Poetry a cultural collaboration

Twelve Heavens, Doce Cielos, a poetry book launched on 12 May 2016, is a ground-breaking cultural collaboration between Aotearoa’s Latin American community and tangata whenua.

The poems are written in English, Te Reo and Spanish by eight Māori poets.  The book is illustrated by Tūhoe artist Tame Iti and published by Auckland’s Letras Latinas Publishing House.

This unique publication is thought to be the first book of Māori literature translated into both Spanish and English. It’s also the first of three cultural collaborations between Auckland’s Latin American community and Māori.

“It’s all part of the conversation,” says Tame Iti who talks about the twelve heavens as different levels of consciousness.

“It’s important to reach the top and create ripples that go across the universe to every corner of the world, to create a united front, shaped and formed of words.”

The other two cultural collaborations are a documentary about Tame Iti’s gallery in Taneatua and a short film about a Spanish speaking tipuna which is currently in production.

One of the contributors is writer, filmmaker and visual artist Tracey Tawhiao (Ngāi te Rangi, Whakatōhea, Tūwharetoa).

“Poetry is a soul language and it’s a privilege to have my poetry in English translated into Māori and Spanish because both are soul languages too,” she says.

Chilean poet and member of Letras Latinas, Esteban Espinoza says Twelve Heavens, Doce Cielos offers Latin Americans an opportunity to see Te Ao Māori through poetry.

“We have so much in common with Māori.  The Māori myth of twelve heavens, for example, has its counterpart in the Mayan mythology.  But more fundamentally, we share a view that what we see through our eyes is the just the tip of the iceberg.”

You can buy a copy of the book for $20 from the Letras Latinas library in Onehunga or by ringing 021 0227 8572.  The book will also be available online at a later date (watch this space!)

Twelve Heavens, Doce Cielos features the work of:
Isaac James Bishara
Ngatai Huata
Vicent Olsen-Reeder
Kiri Piahana-Wong
Vaughan Rapatahana
Iriaka Stevens
Tracey Tawhiao
Kirsten Te Rito