Witi Ihimaera explains how he overcame rape, self-harm to become esteemed New Zealand writer

Source: 1News

Speaking to John Campbell today Witi Ihimaera about this new book Native Son the writer's memoir, he talked about how he overcame being raped as a child and self-harm to become an esteemed and much loved author.

Ihimaera is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit and the first Māori to publish a novel.  He joined TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning to talk about the memoir.

Talking to Campbell today Ihimaera recounted being raped as an 11-year-old boy by his uncle.

"I didn't tell anyone about it until I was 73 ... I'm 75," he said.

Native Son the writer’s memoir covers Ihimaera’s life from the start of high school and his journey to becoming a writer.

"It has been a long and sometimes turtous and challenging and in the end absolutely luminous journey.

"This book deals with the dilemma of am I still a man because this (rape)  happened to me? It affected all of my relationships.. I tried self-harm, I tried so many things to not be on this planet ... but I always had mentors and beautiful people who would pull me up and out of myself," Mr Ihimaera says.

He says in this book he wanted to "write another narrative for myself".

"This book is about writing myself out of that ... and to become a fairytale prince out of all of this.  I needed to feel I could overcome this, then he wouldn't win and he wouldn't stop me from being the person who I was, he wouldn't stop me from doing this work."

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