Taito’s passion for writing earns her a spot in NZ best 25 poems

Mere Taito during a book signing with Karlo Mila at the Wellington launch of the anthology Small Islands yesterday, March 18. Picture: Unity Bookshop Wellington, NZ

MERE Taito’s passion for writing has earned her a spot on New Zealand’s 25 Best Poems for 2017 that was released earlier this month.
Ms Taito who is of Rotuman descant wrote a poem titled ‘The quickest way to trap a folktale’, which was inspired through her frustration towards a publishing institution.
“I was inspired to write after discovering in 2014 that the Rotuman myths and legends recorded by missionary/linguist Churchward in the 1930s held in copyright by Wiley International in the journal Oceania,” Ms Taito said.
“To access these myths, you will have to pay.”
She said on the Wiley Online Library, users could choose to rent it for 48hrs for US$6, upload to the Cloud for US$15 or download and print a PDF for US$38.
Ms Taito said she did not agree with how publishing institutions were using those stories as their own.
“I can’t and will not accept the legitimacy of the copyrighting of traditional stories by large academic/publishing institutions,” she said
“These stories, plot and characters are not their creations and, therefore, not their intellectual property to copyright. How dare they?”
Ms Taito added this, however, did not mean that Churchward was to be blamed.
“Churchward did a lot to writing in the Rotuman language. In fairness to him, the 1930s was a different time of engagement with indigenous communities,” she said.
“Open source platforms were non-existent.
“I think the problem is institutional-based rather than individual, Churchward was a missionary who knew languages like a linguist.”
Her poem was published on an anthology called Manifesto Aoteroa by Otago University Press in 2017.
She said it was her hope that publishing institutions would keep indigenous content open for access.
“My hope is that the poem makes academic institutions and publishing houses consider open access to content, like myths and legends, that is traditional-knowledge based, such content should not be locked up in research institutions,” she said.
Ms Taito was born and raised in Fiji and moved to New Zealand in 2007. She is currently working for the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand.

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