Writer and poet Keri Kaa

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:14 pm on 5 October 2014

Keri Kaa at her home in Rangitukia
Keri Kaa at her home in Rangitukia.

We became public figures often speaking for family rights and land rights, and someone said to us, why do you always get up? We said we’ve got no choice, it was prophesied before we were born.  And you hear stories like that throughout the motu but people only keep them within their family, because people think it is conceited,  it's whakahihi, to go around telling everybody how clever you are, how good looking you are,  or how madly intelligent you are,  all that sort of rubbish. When in fact it’s your birthright that you were loaded up with, so you have to get out and do something with it.  - Keri Kaa.

The children's te reo Māori book Taka Ki Ro Wai was written by Hohi Ngapera Te Moana Keri Kaa in about three days. The inspiration of the story occurred on one morning of her birthday when she came upon a newly born foal still in its birth sac. What unfolded was an unlikely story of a pig, a distressed foal and a horse.

Keri Kaa is a writer and poet and has long been an advocate of Māori literature, film and education. Last year her contribution to her community and Māori Arts was honoured when she was awarded a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, CNZM. 

Creative director Martin D Page provided the illustrations for the book; his favourite page is the map of Rangitukia. The book is a finalist in the Nga Aho section of The National Design Awards, and will also feature at The Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany. His next task is working on an English edition of Taka Ki Ro Wai.

Justine Murray talks to Martin about his work and visits Keri Kaa at her home in Rangitukia.