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People of the Water Coastal Reflections and Poems from Mohua Golden Bay
Helen McKinlay is a published poet with a long history in the promotion of poetry and poets via local radio, live poets groups, Tuesday Poem International Poetry Collective, and her own blog, gurglewords. Her children’s books include the bestselling ‘Grandma’ picture books. Grandma’s Kiwi Christmas was the subject of Smith and Caughey’s famous Christmas windows in 2013, and in 2018, Grandma Joins the All Blacks was listed in the Booksellers Top 20 Bestsellers of the Decade.
People of the Water is a celebration of her love for the sea and the completion of her ‘Poem on a Boulder’ environmental arts project at Rototai Beach. In this collection, we read of how the sea was a constant in her North Island childhood – from the intricacies of family holidays at the beach, to glimpses from a train. She tells of her growing appreciation of coastal Aotearoa (New Zealand), its islands and its cultural heritage. She reflects on how time spent on other far distant coastlines gave her a new realisation of what it means to be a Pākehā/New Zealand woman, and led her to settle in the Top of the South. “Old Scarry” the local dolphin, Germans and Hoihos, Captain Cook’s mistakes, the “restless bones” of past battles, and her admiration for those who came “so very far in tiny sailing ships and carved canoes,” are all here. And on a half quirky but also half serious note, she resolves a long term relationship with Te Rauparaha over a cup of tea. Helen says this book contains much that is personal, much whimsical, and much that ponders the role of kaitiakitanga or guardianship we New Zealanders have to a coastline which not only embraces us but connects us to the rest of the world.
Jane Carswell, award winning author of Under the Huang Jiao Tree: Two Journeys in China, comments “Here are the poems we’ve been waiting for, those of us on these skinny islands who share Helen’s ‘love affair with the coastline of Aotearoa New Zealand’ but are mute, waiting for someone to sing our love songs for us and in our own voice – tender but strong – but with humour sharp enough to shell a scallop. At last we have this treasury from a poet who stands with us…”
Published by Mohua Press, February 2020. Length 62 pages. This book is now available to buy at the printer,The Copy Press Nelson. Wheelers is stocking it for supply to schools and libraries. It is also available on Fishpond, or ask at any good bookshop…just quote the ISBN number below.
ISBN number 978-0-473-50862-3.
For those who live in Golden Bay, People of the Water is available from
Pohutukawa Gallery, Take Note Bookshop and Golden Bay Information Centre. Also obtainable from the publisher; email – email@example.com