New Zealand literature

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New Zealand literature is either written by New Zealanders or migrants, dealing with New Zealand themes or places. It is primarily a 20th-century creation. New Zealand literature is almost exclusively in the English language and as such a sub-type of English literature.

Early Maori literature[edit]

The Māori were a pre-literate culture until contact with Europeans in the early 19th Century. New Zealand acknowledges the presence of its indigenous Māori and the special place they have in New Zealand culture. Oratory and recitation of quasi historical / hagiographical ancestral blood lines has a special place in Māori culture; eurocentric notions of 'literature' may fail to describe the Māori cultural forms of the oral tradition.

In the early nineteenth century Christian missionaries developed written forms of Polynesian languages to assist with their evangelical work. The oral tradition of story telling and folklore has survived and the early missionaries collected folk tales. In the pre-colonial period there was no literature, after European contact and the introduction of literacy there were Māori language publications. No literary works in Māori have been translated and become widely read. The Māori language has survived to the present day and although not widely spoken is used as medium of instruction in education in a small number of schools. As far as Māori literature can be said to exist, it is principally literature in English dealing with Māori themes.

Poetry[edit]

New Zealand poetry, like all poetry, is influenced by time and place and has been through a number of changes. Poetry has been part of New Zealand culture since before European settlement in the form of Māori sung poems or waiata. The first colonial Pakeha poetry was also predominantly sung poetry. Initially colonial poetry had a preoccupation with British themes. New Zealand poetry developed a strong local voice from the 1950s, and has now become a "polyphony" of traditionally marginalised voices.[1]

Writers[edit]

Novelists Patricia Grace, Albert Wendt, Maurice Gee and children’s author Margaret Mahy, are prominent in New Zealand.[2]

Keri Hulme gained prominence when her novel, The Bone People, won the Booker Prize. Witi Ihimaera wrote the novel that became the critically acclaimed movie Whale Rider, directed by Nikki Caro. His works deal with Māori life in the modern world, often incorporating fantastic elements.

Writers claimed by New Zealand as its own include immigrants, such as South African-born Robin Hyde, and emigrants who went into exile but wrote about New Zealand, like Dan Davin and Katherine Mansfield. Erewhon, a novel set in New Zealand and written by Samuel Butler as a result of a stay in New Zealand, arguably belongs primarily to English literature. Likewise the New Zealand work of Karl Wolfskehl, resulting from his sojourn in Auckland, belongs rather to the story of German literature.

Playwrights[edit]

New Zealand has a lively community of playwrights in theatre. One of the country's most significant and successful playwrights is Roger Hall. Support for playwrights and plays in New Zealand is provided by Playmarket, a national organisation which also publishes and sells plays and scripts. Playmarket also represents Māori and Pacific Island playwrights.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Green, P., & Ricketts, H. (2010). 99 Ways into New Zealand Poetry. Auckland: Random House.
  2. ^ Swarbrick, Nancy (13 January 2009). "Creative life". Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Williams, Mark, ed. (2012). Anthology of New Zealand literature. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland University Press. ISBN 9781869405892. 

External links[edit]