Residency day seven, high on Takarunga (Mount Victoria) Devonport. It’s late afternoon and I’m looking west through the studio window between the lilies and the flax bushes. The sun glints on the endless stream of traffic on the Auckland Harbour Bridge and I’m so glad not to be part of all that, well not for another week anyway.
Routines are established and productive, and what a magical experience to date. Incredibly dark, silent nights with deep, dreamless sleep. Cool mornings with dappled light and shade, sea breezes and bird song. Feed the tiny cat and walk to the summit with the fitness folk. Breakfast and MNZ history talk with co-writer Jenny. Delightful ferry crossings to the research libraries. Up the hill again with groceries from that charming village. Back into the golden studio. Watch the tuis on the flax flowers and reflect again on the terrible events that decimated the once thriving population on this maunga.
It’s a privilege to be working in such a beautifully restored and maintained house and writers’ studio. It’s also a pleasure to see this sanctuary in constant use by other writers. The house photos remind me each day that these NZ writers too, confronted (and overcame) the types of writing challenges confronting me. This unique setting is a fitting tribute to Michael King and to the trustees.
This residency has enabled me to continue researching and editing a NZ history anthology ‘The Maori Captivity Narratives: Twenty First Hand Accounts.’ The work describes the captivity experiences and the cross cultural adaptations made by fourteen Pakeha males and six females seized by iwi between North Cape and Stewart Island between 1806 and 1884. These largely unpublished captivity narratives provide valuable ‘inside’ accounts of Maori lifeways and customs during the contact and settlement eras.