Sunday September 15, 2019

If Gods can be gay, why can’t we? Maori author Witi Ihimaera is a moving force in giving voice to Maoris in New Zealand

Ihimaera's book 'Nights in the Gardens of Spain', a semi-autobiographical work about a married father of two daughters coming out, was turned into a movie

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Witi Ihimaera. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

– by Preetha Nair

Sept 04, 2016: Aboriginal, litterateur, and rebel, Witi Ihimaera is a moving force in giving voice to the Maoris in New Zealand. The first published novelist in Maori literature, the 72-year-old has several novels, short stories and recognitions to his credit.

September Aboriginal, litterateur, and rebel, Witi Ihimaera is a moving force in giving voice to the Maoris in New Zealand. The first published novelist in Maori literature, the 72-year-old has several novels, short stories and recognitions to his credit.

His works were a harbinger of change to the Maoris, says Ihimaera who questioned in his works.

Ihimaera’s book ‘Nights in the Gardens of Spain’, a semi-autobiographical work about a married father of two daughters coming out, was turned into a movie.

The author, who also worked as a diplomat at the New ZealandMinistry of Foreign Affairs, spoke to IANS on the sidelines of Mountain Echoes Literary Festival held in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan.

Maori People. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Maori People. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Excerpts from the interview:

Q) You were the first published novelist in Maori literature. How important is it to tell stories of the marginalised?

A) It is important to tell the story of the Maori in a world of huge voices and political entities. We are a minority, and also one among the many indigenous communities around the world. Our story will help give voice to other indigenous people whether they live in India, or North America or in South East Asia. We all have the same stories of colonisation.

Q) Did you face resistance from the West?

A) My life was always about resistance. We were denied educational opportunities and there was institutional racism. Our land has been taken away and I have seen my grandmothers struggling for land to farm. The consequence of our fight through literature and other means was that our land was returned after 30 years. The government is providing better housing and education for the Maoris now. There is a better understanding of Maori culture now and my work is a part of New Zealand’s curriculum.

Q) You came out of the closet in 1984 and have dealt with sexuality in your writings. How was it received?

A) One has to be brave when dealing with issues like rape and homosexuality. There is authentication of sexual identity in mythology that has been denied by the West. Europeans look towards Gods in Greek mythology who can shapeshift and make love with women, men and animals just like some Hindu gods. Why can’t we accept homosexuality in the way our mythology explains it? I operate in a Maori value system and don’t care what people say.

Witi Ihimaera memorial plaque in Dunedin. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Witi Ihimaera memorial plaque in Dunedin. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Q) In your memoir, you have written about being abused as a child. How difficult was it to write about it and what was the reaction?

A) I always adopt an organic approach to writing, looking at it culturally and socially. I wanted to address the issue of child abuse. My work has always been a shock to many. The Maori community is now largely Christian and it was difficult for them to acknowledge it. I am accustomed to shift the universe a little. That’s my theory of change. Each one of us has the power to change the system.

Q) Who’s your favourite Indian author?

A) It should be Arundhati Roy. She is an intellectual and erudite woman.

(IANS)

  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not abnormal it is just our choice of sexuality and the sooner we understand this, the better it is. Art and literature are the best means to spread awareness about such issues.

  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not abnormal, it is just a choice of sexuality by an individual and the sooner we realize this the better it is for mankind. Art and literature is probably the best way to spread awareness about issues like this.

  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not a sin and art and literature is the best away to create awareness regarding such issues.

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    this article is a great read. To get to know an author who has been through so much.

SHARE
  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not abnormal it is just our choice of sexuality and the sooner we understand this, the better it is. Art and literature are the best means to spread awareness about such issues.

  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not abnormal, it is just a choice of sexuality by an individual and the sooner we realize this the better it is for mankind. Art and literature is probably the best way to spread awareness about issues like this.

  • Arya Sharan

    Homosexuality is not a sin and art and literature is the best away to create awareness regarding such issues.

  • Anubhuti Gupta

    this article is a great read. To get to know an author who has been through so much.

Next Story

New Zealand To Decriminalize Abortion Through Reform Bill

Abortion to be considered a health issue and not a crime, proposed in new reform bill in New Zealand

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Abortion decriminalised in new zealand
Abortion is a crime in New Zealand till now and the government is working to scrape that law. Pixabay

The New Zealand government on Monday announced a bill to decriminalize abortion so that it can be treated as a health issue, rather than a crime.

The reform bill proposes removing any statutory medical exam for women not more than 20 weeks into their pregnancy and includes the setting up of “safe areas” near abortion facilities to prevent women from being harassed or attacked, Efe news quoted Justice Minister Andrew Little as saying in a statement.

“Safe abortion should be treated and regulated as a health issue; a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body,” Little said.

“Abortion is the only medical procedure that is still a crime in New Zealand. It’s time for this to change.”

New Zealand announces bill to decriminalize abortion
A new bill proposes to decriminalize abortion in New Zealand. Pixabay

The bill, which will have its first reading in the New Zealand parliament on Thursday, also requires a health practitioner to authorize women who are more than 20 weeks pregnant to terminate the pregnancy if it poses a risk to their mental and physical health as well as their wellbeing.

Also Read: 40-Year-Old Woman Suffering from Breast Cancer Delivers Baby through IVF Method

It also proposes that doctors opposed to providing abortion services on the grounds of conscience must inform pregnant women, who may seek services elsewhere, as well as that women be able to self-refer to a service provider, and health practitioners will advise women of counselling services available.

Currently, abortion is considered a crime in New Zealand, although women can terminate their pregnancies if two doctors consider it advisable for physical and mental health reasons. (IANS)