Robyn Bargh. Te Arawa and Ngati Awa.

Bachelor of Arts (Social Sciences)

Finding a book written by Māori, about Māori or published in Māori was almost impossible 21 years ago.

Robyn Bargh has helped put paid to that. She set out to publish books about Māori – the culture and world she knew and had grown up with. That’s been recognised internationally.

Since 1991, Robyn’s publishing company Huia has published hundreds of Māori books and educational resources. She’s dedicated more than two decades of her life building Maori literature in New Zealand, helping retain the voice of Māori for centuries to come.

Robyn feels Māori stories and writers haven’t been published in the past partly due to a perceived lack of interest, and because publishers didn’t see Māori work as profitable.

After trying her hand as a teacher, educational researcher and policy analyst, Robyn and her husband Brian set up Huia in 1991 to give Māori the voice they deserved.

She was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2012 New Years honours, for her services to Māori language and publishing. She was also internationally recognised for her work in 1994, when she received the New Venture Award from Women in Publishing in London.

In 2006, she was awarded the Te Tohu Toi Kē Award from Creative New Zealand/Te Waka Toi for her leadership and outstanding contribution to the development of new directions in Māori Art, and she received Massey University’s 75th Anniversary Medal for Distinguished Service in 2002.

Since setting up Huia, the company has published more than 100 Māori writers, and hundreds of books and educational resources about Māori have been printed, including the first Māori monolingual dictionary. This is all just the tip of the iceberg for Robyn.

Over the next 20 years, she aims to get Māori on the world stage of literature with internationally acclaimed writers and novels, and she also wants to publish more books in the Māori language. Robyn is devoted to ensuring Māori will continue to be reflected in New Zealand literature long after she has gone.

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