Helen Margaret Waaka ( Ngāti Whātua, Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Torehina) completed a short course in creative writing at the Eastern Institute of technology (EIT) in Hawkes Bay in her early fifties and soon realised she’d been writing stories in her head for years. In 2011 she completed a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing at Whitireia New Zealand. In the same year she won the English-language short story section of the Pikihuia Awards with her story ‘Hineraumati’ and in 2012 received a New Zealand Society of Authors mentorship. The following year her novel extract ‘Eva’ was ‘highly commended’ in the Pikihuia awards. Her debut short story collection ‘Waitapu’, published in 2015 by Escalator Press, became one of two finalists in the Te Tuhinga Auaha category of the Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Awards in 2016. The same year she appeared as a guest speaker at the Going West Books and Writers festival in Titirangi and at several nursing conferences and women’s group gatherings in Hawkes Bay, Auckland and Waikato. Her short stories have been published in the Huia 9,10 and 11 short story collections and in Ngā Hau e Wha - Stories on the Four Winds. Helen has been awarded a 2018 Michael King emerging Māori writers residency and is pleased to be considered an emerging writer at her age. ‘It suggests my writing life is only just beginning.’ She intends consolidating and progressing her current work, ‘Still Waters,’ a novel and sequel to ‘Waitapu,’ during the two-week residency. Helen has a Bachelor of Nursing and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Women’s Health. Many of her stories draw on her experience as a nurse and women’s health practitioner, exploring issues such as the lifelong impact of childhood family violence. Helen has an ongoing interest in te reo and tikanga Māori, and has completed several courses at EIT, Hawkes Bay and Te Wananga o Raukawa, Otaki. Helen currently works part time as a nurse in Hawke’s Bay.
- Emails from Helen Waaka 15 Dec 2017, 23 Jan and 17 Feb 2018.
- "Hineraumati." Huia Short Stories 9. Huia Publishers, 2011.
- "Hineraumati." Huia Short Stories 9. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia Publishers, 2011.
- "Obsession with Katherine." Huia Short Stories 9. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia Publishers, 2011.
- "Staying Alive." Huia Short Stories 10. Huia Publishers, 2013.
- "Eva." Huia Short Stories 10. Huia Publishers, 2013.
- Waitapu. Porirua, N.Z.: Escalator Press, 2015.
- This collection of inter-connected short stories became one of two finalists in the Te Tuhinga Auaha category of the Ngā Kupu Ora Māori book awards in 2016.
- "Eyes of God." Huia Short Stories 11. Huia Publishers, 2015.
- "The Apology." Ngā Hau e Whā - Stories on the Four Winds. Eds. Brian Bargh and Robyn Bargh. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia, 2016.
- This collection of short stories won the Te Tuhinga Auaha Award in 2017.