Talia Marshall

Whaea Blue

210mm x 138mm
Publication date:
8 August 2024

Available for pre-order only. Available from 8 August 2024

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Polly and Wiki and all the other kuia ride on the roof of Kerry’s Toyota Corona with its navy blistered bonnet . . . They do this for all the moko; they are everywhere and roam inside us as they keep weaving the net and it’s no small thing that only a few slip through.

Time and whakapapa slowly unravel as Talia Marshall weaves her way across Aotearoa in a roster of decaying European cars. Along the way she will meet her father, pick up a ghost, transform into a wharenui, and make cocktail hour with Ans Westra.

Men will come – Roman, Ben, Isaac – and some go. Others linger. And it is these men – her father, Paul, and grandfathers Mugwi Macdonald and Jim; her tīpuna Nicola Sciascia, tohunga Kipa Hemi Whiro, Kupe himself – who she observes as she moves backwards into the future. With her ancestor Tūtepourangi she relives Te Rauparaha’s bloody legacy, and attempts and fails to write her great historical novel.

But it is her wāhine, past and present, who carry her, even as the ground behind her smoulders.

Tempestuous and haunting, Whaea Blue is a tribute to collective memory, the elasticity of self, and the women we travel through. It is a karanga to and from the abyss. It is a journey to peace.

‘This is a wild road trip, frightening and funny. You can taste all the food, see all the ghosts, hear the ancestors. It’s a masterclass in honesty. It’s one for the wāhine. Through Marshall’s extraordinary storytelling I saw and laughed with the people she loves, and cried for those she wished had stayed.’ —Becky Manawatu

Whaea Blue is a fiercely original memoir with a fresh Māori perspective, scanning the record of inter-iwi hatreds, curses, war, and colonial aftershocks. In the process, she crafts a complex personal relationship to Māori identity. No one is spared in this droll, lyrical memoir, least of all the author herself. Marshall dives fearlessly into the darkest topics – pain, loss, abandonment, violence, death, madness, war – and comes up with a testament you won’t forget.' —John Dolan

‘Marshall’s whirlwind prose effortlessly slams the reader with neck-snapping speed from laughter to sorrow to recognition to disbelief and then back again.  An uncommonly good debut by an author who is as original as she is undeniable.’ —Victor Rodger

Talia Marshall (Ngāti Kuia, Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Takihiku) is a Dunedin-based writer. She has had work published in Poetry magazine, Landfall, Sport, North & South, Mana, Canvas, The Spinoff, Newsroom, Pantograph Punch and with City Gallery. In 2020 she was the inaugural Emerging Māori Writer in Residence at the IIML at Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University of Wellington, and in 2021 she won the Newsroom Surrey Hotel Writers Residency.

Cover photograph: Talia Marshall, May 1995, off to the formal with Dieter.

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