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Cook Islands author gets $5000 research grant

Friday 2 September 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Local, National

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Cook Islands author gets $5000 research grant
Kuki Airani Author Maria Samuela recipient of $5,000 research grant to go towards new novel, Kana. Photo: Tagata Pasifika. - 22090110

Kuki Airani novelist Maria Samuela has been awarded a $5000 Research Grant out of four participants in New Zealand for her novel about young Cook Islands women migrating to New Zealand between the 1930s to 1950s.

The grants are allocated to support writers undertaking research for a fiction or nonfiction writing project. 

Maria’s latest project Kana, is currently being developed upon. The novel explores a long and intricate timeline, spanning decades of pacific migration from a pacific women’s perspective, partly inspired by her mothers up upbringing. 

“I’m working on a novel about young Cook Islands women who migrate to Aotearoa in the 1930s to 1950s. My mum came here from Rarotonga in the 1950s. It’d be cool to have a sense of what life might have been like for her when she was a young woman.”

Maria will travel to the Cook Islands to conduct research for the book in her native homeland where her mother grew up. 

“The story of young Cook Island women (and men) who migrated to Aotearoa from the 1930s to the 1950s (is) a significant and often overlooked period of Pacific migration to New Zealand.”

Kana is Maria’s second novel and will be the follow-up to her most recent work, Beats of the Pa‘u, which was released earlier this year in March.  

With a Masters Degree from Victoria University of Wellington, Maria’s work is influenced by her personal experiences and drawn from real historical events. She keeps in mind her Pasifika audiences, and hopes that they too can relate to her books.  

Many of Marias books cater to a wide audience. Wirth publications for children and adults in various languages, like The Secret Game Plan & Other Stories and Ko e ongo tokoua with adult stories appearing in TurbineSport, and Takahē.

In 2018 she was a writer in residence with the Robert Lord Writers’ Cottage Trust and University Bookshop Summer.