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Source: Massey University


Rawinia Parata’s first full-length play One Side of the Fence has won a prestigious playwriting award.


Master of Creative Writing student Rawinia Parata, of Ngāti Porou and Ngāi Tahu, has won a Playmarket Brown Ink award for her debut full-length play Our Side of the Fence. Rawinia’s play also received a commendation in the Playwrights’ Association of New Zealand 2021 One Act Play Competition.

The Brown Ink award specifically supports Māori and Pacific writers, and offers a small selection of plays either a development workshop with actors dedicated to helping build the work, or a one-on-one partnership to work with a Playmarket script advisor.

The highly competitive award is given annually to the Māori and Pacific writers considered to have submitted the best new and original script. Former Brown Ink winners include such Aotearoa New Zealand theatre luminaries Victor Rodger, for Girl on a Corner, Rob Mokaraka with Shot Bro, and the late, much-loved Nancy Brunning for Hīkoi. Two other playwrights were selected this year: Ali Foa’i for Lupahila and DF Mamea for Departures.

Plays previously selected for Brown Ink awards that have gone on to successful professional productions include The Mooncake and the Kumara by Mei Lin Hansen, Officer 27 by Aroha Awarau, I Ain’t Mad At Cha by Turene Jones and Au Ko Tuvalu by Tavita Nielsen-Mamea.

Rawinia says she feels honoured to be chosen for an award, and is excited for how her play might grow and what she will learn from the experience. “Our Side of the Fence was created, written and developed as the creative component of my Master of Creative Writing with Massey. I owe so much to my supervisor Elspeth Tilley. Her enthusiasm and support helped me to delve deep and challenge myself creatively.”

Our Side of the Fence is a story about assumptions and is set between two sets of neighbours, a Māori family and a Pākehā one. There are two sides of a story, just as there are two sides of a fence. Our Side of the Fence is about what happens when those worlds collide.

“By showing that both families misunderstand the other, Rawinia aimed to tell a story that created empathy and understanding, reflected cultural diversity, and demonstrated the pervasive harm of unconscious bias and stigmatisation,” says Rawinia’s supervisor, Associate Professor Elspeth Tilley from the School of Humanities, Media and Creative Communication.

“I am feeling so incredibly proud of her for this particularly as this is the first full-length play that she’s written.”

Rawinia previously completed a Bachelor of Communication at Massey, then went on to continued her studies with a Master of Creative Writing after discovering her love of the subject during her undergraduate programme.

After graduating she worked in several roles, including as a senior advisor for Te Puni Kokiri, Ministry for Māori Development. She now runs her own communication and project management company called Mai Rano Ltd. Her company is contracted by various organisations, trusts, and industry groups on the East Coast to provide support for issues or communication objectives.

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