Looking for truthiness : a personal investigation into bicultural poetry from the Bay of Islands presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Creative Writing at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand

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The creative component of this thesis mixes poems, prose poems and prose. Boundaries are blurred. English and Te Reo Māori intermingle and sit side by side, as do memoir and writing situated in the present. Time is sometimes curved and loved ones are brought back. Parts of the portfolio touch on environmental issues. The main recurring theme is a search, not only for ‘truthiness’ which may help the author find a comfortable place to stand, but also for physical, intellectual and emotional nourishment from food, nature, family, community and place. The critical component is an exegesis, which looks at influences on this writing, influences which are both local and international, male and female, Māori and Pākehā. A research question is explored in the exegesis – What are the social, historical and personal constraints and drivers behind the work presented and considered here? Particular attention is given to the consequences of colonisation in Aotearoa-New Zealand, with a focus on writing from the greater Bay of Islands area by Robert Sullivan and Glenn Colquhoun. Although three decades have passed since their first books were published, many of the issues their writing explored remain unresolved. Similar drivers and constraints still exist today, despite the efforts of many writers, artists, activists, educators, politicians and ordinary people. The thesis concludes that there is still work to be done, and hopes that more individuals in our society will eventually accept that they have everything to gain and nothing to lose by acknowledging and confronting personal and institutional racism, by embracing biculturalism and by making room for an indigenous Māori perspective in their lives, alongside whatever other cultural legacy they inherit from those whose shoulders they stand on.