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Samuela, Maria
Author photo: Ebony Lamb
Writer's File

Maria Samuela

Wellington - Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Samuela, Maria
Author photo: Ebony Lamb
In brief
Maria Samuela is an Aotearoa New Zealand writer of Cook Islands descent. She holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. Her work traverses short stories, children’s writing, and a forthcoming novel, and is predominantly centred on the Cook Island diaspora. Her stories have been translated into five languages.
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Samuela, Maria (1972–) is a writer living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, who is best known for her short stories. Maria’s stories have been published in Turbine, Sport 46, Takahē, and adda, and read on National Radio. They have appeared in the anthologies Middle Distance: Long Stories of Aotearoa New Zealand and A Game of Two Halves: The Best of Sport 2005-2019.

Beginning her career as a children’s story writer, Maria initially published children’s stories in the School Journal, and also released a collection of children’s stories, The Secret Game Plan and Other Stories. In 2017 she completed a Master of Arts in Creative Writing at Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters with a manuscript for a collection of adult stories that would later become Beats of the Pa’u.

In 2018, Samuela was the University Bookshop Summer Writer in Residence in Dunedin, an award made in association with Robert Lord Writers' Cottage Trust; in 2020 she was the Emerging Pasifika writer in residence at the Michael King Writers Centre. In 2019, Maria’s story ‘Bluey’ was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Short Story Prize, and ‘The Peach Tree’ was longlisted for the same award in 2022.

Maria’s 2022 collection of stories published by Te Herenga Waka University Press, Beats of the Pa'u, reflects her childhood in the Porirua suburb of Cannons Creek. In his review for Newsroom, David Eggleton writes: “What gives Samuela’s writing its extraordinary power is that she doesn’t flinch from sharp, clear-eyed observations and wry depictions of truths…using language articulated with an insider’s precision and radar-like ear.”

Also in 2022, Samuela was awarded a Copyright Licensing New Zealand and New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc) Research Grant to support her work on Kana, a forthcoming novel about young women from the Cook Islands who migrated to Aotearoa New Zealand from the 1930s to the 1950s.

February 2024
February 2024