Puru, Jessie Anahera
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Smalltalk Rearing is a poetry collection that follows the life of a young Māori woman from childhood to motherhood. It follows her experiences growing up as a child in a small rural town with her family made up mostly of women, and their struggles to fit in to the mostly Pākeha community. In her teen years, she moved into an urban community in south Auckland, where she faced culture shock. The wāhine is introduced to different cultures. She misses her own and struggles with finding out what her identity is, as someone who is biracial. Her Māori mother’s family raised her but never picked up the language and spent much time on the marae. As someone who was raised only by women, she develops a distrust of men and often thinks back on the stories of her grandfather. He was the only good man she can remember, who passed away when she was very young. The way she eventually connects herself to her cultural identity is through storytelling and looking back on experiences and retelling them regarding Māori myth and legend. With her struggles to navigate through life, she addresses her insecurities and distrust by the end of the manuscript. She realises that it was the way she saw herself that disconnected her from her cultural identity, and that she can look back on her upbringing and see that she was included all along.