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Strike out what doesn’t apply: Māori / Pākehā / Irish ….

Our identity as New Zealanders swirls and shifts and two writers have been exploring some of our very different roots.

When the All Blacks were welcomed on to Patricia Grace’s home marae at Plimmerton to learn first-hand about their haka, she saw a strong recognition of different cultures and a sense of pride in themselves as New Zealand men. It hasn’t always been like this. Her latest novel Chappy looks at a young man of both Māori and European ancestry who finds he has a Japanese grandfather. The book explores racial intolerance, cross-cultural conflicts and the universal desire to belong.

Patricia is one of our major writers, of Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa, Te Āti Awa and Irish descent and affiliated to Ngāti Porou by marriage. She began writing while teaching and raising her seven children, and has since won many awards, including the Deutz Medal for Fiction, and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. In 2005 she was honoured as an Arts Icon.

Tina Makereti is of a younger generation. Her book Where the Rēkohu Bone Sings explores the complexity of being Moriori, Māori and Pākehā and of finding a place of belonging. Tina is of Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto, Pākehā, and according to family stories, Moriori descent.