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waha | mouth

Grief, death, infertility – Hinemoana Baker confronts a personal and societal darkness in this new collection of poems but does so with surprising humour and with an eye that seeks out the unlikely image, an ear that forces us to hear afresh the strangeness in our everyday language.

‘I’d like to think that opening this book to read is like standing at the mouth of a cave, or a river, or a grave, with a candle in your hand.’ – Hinemoana Baker

'To Baker, words are more than aggregates of letters. There is the ‘veritable killer whale of a word’, the word marked by its ‘refusal to speak English’, and there are words unsaid – the ‘gag’ and the ‘mute’." –  Booksellers NZ

"This exquisite collection is not so much a symphony but a set of partitas for solo violin. Individual notes (words) resonate and linger in the ear as if to make aural chords (connections): ‘a parliament of owls, all palms but mine — bone dry, mouth full of sky and counting.’ In this example, the linking consonants, assonance and near rhyme make chords that register in a subterranean way (sky-mine, mouth-owls, owl-full, parliament-palms, but-bone). Hinemoana’s musicianship extends to the composition as a whole with its shifting tones and pitches." – Paula Green, NZ Poetry Bookshelf

"It's so hard to write the poem of grief or absence, to make it approachable and fresh, and not to push the reader too hard to feel the deep upwelling ugly thing. 'candle' is powerful for its restraint and its ranging unexpectedness. For its cavernous, versatile waha that does everything except cry." – Mary McCallum, Tuesday Poem

'Her astute ear means the work is studded with acoustic chimes, some of which are laugh-out-loud funny, like end-rhyming masturbation with “concentration"...The candle flickers and the images move; the river talks; the cave whispers. The longer you stand at the waha/mouth, the more you hear.' – Sue Wootton, Takahē

kōiwi kōiwi | bone bone

In this compelling second collection from one of New Zealand’s most exciting rising poets, Hinemoana Baker amplifies what’s usually whispered, magnifies the microscopic and x-rays the mundane.

'I see this poetic spine as made of musical notes, silence, a generous revelation of the personal and a creative use of found material. Each poem is not an exercise in what words can do but is a carefully crafted lyric that sings small parts of the world into shimmering life.

'Baker is inspired by poets as diverse as Teresia Teaiwa (Fiji), Elizabeth Smither (New Zealand) and Simon Armitage (Britain). She watches a documentary on soldiers at Gallipoli and borrows lines from their letters. She uses her partner's exam paper on Electronic Music Theory and Analysis to represent a home birth. Her poems are graceful, thoughtful and melodic. They are also twisty, stretching and unexpected. I loved this collection.' Paula Green, New Zealand Herald

'This [second] collection delivers more poems of praise, love and gratitude. She takes nothing for granted in her work and as a result is exciting and innovative. Poems about mess and distress still sparkle...She is a restless poet who uses language to be snappy and funny.' Hamish Wyatt, Otago Daily Times

mātuhi | needle

In 'mātuhi | needle', Hinemoana Baker's debut collection, there are poems of praise, love and gratitude. Words, phrases and cultural concepts in the Māori world are given a new life via her love and recovery of Te Reo [the Māori language] - which can be translated as 'the voice'. Other poems are inscribed with the sordid and the badly behaved, or admit to feelings of inadequacy and avoidance. Some reflect a history of personal and political invasion and occupation. All are alive with grace, intellect and control.

The sumptuous design of 'mātuhi | needle' is one of its most extraordinary features - though not one reflected in the price. The book comes in a hardcover, square format, with full-colour illustrations by Ngāi Tahu artist Jenny Rendall. A compact disc featuring six poems and a song, performed by Hinemoana, is included.

This stunning production is due to an unusual publishing collaboration: 'mātuhi | needle' was co-published by Victoria University Press (Wellington, NZ) and Perceval Press (Santa Monica, USA). Perceval is the publishing house of actor, poet, musician, artist and 'Lord of the Rings' star Viggo Mortensen. Viggo and his team designed, produced and printed the book, while VUP dealt with the text-related aspects of the publication. The result is something most first-time poets can only dream of: a hard-cover, fully illustrated, art-conscious design, where the poems sit spaciously with the paintings, each bringing the other to life. The addition of sound - the CD in the back pocket - brings the dimension of Hinemoana's gorgeous voice to the mix.

'The needle I find myself thinking of is the kind one might find in a compass. That needle is one which helps you locate your position in the present, but also helps you navigate your way into the future. So if I had to do a summing up, I'd say Hinemoana's book is one that works as a kind of aid to navigation - for her and her readers. A very cheap and handsome Global Positioning System… I don't think there'll be a better book in terms of physical beauty or value for money published in New Zealand this year. But I don't think there'll be a better book of individual poems adding up to something more than themselves either.’ – Prof. Bill Manhire

'Hinemoana Baker…in her debut collection 'mātuhi | needle' plucks at the plangent chords of biculturalism and its discontents. 'mātuhi | needle' is a joint publication with actor-poet Viggo Mortensen's California-based Perceval Press…Baker, it transpires, came to Mortensen's attention at a Wellington poetry reading, and a CD recording of Baker reading a few of her poems is pocketed in the back of the book. It reveals that she has a remarkable voice, velvety and musical, cool and laconic all at once…Baker is attuned to the arch…she reconjugates the obvious, making it surprising all over again…' – David Eggleton, The New Zealand Listener

kaupapa: new zealand poets, world issues


Edited, selected and introduced by writer and musician Hinemoana Baker and activist and writer Maria McMillan, this stunning anthology features new, established and award-winning poets including Bill Manhire, Tusiata Avia, Airini Beautrais, Michele Amas, Jenny Bornholdt, CK Stead, James Brown and Roma Potiki. Speaking to the tradition of waiata tawhito, war poetry, redemption songs and resistance, Kaupapa showcases what happens when our poets take on the world.


'Poets from Aotearoa take on the world. Enormous issues bevelled down to small, shining things. A sackful of hand grenades and fireflies...'


A limited number of copies of 'Kaupapa', including group sets, are available by emailing Hinemoana directly.




Hinemoana's writing also features in the following anthologies:

  • Transit of Venus | Venustransit (Victoria University Press, 2016)
  • Shenandoah (The Washington and Lee University Review), Volume 62, No. 2 – Lesley Wheeler (ed.), February 2013
  • The Auckland University Press Anthology of New Zealand Literature – Jane Stafford and Mark Williams (eds.), Auckland University Press (2012)
  • The Best of Best New Zealand Poems – Bill Manhire and Damien Wilkins (eds.), Victoria University Press, (2011)
  • 99 Ways Into New Zealand Poetry - Paula Green and Harry Ricketts (eds.), Random House New Zealand, (2010)
  • Best New Zealand Poems – online anthology (2004, 2006, 2008, 2010)
  • Landfall – literary magazine, Otago University Press (2009)
  • SPORT– literary magazine, Victoria University Press (2002-2009)
  • Turbine – Institute of Modern Letters onine literary journal, Victoria University of Wellington (2003, 2004, 2007)
  • Trout 13 / Tinfish 16 – University of Auckland / University of Hawai’i (2007)
  • Yellow Medicine Review – South West Minnesota State University literary journal (2007)
  • Great Sporting Moments – The Best of SPORT Magazine –  Damien Wilkins (ed.), Victoria University Press (2005)
  • Mutes and Earthquakes –Bill Manhire (ed), Victoria University Press (1997)
  • Te Ao Mārama 5 – Witi Ihimaera (ed.), Reed Books (1996)
  • Zimbabwe Women Writers – public readings chapbook, ZWW Publications (1990)