Life story

Award-winning Maori author publishes Life Story

Marlene J. Bennetts MNZM

Multi-award winning author Marlene Bennetts MNZM (Te Ātiawa O Te Waka-a-Māui) publishes an autobiography Whakaaetanga/Acceptance, which tells her story of overcoming adversity and disability to become an accomplished writer. She aims to encourage others to overcome challenges, and sales of the book will support disabled Maori through the Whānau Ora Hei Whakapiki Mauri initiative.

“The book I feel is helping others overcome. When they think they can’t overcome something, hang on and have some hope. Opening the right door can take some I hope this book will inspire others,” says Marlene.

Marlene often used her life and ancestral stories in her stories, and she felt it was only fitting to write an autobiography to share the experiences accumulated over her 83 years of life. Whakaaetanga/Acceptance includes stories of growing up on the West Coast, when she found out she was Maori at 16, the dramatic changes Aotearoa has seen in her 83 years, and her trials and tribulations. In this video, Marlene talks more about her autobiography.

“I’ve always wanted to write to help others. I feel like what I’ve been through with ups and downs with disabilities can help others overcome,” she says.

Marlene has spent most of her career writing poetry and children’s books ranging from stories of endangered New Zealand species to stories about the resilience of the mind. Her awards include the Delores Boccanera Poetry Prize, awarded by British literary magazine Dandelion, and in 2003 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in recognition of her services to literature.

“I feel very lucky to have been through what I have been through because it has helped me to understand others, to understand how they are feeling and I have also discovered that all the pain you go through is your greatest strengths and I was very lucky and I want to share with others.”

Marlene was able to access Whānau Ora funding through Te Pūtahitanga O Te Waipounamu, Whānau Ora’s commissioning agency for the South Island, to publish her autobiography. Hei Whakapiki Mauri supported Marlene throughout the writing process. Since becoming part of the Hei Whakapiki Mauri Whānau, Marlene learned more about her Whakapapa and wanted to give back to the Whānau by donating 95% of the proceeds from her book to help uplift the Mauri of other disabled Maori.

“I believe I was given the gift of writing to help others, especially those with all kinds of disabilities and issues,” she says.

Marlene Whakaaetanga/Acceptance’s latest book is available for pre-order here now. Limited copies of the media are available for review.

The book will be officially launched on Thursday, June 16 at 5:30 p.m. at Te Pūtahitanga O Te Waipounamu.

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