Waitapu

Written by Helen Margaret Waaka                                     Published by Escalator Press

Waitapu.  A small town with a host of characters – sisters, Rowena and Ruby, Anna, Mereata, Harriet, Anna, George Paku and Nathan, to name a few. Sometimes they’re the main character, sometimes a minor character but at other times they’re just a mention or a memory in someone else’s mind or someone else’s story.  We meet these characters at different stages of their lives, when they mistreat their daughters, when a stroke fells them, when they reunite with whānau, when they return to their hau kāinga.  

Waitapu takes us behind the façade of the characters lives as the social worker, as the rebellious teenage daughter, as the old woman with alzheimers, as the kōroua going out to catch eels with his hīnaki, at the same time catching his mokopuna in the net called whānau. We’re with them the moment their lives change, when they feel the breath of their tīpuna, when an old man dies and when babies are born. We see these characters survive and flourish despite periods of despair. We see their anger and forgiveness, their love and whānau connection.   

Waitapu is a collection of connected short stories set in a small rural town. Helen wrote the first draft while completing a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Whitirieia in 2011 and further drafts over the next two years under the mentorship of tutor, Mandy Hager. Waitapu was published in 2015 by Escalator Press and went on to become a finalist in the Ngā Kupu Ora Māori book awards in 2016.