Witi Ihimaera – 1975
When Witi Ihimaera arrived in Dunedin as the Burns Fellow for 1975, he experienced a form of culture shock. Not only did he write 'Ye Gods, you're lucky if the Listener arrives on Monday at all', but he felt as if he was 'the only Maori on Maori Hill.' However, his Burns year was a defining one. Not only did he write The New Net Goes Fishing, a collection of short stories that both marked the end of his early, 'pastoral' phase and looked forward to the more political post-1985 writings, but he began editing Into the World of Light (1982), the first in what was to become a series of anthologies of contemporary Maori writing. The anthology, he said 'was pretty significant personally as it enabled me to reach beyond myself to commit to Maori writing in its widest sense'. He came to like Dunedin, and felt through the Burns Fellowship, 'honoured to have this opportunity to write, for the first time, on a full-time basis'.
Into the World of Light. Edited by Witi Ihimaera and D.S. Long. Auckland: Heinemann, 1982. General PR 9634.4 IL3; Witi Ihimaera, 'Deep South/Impressions of Another Country'. Typescript. c.1975. Kind permission from the J. C. Beaglehole Room, Victoria University Library, Wellington.