The Writers in Schools programme features a list of over 200 authors that schools can invite to speak free of charge.

With so few Māori authors on their list, their newest recruit hopes to inspire some change and gains his place amongst masters of literature like Witi Ihimaera.

The NZ Book Council has been running the Writers in Schools project for over 40 years in a bid to get more kids reading, and Te Kahu Rolleston is the programme's newest recruit.

“Āe, he hōnore nui tērā. Ko te ngako o tērā kaupapa kia wātea te ara kia taea e ngā kaituhi ki te kuhu atu ki ngā kura, ki reira koha ai, ki reira hoatu ai i ngā pūkenga ki te hunga rangatahi kia taea e rātou ēnei pūkenga, ne - ki te tuhi, ki te whakaputa i ō rātou kare ā-roto, mā te pēnē, mā te tuhi, mā te kupu.”

The young Ngāi Te Rangi poet says he was surprised by the invite, but he's happy that schools no longer have to foot the bill for his visits.

“Ko taku mahi he tae atu, he kai i ā rātou kai, he pahupahu, he katakata noa iho taku mahi, nō reira ki ahau nei, kāore he tika kia utu mai ngā kura mō ēnā mahi, engari mā tēnei, mā te NZ Book Council e utu.”

The latest available NZQA stats show that while stats of students passing literacy is up, Māori achievement in literacy is still behind by about 10%.

Council spokesperson Kathryn Carmody says they been wanting to include more Māori authors and young authors for a while in the hopes of attracting more young Māori to the written word.

“It's really important to keep that love of reading and story-telling and things like that alive in the older students. Grabbing someone that can really speak to them like Te Kahu, who I think will be able to. He's going to be a real asset to our programme. I expect him to be really popular. We have a few that are in hot demand. We definitely need more Māori authors on the programme.”

Rolleston also adds that it’s his opportunity to set an example for the next generation.

“Ki te whakaaro au mō ngā tangata o runga, kāore he tāngata pērā i a au, he tangata nanakia pea, nā reira āe, i te āhua āwangawanga au, engari i te āta whakaaro ahau, i kōrero au ki tōku whānau, i whakatau au me tae atu au kia kitea e te hunga rangatahi ka taea e mātou, ngā tāngata pēnei ki te tu pērā. Āna.”

Raising the next generation of authors. 

LIKE