|Tuiatua Tupua - Samoa's former Head of State|
Baxter, our most charismatic and radical poet, went on to establish the commune of Jerusalem on the Whanganui River, where he forged strong links with local iwi, railed against social inequality and injustice in the Pig Island Letters, before alcoholism killed him at the age of 46.
Tupua, a tall, elegant figure now aged 81, had flown in from Samoa to grace the launch of our Creative Hub Charity. One aim of the Trust is to create scholarships for Maori and Pasifika writers, and Tuiatua Tupua has published three books of his own.
With the number of Samoans living in New Zealand almost equaling the population of Samoa itself, the preservation of Samoan cultural identity in Aotearoa is pressing: new generations of Samoan writers, such as Selina Tusitala Marsh are staking out their own vivid hybrid identity - and we were thrilled to have Selina, NZ's Poet Laureate, execute her galvanising verses at the launch.
|Selina - Warrior Poet Princess|
To me, the most delightful moment of the evening was the opening karakia, delivered by singer Soulsista Aotearoa, which chilled and thrilled us in equal measure with its force and beauty.
Her website says: "With lyrics that bleed truth and a voice that reflects the name, Soulsista represents a modern culture of New Zealanders influenced by traditional funk and soul. Based on Waiheke Island, Soulsista is of Maori descent ... Ngāti Rangitihi & Te Arawa Ngāti Porou, & Ngāpuhi. Kai Tahu & Te Ati Awa. She looks to the environment to provide inspiration, as well as ... Bob Marley, Jill Scott, Sade, Ben Harper."
|Soulsista - on song|
When I spoke, I lamented the death of many great Auckland publishers in recent years - and the pressing need to partner with Creative NZ to create fresh new publishing outlets for the rising talent in the literary gene pool of Tamaki Makaurau.
The future of writing in Aotearoa will be the story of the creative cross-fertilisation of many cultures - the great adventure of Western literature colliding with the epic story-telling and voyaging traditions of Polynesia. History teaches us that the most propitious periods in literature have been at the points when the tectonic plates of culture collide. It is a truly thrilling future in prospect ... and we hope, here at the Creative Hub, to play a small part in conjuring it into existence.
You can read Tuitua Tupua's speech for the launch of our Trust here