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Calling the Taniwha: Mana Wahine Maori and the Poetry of Roma Potiki

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posted on 2021-11-09, 01:43 authored by Lambert, Kelly

This thesis aims to explore the implications of reading the poetry of Roma Potiki with some of the critical writing about Mana Wahine Maori. At the intersections between the creative and the critical writings, I produce a grouping of literature that I name 'Mana Wahine Maori poetry in English'. Specifically, I contend that combining the kaupapa of Mana Wahine Maori scholarship with the poetry of Roma Potiki, and other Maori women poets, results in new readings of all the texts involved that are rich in complexities and multiplicities. In Chapter One I explain the choice of Roma Potiki's poetry as poutokomanawa for this thesis and briefly introduce some of the issues surrounding genre, canon-making and naming for Mana Wahine Maori poetry in English. Chapter Two illustrates the whakapapa of Mana Wahine Maori critical writings and explores the implications of the 'Mana' in Mana Wahine Maori poetry in English. Chapter Three considers the 'Wahine Maori' of Mana Wahine Maori poetry in English, both by examination of 'Wahine' in its New Zealand context, and by reference to a selection of Black American, Native American and First Nations, Australian Aboriginal and feminist literary critical writings. Chapter Four supports the pluralist nature of Mana Wahine Maori poetry in English by specific reference to Iwi/Hapu/Whanau contexts, urban wahine Maori contexts and wahine takatapui contexts. Finally, Chapter Five examines whether Mana Wahine Maori poetry in English is still a productive grouping when reading the works of not only other wahine Maori poets, but other wahine Maori writers generally, and I use the writings of Keri Hulme to investigate this. Therefore, I argue that naming this diverse collection of writing 'Mana Wahine Maori poetry in English' enables new kinds of readings that admit and debate the multiplicities inherent in all of these works.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

New Zealand Literature

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of English, Film, Theatre and Media Studies


Te Punga Somerville, Alice