Ao Hou, Te / The New World (1952—75) was a bilingual quarterly published by the Maori Affairs Department, and printed by Pegasus Press, 'to provide,' as its first issue said, 'interesting and informative reading for Maori homes ….. like a marae on paper, where all questions of interest to the Maori can be discussed'. The earliest issues did not name the editor. From 1954 it was Erik Schwimmer, from 1960 to 1961 he was temporarily replaced by Bruce Mason, and from 1962 to 1966 the editor was Margaret Orbell, who considerably increased the literary content, including the transcription of traditional work (such as a major series by Mervyn McLean and reprints from John White). She was replaced by Joy Stephenson, who continued to publish much fiction and poetry.
Articles ranged from agriculture through recipes to wood carving and other crafts, as well as biographically important obituaries. There were also literary contributions, such as the bilingual presentation of legends ('How Ngarara-Huarau Was Killed' by Te Whetu, translated by T.G. Poutawera), and poems (a series of 'Nga Titotito a Te Māori', translated by Reweti Kohere).
Distinguished contributors included S.M. (Hirini) Mead, Pei Te Hurunui Jones, Reweti Kohere, Joan Metge, J.C. Sturm, Kingi Ihaka, Maharaia Winiata, Turoa Royal, Leo Fowler, Hone Tuwhare, Barry Mitcalfe, Rowley Habib (Rore Hapipi), Patricia Grace and Riki Erehi, while works by older poets and storytellers (Mohi Turei) were revived. There were also annual literary competitions in Māori and in English.
As early as September 1959, the editor commented on 'a quite recent development, the emergence of Maori writers attempting the novel, the short story and modern verse forms ….. Altogether there must have been some dozens of Maoris who have recently started to write short stories, some with definite success'. In the following year, in judging a competition (won by Pita Sharples), he was even bolder: 'The Maori writer seems instinctively to understand that the English language is one of unrivalled majesty and richness, not, as many pakehas demonstrate, a convenient method of shorthand. I expect - I say this in full confidence - that the next ten years will produce a Maori novelist of outstanding talent; already the ground is being prepared for him'. Nine years later Witi Ihimaera published his first book.
NW [Nelson Wattie]
Extract from: The Oxford companion to New Zealand literature, edited by Roger Robinson and Nelson Wattie. Auckland [N.Z.]: Oxford University Press, 1998.
The National Library gratefully acknowledges the support of the editors of the Oxford Companion in making this extract available online.
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