Press Release – Fulbright NZ
She may be only 30 years old, but Leilani Tamu has done a lot of living in that time. Writing about her experiences has helped her become one of the youngest recipients of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writers residency for 2013.June 24, 2013
Fulbright Winner Inspired by Life’s Challenges
She may be only 30 years old, but Leilani Tamu has done a lot of living in that time. Writing about her experiences has helped her become one of the youngest recipients of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s residency for 2013.
A self-professed ‘pale-skinned, brown-eyed woman of Pacific Island descent’, Tamu has tackled the big social and cultural issues in her popular magazine columns, including the topics of racism, unemployment, home ownership and youth suicide.
She’s also a former diplomat, Pacific historian and poet, who at 12-years-old spent a few weeks sleeping rough on the streets of Auckland when her home life became unbearable.
Yet she managed to pick herself up, finish her education and has gone on to achieve great things.
During her exchange to the University of Hawai’i at Manoa from September, Tamu will work on a second book of poetry and prose, which will include an exploration of the life of Princess Ka’iulani, a 19th century Hawaiian princess of mixed cultural heritage who was heir to the throne before the monarchy was overthrown.
Creative New Zealand’s Pacific Arts Committee Chair Luamanuvao Winnie Laban says: “Leilani’s fascinating exploration into mixed cultural heritage through her rich and varied career makes her a deserving recipient of this year’s residency.”
Tamu is the tenth recipient of the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Writer’s Residency, which was established in 2004 to develop and foster closer links between the people of New Zealand and Hawai’i; to increase the profile and awareness of Pacific literature as an art form; and to provide writers with the time and opportunity to undertake creative and professional development.
What Tamu hopes is that her very ‘real’ writing inspires everyday Kiwis and shows them that despite the odds they can ‘make it’ no matter what obstacles they have to overcome, and become leaders of their time.