Hokianga stories inspired by people and landscape

9 January 2018

Hokianga stories inspired by people and landscape

Living in the Hokianga has been an inspiration to a NorthTec applied writing tutor and experienced author of short stories.

Susy Pointon will soon have a second book of short stories published, which are all based around the people, land, harbour and legends of the remote region of Northland.

Susy’s first collection of Hokianga-based short stories, Dreamers: Nga Kaimoemoea – Stories of the Hokianga, was published in 2015 by Wellington publisher, Steele Roberts.

With the book selling well and the stories being broadcast on National Radio, Susy has built up a following and is about to have a second collection published next month, entitled The Turn of the Tide: Te Huringa o te Tai – More Stories of the Hokianga.

She is constantly inspired by the landscape and the events which take place in the small community, and while her works are fictional, she says the locals often try to work out which characters are based on real people.

Susy, who was born in Wellington, lived for many years in the USA and has now been a Hokianga resident for several years, also works as a tutor for NorthTec’s fully online applied writing programmes.

With a background in film-making as well as writing fiction, she teaches papers in ‘Writing for Script and Screen’ and ‘Short Story 2’.

NorthTec offers three diplomas on this programme – Level 5 and Level 6 Diplomas in Applied Writing, and a Level 7 Diploma in Advanced Applied Writing, All tutors are published authors with a strong pedigree in their specialised field.

Susy is now working on a third collection of essays, this time inspired by her years living in the mountainous Appalachia area of America. Appalachian Spring is a personal narrative and a memoir of her time there, told through a series of short stories.

During her time in the Hokianga, Susy has also produced a documentary for Māori TV, called Hope. She said: “I’ve been living up here for a number of years and it’s an interesting place where a lot happens. I’m a hack – I write for a living and I do a lot of interviewing about local history and Māori history, so I get to meet a lot of people and hear a lot of stories.”

Living in the Hokianga has also helped Susy develop a much greater knowledge and appreciation of New Zealand history. She is currently writing a book on the history of the Hokianga and the descendants of the Waitangi Treaty, supported by a grant from the Copyright Licensing Trust.

She said: “I’ve learned a great deal since I’ve been here. I realised I was quite ignorant about NZ history. It’s much more fascinating to be on the ground and working with the descendants of people who have made history here.”

Susy enjoys passing on her skills and passion for creative writing. When she’s not tutoring her NorthTec students or authoring her own works, she teaches creative writing and media at Hiwa i te Rangi Teen Parent Unit, part of Northland College in Kaikohe.

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