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Hone Tuwhare
(New Zealand, 1922–2008)   
 
 
 
Hone  Tuwhare

Hone Tuwhare, a Maori-poet, was born in Kaikohe, in northern New Zealand. When he was six years old, his mother died and his father took him to Auckland. They lived there in a tin shack, with an earthen floor, but Tuwhare remembers it as ‘marvelous’.

In the beginning Tuwhare spoke only the Maori language at home. Afterward his father would speak only English with him, wanting to encourage his son’s success at the English-speaking schools. He didn’t go to college however, because his father could not afford it.

At age seventeen Tuwhare went to work at the railway workshops as a boilermaker. He became a fully certified boilermaker and a member of the union, where he was recruited into the Communist party. He resigned from that party in 1956 when the Russians invaded Hungary.

Tuwhare wrote his first poem when he heard that his father had died. He was already 42 years old when he published his first book, No ordinary sun. At the end of the nineties his collected poems were published, entitled Deep river talk (University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu).

Tuwhare’s work has been called a mixture of working class language, the bible and Maori korero (narratives), ‘as if you are in church and in the pub at the same time.’

In 1999 Hone Tuwhare was named New Zealand's poet laureate.

© J. Eijkelboom (Translated by Ko Kooman)

[Hone Tuwhare took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2000. This text was written on that occasion.]

Publications (selection):
No Ordinary Sun (1964); Come Rain, Hail (1970); Sapwood and Milk (1972); Something Nothing (1974); Making a Fist of It (1978); Selected Poems (1980); Year of the Dog. Poems New and Selected (1982); Mihi. Collected Poems (1987); Short Back & Sideways (1992); Deep River Talk. Collected Poems (1993).

 




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