Qiane Matata-Sipu. Photo / Supplied

How Novel! 6 Books That Made An Impression On Qiane Matata-Sipu

The author chooses books to empower and inspire all wahine

Qiane Matata-Sipu spent three years working on NUKU: Stories of 100 Indigenous Women. Her self-described passion project and legacy publication is a far-spanning cultural record, a vessel of storytelling from musicians to scientists, artists and entrepreneurs on connection, and was shortlisted for this year's Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. In its wake, Matata-Sipu isn't slowing down, now studying full time, total immersion te reo Māori.

A book I couldn’t put down
Unbound: My Story of Liberation and the Birth of the Me Too Movement by Tarana Burke. This memoir of Tarana’s lived experience as a black woman who reeled from her sexual assaults is both painful and powerful. Her's is a story that too many black and brown girls relate to, and her journey serves as a pathway to finding that inner strength and healing for others. It is incredibly written and has you hanging off every word, ending with a lesson of forgiveness and growth we can all learn from.

A book that changed my perspective
Taniwha by Robyn Kahukiwa. This pukapuka is a childhood favourite that I now read to my daughter. When I was young it changed my perspective about what was most valuable in this world — not materialistic things, but the taonga we receive from Papatūānuku, Tangaroa and Ranginui — a reflection of our taiao, our wider environment. Today, it helps me to continue teaching those values to my kōtiro and irāmutu.

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A book that influenced my writing practice
Mana Whenua by Sarah Hudson. This book documents a group of contemporary Māori artists who participated in the Mana Whenua project  an art and mātauranga exchange that saw Sarah hand-gather earth pigment from the whenua of Ngāti Awa, Whakatōhea and Ngāi Tūhoe and disperse to 11 wāhine who were asked to create a postcard painted with the pigment, write about their practice, and return it back to Sarah. I am always inspired by kickass Indigenous wāhine and the sharing of Mātauranga Māori, Mātauranga Wāhine and the intergenerational sharing of collective wisdom.

A book I gift to friends
NUKU: Stories of 100 Indigenous Women by Qiane Matata-Sipu. I think this might be a bit self-explanatory, but I gift my friends the book I spent three years of my life compiling. It is a koha filled with aroha to empower and inspire all wāhine.

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A book I wish I had read sooner
Te Wheke: A Celebration of Infinite Wisdom by Dr Rangimarie Rose Pere. I think many of us are familiar with the whare tapa whā model for wellbeing but Whaea Rangimarie talks about eight dimensions of wellbeing and development that includes ha taonga tuku iho, mauri and ranga whatumanawa as oranga indicators. The impact this mātauranga has on my sense of identity is affirming, we are so privileged to have access to such Indigenous knowledge and practice that provides the blueprint for living well.

A book that’s underrated
Mauri Ola, Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English – Whetu Moana II, edited by Albert Wendt, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan. The anthology has 81 incredible poets including Sia Figiel, Aroha Harris, Karlo Mila and the late Haunani-Kay Trask, and discusses colonisation, reclamation, sexism, culture and more from a staunchly Polynesian worldview. One of my favourite poems from the book is Our tīpuna remain by Jacqueline Carter.

NUKU: Stories of 100 Indigenous Women by Qiane Matata-Sipu ($65) is available from Nukuwomen.co.nz

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