Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

New Anthology ‘Katūīvei’ Celebrates the Vibrant Diversity of Pasifika Poetry in Aotearoa

Photo: Wellington City Libraries
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Kendall Vano | Reporter

As Rotuman language kicks off the start of Pacific language week celebrations, it’s a perfect time for the release of the new anthology, “Katūīvei: contemporary Pasifika poetry from across Aotearoa.” 

Co- editor of “Katūīvei” David Eggleton remembers when the journey began in 2020 before the Covid pandemic for the creation of” The Contemporary Pasifika Poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand” a new anthology featuring the works of Pasifika poets. 

The collection, co-edited by Mere Taito and Vaughan Rapatahana, aimed at capturing the essence of Pasifika voices.

David and Mere also share a common heritage in their Rotuman roots. Eggleton describes how the team worked hard behind the scenes, showcasing the difficult decisions of the selection process out of hundreds of Pasifika poets.

 “It took quite a while to agree on the poets and the specific poems,” he explained. “We tried to get the flavour of what’s been happening in Pasifika poetry in the past ten years.”

“Katūīvei” seeks to honour the legacy of earlier collections while offering a fresh perspective on Pasifika poetry. 

David Eggleton. Photo: (elements) Cultural Icons + Wellington City Libraries.

Eggleton says, “We saw ourselves as kind of following on from Albert Wendt, Rena Whaitiri, and Robert Sullivan… We decided to pick up the trail and write about what has been happening in Pasifika poetry.”

Taito highlighted the anthology’s aim to celebrate the diversity and depth of Pasifika poetry. 

“That’s what we try to honour in this book—to represent the diversity, the depth, and the exciting, interesting poetry of the past decade,” she said. “The main thing is that it’s for everyone.”

Featuring renowned Pasifika poets like Tusiata Avia, Karlo Mila, and Selina Tusitala Marsh, alongside emerging voices, “Katūīvei” explores a wide range of themes from traditional stories to contemporary issues like mental health and multiculturalism. 

Co-editors Mere Taito, David Eggleton and Vaughan Rapatahana. Photo: Massey University Press FB.

Kiki Brown, one of the contributors, utilises unconventional formats inspired by tattoo patterns and visual art to create rhythm and structure in her poems. Eggleton described Brown’s work as “the art of tattoo design,” highlighting her innovative approach.

Taito drew attention to Pelenakeke Brown’s piece, “Crossing,” praising its experimental nature.

 “Her keyboard practice is fabulous…the interplay between graphics, text, and space gives us a glimpse of her experimentative practice,” says Taito.

Taito expressed excitement about the anthology’s boundary-pushing nature, praising the creativity of contributors like Robert Hack. Reflecting on Hack’s prose/flash poem, she said, “It was like reading a possible flashback.” 

Adding a touch of humour, Taito imagined her father’s reaction to the anthology, humorously envisioning him “marching back to the store, and possibly with a rolling pin too.”

Katūīvei: Contemporary Pasifika Poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand, can now be purchased online at Massey Press.

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