Word 13 May 2013

Kia ora Paekakariki and welcome to Word. I’m Mercedes, and in this show I’ll be taking a look at writers and Paekakariki. What is it about this village that attracts people who make art with words? I’ll be asking local writers this question, starting with Helen Heath.


Words and music have been linked throughout history. This first song illustrates

the kind of connection I’m looking for. Christine White, local songwriter and musician, wrote the song for Jackie Sturm, one of the writers I’ll take a closer look at. Hinemoana Baker, local poet, musician and teacher, wrote the Maori words for it, and Christine and Hinemoana sing it together – here is Beautiful Thing.




Helen Heath is a poet and doctoral student at the Institute of Modern Letters. Her first book Graft was published last year to critical acclaim. She has lived in Paekakariki for the last 12 years.

Helen’s debut collection of poetry Graft, has been shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize. The result will be announced on Saturday May 18th, and we all wish her great success.


Another local songwriter/musician is Linzee. I first heard her singing at an open mic night at Finns, and she’s just recorded and released her first CD, Love Blood. Raw emotive lyrics backed by strong melodies and passionate vocal delivery.




Thinking about Paekakariki and writers, one of the first names to leap to mind is Dennis Glover. But Paekakariki had links to a famous writer, even before Dennis and Khura came to stay. The American novelist Leon Uris was a marine stationed at Camp McKay in 1943. I’ve heard he had a love afffair with a local girl, and two hearts were broken when war moved him on. He wrote of his training in Paekakariki in his first novel, Battle Cry. Here’s an excerpt from it.





One of the icons of writing in New Zealand is Bill Manhire, charasmatic leader of the IIML team until last year, world-renowned poet, critic, writer, lecturer, mentor and administrator. Helen, Hinemoana, myself, and Rob Hack, the next poet, have all benefitted from his presence. I’ll talk more about him later, but for now, enjoy his words set to music by composer/pianistNorman Meehan, vocals by Hannah Griffin.



Rob Hack, poet/handyman, born in Invercargill in 1953, writes about his Cook Island heritage his early years on Niue Island, his several forays into Australia, social issues, media, other poets, places and people, often with wry humour. He reads at bars and cafes around Wellington. Some of his work appears online on the Whitireia website, in 4th Floor, and in Victoria University’s 2011 online journal Turbine.



And, finally, I was asked for a long poem, so here is my Waiata of Waiting: