Hinemoana Baker was born in Ōtautahi/Christchurch and educated at St Joseph’s Primary School, Whakatane; Trident High School, Whakatane; and Waimea College in Nelson. She studied at Canterbury University and Victoria University, graduating with a B.A. in Māori and Women’s Studies and a Diploma in Māoritanga. She attended an ARVON writing course at Lumb Bank in England in 1991, and Bill Manhire’s Creative Writing Course at Victoria University in 1994. Her main area of work is writing and performance, and she writes waiata, poetry, short stories, plays, children’s writing, “stories for telling”, and book reviews. She has written short film scripts for Lisa Reihana’s installation at Te Papa which opened in February 1998. Hinemoana has written two plays which were produced by Taki Rua Theatre: Māua Tāua, a play produced in 1995 about the pains and processes of learning Māori as a second language learner, and Pūkeko Tuawhā or Pūkeko IV, a science fiction play written in Māori and produced in 1997. For about six months in 1996-97 Hinemoana toured with a group called Te Tōrino to Masterton, Whakatane and the Bay of Islands performing in summer arts festivals. Hinemoana performed her own stories and adapted stories from other indigenous traditions.
Her recent focus is on writing and performing her own songs and poems, which she presents in a multi-media, cabaret-type format with live sound and image mixing. She is working on her second collection of poetry, provisionally titled ‘What the Destination Has to Offer’. The projected publishing date for this collection is April/May 2009. In 2007 she co-edited a collection of political poetry called Kaupapa: New Zealand poets, world issues,and initiated the ‘Tau Mai e Kapiti’ Māori writer’s residency on Kapiti Island – the first residency of it’s kind in the country. In 2008 she produced and created the sound design for an album of ‘docu-poetry’ by Kiribati, Banaban, African American poet and scholar Teresia Teaiwa.
In her writing she tries to bring a “message of tino rangātiratanga by telling people’s authentic stories in a way that’s open and, sometimes, hopefully funny”. In 1998 she was one of four writers selected for the Māori writers panel at the International Festival of the Arts in Wellington. In 2002 she completed an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University. In 2005 she was part of the New Zealand group of writers that participated in the Honouring Words International Indigenous Authors Celebration Tour which toured from Northland to Wellington. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 she was a member of Te Ha’s On the Bus Māori Writers Tours and Words on Wheels in 2006. She participated in the 2006 International Arts Festival as part of ‘Readers and writers’ and also as part of “Tuwhare” which was also performed at AK07. She also participated at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festical in Bali, Indonesia, and the Queensland Poetry Festival in Brisbane in 2006.
"Hinemoana Baker was appointed 2009 Arts Queensland Poet in Residence, spending three months in Brisbane and travelling the outback. As part of the residency she produced an audio poem called 'Gondwanavista', a CD featuring spoken text and field recordings of outback locations. Hinemoana Baker was selected to attend the prestigious International Writing Program (IWP) at the University of Iowa in 2010.
Her second book of poetry, koiwi koiwi | bone bone (Victoria University Press), was published in 2010. In a review in the New Zealand Herald Paula Green wrote that Baker’s collection is ‘held together by an effective spine which gives the poems individual and collective strength’ and that within themselves the poems are ‘are graceful, thoughtful and melodic’ while also ‘twisty, stretching and unexpected.’
Baker was the Victoria University of Wellington/Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence for 2014 at the International Institute of Modern Letters.
waha | mouth (Victoria University Press), released in 2014, is Hinemoana Baker’s third collection of poems. With an emphasis on resilience and humour, the book explores grief, death and infertility. Poet and reviewer Paula Green described waha | mouth as tremendous. She praised the accessibility and scope of the collection, writing that ‘Hinemoana’s poems are anchored in the real world yet her poetic melodies remind you that there are other layers of reality embedded here, layers that sing and tremble in the candle light – joy, pain, recognition, trust, narratives that we inherit and carry with us.’
David Eggleton, writing for the Landfall Review Online, was impressed by the freshness and innovativeness of Baker’s collection. He stated that, ‘she does a metaphorical cartwheel and this 360-degree turn then allows her to discover her environment anew, alive with fresh possibilities.’
In 2015, Baker taught creative writing workshops for undergraduate students at the International Institute for Modern Letters.
Over 2015-2016, Baker took up the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers’ Residency, which enables a writer to work for six months in the German capital.
Baker is one of six German and New Zealand poets to contribute to the collection Transit of Venus, published by Victoria University Press in February 2016. The poets’
voices collide in their joint experience of the astrological event, which famously marked Captain Cook’s first encounter with Maori 250 years ago. Booksellers NZ reviewer Melanie Whitwer said of Transit of Venus: “What we have here is a voyage of discovery, an experience of proximity and distance in time, space and language. A connection forged between two continents. May it persist and prosper”."
- Emails, correspondence, phone conversation and meetings with Hinemoana Baker, August and October 1997 on 9 Aug. 1998, 30 Mar. 2007, 20 Mar. and 14 Apr. 2008.
http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writers/bakerhinemoana.html#a732 2 September 2016