatau rātou, kia whakanuia te reo Māori, ka mutu, ko au tā rātou i whakatau ai, hei whakawhiwhi mā rātou i te tohu whakamana i te reo Māori.

“I’m very pleased that they decided to celebrate the Māori language, and for them to decide that the te reo Māori award should be given to me.”

Other winners include internationally acclaimed Emily Perkins, who won the $65,000 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction for her book Lioness – a novel exploring wealth, class and female mid-life reckoning.

Perkins received the award ahead of Booker-Prize-winning author and screenwriter Eleanor Catton (Birnam Wood), Pip Adam (Audition), and Stephen Daisley (A Better Place). Adam and Daisley are both previous winners of the Acorn Prize for Fiction.