mātuhi | needle
Many cultures converge and challenge each other in the poetry of Hinemoana Baker - most obviously, her parents' Māori and Pākehā ancestries. The need to belong - to the extended and nuclear family - is at odds with the equally pressing need to be an individual in the world.
In 'mātuhi | needle', her debut collection, there are poems of praise, love and gratitude. Words, phrases and cultural concepts in the Māori world are given new and different life via her love and recovery of Te Reo - 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: 'matuhi' 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 added dimension of Hinemoana's gorgeous voice to the mix.
Published by Victoria University Press, Wellington (2004)
'mātuhi | needle' is available from all good New Zealand bookstores - RRP NZ$29.95.
If you're in the Northern Hemisphere, you can buy it from from the Perceval Press website.
If you live near Kāpiti, you can also buy it from Lush Design Gallery, 18 Raumati Road, Kapiti Coast
and from The Beach Store, The Parade, Paekākāriki, Kapiti Coast