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Looking at the Works of Alice Tawhai: An Argument for Māori Literary Nationalism

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posted on 2021-11-12, 13:33 authored by Holland, Charlie (Natasha)

Contemporary Māori writer Alice Tawhai has published two collections of short stories, Festival of Miracles (2005) and Luminous (2007). Tawhai's narratives portray Māori people living an array of diverse lifestyles and her collections include stories about isolation, gangs, substance abuse, identity, education, art and spirituality; her work has been reviewed in literary magazines and online as new fiction that reflected a contemporary society in Aotearoa and these literary reviews imply that Tawhai's stories are a reflection of Māori people. For Māori readers, Tawhai's narratives demand a different interpretation of the text, a different way of reading, in order to read these stories of their own merits. To this end, this thesis proposes a practice for reading called 'Māori literary nationalism' which is based on a book called, American Indian Literary Nationalism whose proposed literary practice can be suitably adapted for a Maori literary context. One of the most important components of Maori literary nationalism is the idea of keeping Māori as the central focus, analyzing Māori literature with an insider's view. Māori literary nationalism provides a space for Māori readers to discuss literature, exchange ideas and encourage dialogue amongst each other. More importantly Māori literary nationalism offer Māori readers an opportunity to read Alice Tawhai's work in a way that foregrounds the uniqueness of her short stories.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


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