Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand is a book that arose:
In the aftermath of the Christchurch terrorist attacks of 15 March 2019, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared: 'We are all New Zealanders.' These words resonated, an instant meme that asserted our national diversity and inclusiveness and, at the same time, issued a rebuke to hatred and divisiveness. Ko Aotearoa Tatou | We Are New Zealand is bursting with new works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and visual art created in response to the editors' questions: What is New Zealand now, in all its rich variety and contradiction, darkness and light? Who are New Zealanders?
The editors and publishers had quite a job bringing the idea to life - anthology editors Michelle Elvy, Paula Morris, and James Norcliffe and art editor David Eggleton as well as consulting editors Claire Beynon, Rajorshi Chakraborti, Adrienne Jansen, Dione Joseph, and Renee Liang. This WORD Christchurch event with publishers Otago University Press was a chance to launch and celebrate the book - and the many wonderful creative people whose works are in it.
Corban Te Aika welcomed us on behalf of Ngāi Tūāhuriri (Ngāi Tahu). Paula Morris explained the book's origins and its kaupapa of "including".
What is New Zealand now? How do our writers and artists see it, celebrate it, bemoan it?
What are we now.
What might we become.
Poet Laureate David Eggleton was the art editor. He praised the funding from Creative NZ which meant every contributor was paid. Some were very young, and publishing in print for the first time.
Then we heard from some of the contributors (and more were in the audience).
Dr Hanif Quazi spoke about moving here from Peshawar in 1967. There was no mosque, no graveyard in Christchurch then. He told how a Ugandan refugee in 1977 requested a Muslim burial, and that plot 18 in Linwood Cemetery was allocated. Hanif gave us more of the history of Al Noor Mosque, how it was seen a city mosque would promote understanding of Islam.
Our dreams were shattered 37 years after breaking ground.
He told us about the empathy and aroha he saw demonstrated in the hours, days, and weeks after:
And now we have this book in our hand.
Jillian read a poem about the Nevis River.
Vera read a poem about "The first day of my divorce".
Ghazaleh talked about making art and Iranian identities.
David Gregory read his poem "Are we there yet?".
Donna Miles-Mojab talked about love, rejected visas, and being at home in a peaceful country.
Mohamed read his poem "When they ask you were you are from".
Selina had us laughing about breaking up with Captain Cook.
essa, another wonderful poet, read "Where are your bones".
E Wen's poem refrained "the world sleeps in an apple"
We hold out hands between 2 mosques in the city that never sleeps.
And the session ended with the contributors all coming up front and taking a well-deserved hug.
The session was followed by a reception and publisher from Otago University Press Rachel Scott spoke more the making of the book.
Read it! Read it! Read it!
Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We are New Zealand
Visit the Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We are New Zealand website to find out more about the editors and contributors.