Patricia Frances Grace (born 17 August 1937) is a New Zealand author of novels, short stories and children's books. She was the first female Māori writer to publish a collection of short stories, Waiariki (1975) and has since written seven novels, seven short-story collections, a non-fiction biography and an autobiography.

Grace in 2016

Quotes edit

  • I never found myself in a book. The children I read about lived in other countries, lands of snow and robins. Sometimes they lived in large houses and had nurses and maids to look after them. They did not belong in extended families, did not speak as I spoke. There were malevolent aunts and terrible stepmothers. It was wrong to be poor. If you were poor you usually did some brave deed that made you rich by the end of the story, when you would marry a princess or a prince. Or you died in the snow while selling matches. Maidens and Jesus were fair. No one was brown or black unless there was something wrong with them or they held a lowly position in society.
  • I was okay about being Māori. I was okay about being brown, because this had been reinforced positively by my parents and their families. But I always had it in the back of mind, these people don't understand. They don't know. Along with that there was often the assumption that I wasn't clean, I wasn't clever, you know. These were the things that hurt me.
  • I had always loved writing, but I didn't kind of know that a writer was something one could aspire to be and that was partly because I'd never read writing by New Zealand writers.

Interview (2021) edit

  • Though I had always liked books, any books, any written-down words or expressions, the ones I read as a child were always exotic. I never found myself in a book.
  • In many stories blackness was equated with evil: devils, witches’ clothes, unlucky cats, bad wolves. New Zealand history was told from a Eurocentric point of view, if it was told at all.
  • At the time I gave the paper (1987), New Zealand history was still being evaluated from a Eurocentric viewpoint. It generally glorified the European settler experience and by doing so negated the Māori experience and settlement of Aotearoa. A look at some of the vocabulary in use could be taken as a quick example. Take “pioneer” and “settler”. These referred to British pioneers and settlers. The ancestors of the Māori children sitting in our classrooms were referred to in many less complimentary terms. They were savage barbarians, hostile, cunning. Warlike. Yet the British with all their guns and armoury, sweeping in on many indigenous areas of the world, were never referred to as warlike. In those times, the wars between Māori and Pākehā were still being referred to as “Māori Wars”. A British fighting force was an army. A Māori fighting force was a war party (a term still in use). British fighters were soldiers or colonial forces. Māori fighters were rebels and raiders and warriors (again, still in use). A successful battle by the colonial forces was a victory, by a Māori fighting force a massacre.
  • If there are no books which tell us about ourselves, but tell us only about others, that makes you invisible in the world of literature. That is dangerous. If there are books and stories about you but they are ones belonging only to the past, it is as though you do not belong in present society. That is dangerous. If there are books about you but they are negative, demeaning, insensitive and untrue, that is dangerous. Multiply this by what appears on television, in advertising, teacher attitudes, health services, questionnaires, testing and examinations and in many areas of society, maybe we shouldn’t wonder at the low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and therefore the disengagement of many Māori children with education.

Interview (2016) edit

  • in the early days I didn’t know what real creative writing was. I thought it was just imitating what had been read. I don’t know – trying to write a new Conan Doyle-type mystery, cobblestone streets, or something like that. That was until I came across writing by New Zealand writers, which was very late – after I’d left secondary school. I started to hear the New Zealand voice in literature and to understand that real writing is writing that comes from your self – your dreams, imaginings, emotions, dreads, desires, perceptions – what you know. Part of what you know comes from the research that you do. Those early influences were people like Frank Sargeson and Katherine Mansfield. I started to experience the New Zealand settings, hear the New Zealand voice in what I was reading for the first time, and then when I came across the writing of Amelia Batistich, a New Zealander of Dalmatian origins, I thought well, this is a different New Zealand voice. It started to click with me that I might have my own voice too. The penny dropped rather late for me. As well as Batistich there were all the Maurices [Gee, Shadbolt, Duggan], as well as writers like Dan Davin, Robin Hyde, Ruth Park, Ian Cross, Marilyn Duckworth, Janet Frame. All added to my enlightenment and to the realisation that I would have a voice of my own. I knew also that there were people who I could write about, or characters I could invent, based on people I knew, who hadn’t really been written about before. There were stories about them, but not written ones.
  • I have a confidence now that I didn’t have in the early days, when I’d sometimes think ‘This is too terrible. I’m never going to be able to do this.’ I never feel like that now. I know there’s always going to be a way, or that you can just chuck something out if it’s too annoying. That’s a solution as well.
  • I wasn’t a very talkative child and I’m not a greatly talkative adult even, but I do enjoy listening to people, and language and how it’s used. It becomes part of my own store.
  • That’s what I like to do. I just start out and follow the characters.
  • what was the best part of writing. The main thing for me is characters. I don’t really worry about anything else. I don’t think about the storyline too much actually – just the characters and what might happen to them because of who they are and where they are and who they interact with. The settings, the stories, the themes and the voices and everything else, the inter- relationships – all belong to the characters. So if you keep true to those characters and how they might develop because of who they are and who they have around them and, to a degree, what happens to them, then the story will unfold. I’ve learned to have faith that something will come out.
  • People need to inhabit the work. I’ve always been interested in writing about those interrelationships – especially the intergenerational ones. It’s a matter of finding ways of doing that which enable different characters to have clear identity. Storytelling is one way I’ve found very useful – having different characters telling about the same things, each one bringing a new aspect and further enlightenment to the accounting.
  • I don’t have a sense, when I begin a new work, of standing at the beginning of a long road and looking along it to an end. Instead I have a sense of sitting in the middle of something – like sitting in the centre of a set of circles or a spiral – and reaching out to these outer circles, in any direction, and bringing stuff in. That’s what makes it all closer to me, being in the centre and having all I need within reach around me and piecing it together. So there I am, at the core, with my core idea – the few sentences about the Japanese man – thinking about what I need to bring this character to life and to shift him from A to B.
  • When Potiki first came out there was quite a bit of criticism of it. One of the reasons was because of the use of Māori terms and passages in the book; the other was that some people thought I was trying to stir up racial unrest. The book was described as political. I suppose it was but I didn’t realise it. The land issues and language issues were what Māori people lived with every day and still do. It was just everyday life to us, and the ordinary lives of ordinary people was what I wanted to write about, so I didn’t expect the angry reaction from some quarters. But there was one deliberate political act, and that was not to have a glossary for Maori text or to use italics. A glossary and italics were what were used for foreign languages, and I didn’t want Māori to be treated as a foreign language in its own country.
  • Learning about each other is not as one-sided as it used to be.
  • I’ve always loved the short story form. Short stories are like little gems that you can keep polishing and polishing in your aim for perfection.

Potiki (1986) edit

  • "We have known what it is to have had a gift, and have not ever questioned from where the gift came, only sometimes wondered. The gift has not been taken away because gifts are legacies, that once given cannot be taken away. They may pass from hand to hand, but once held they are always yours. The gift we were given is with us still."
  • "The hills did not belong to us any more. At the same time we could not help but remember that land does not belong to people, but that people belong to the land. We could not forget that it was land who, in the beginning, held the secret, who contained our very beginnings within herself. It was land that held the seed and who kept the root hidden for a time when it would be needed. We turned our eyes away from what was happening to the hills and looked to the soil and to the sea."
  • Nothing wrong with money as long as we remember it's food not God. You eat it, not worship it.
  • "Wrong again. We haven't come a long way at all. All we've done, many of us, is helped you, and people like you, get what you want. And we're all left out of it in the end. We've helped build a country, all right. Worked in its factories, helped build its roads, helped educate its kids. We've looked after the sick, and we've helped the breweries and the motor firms to make their profits. We've helped export our crayfish and we've sent our songs and dances overseas. We've committed our crimes, done our good deeds, sat in Parliament, got educated, sung our hymns, scored our tries, fought in wars, splashed our money about. ... Blaming is a worthless exercise. That would really be looking back. It's now we're interested in. Now, and from now on?"
  • We could not afford books so we made our own. In this way we were able to find ourselves in book It is rare for us to find ourselves in books, but in our own books we were able to find and define our lives. But our main book was the wharenui which is itself a story, a history, a gallery, a study, a design structure and a conga. And we are part of that book along with family past and family yet to come. The land and the sea and the shores are a book too, and we found ourselves there. They were our science and our sustenance. And they are our own universe about which there are stories of great deeds and relationships and mage and imaginings, love and terror, heroes heroines, villas and fools. Enough for a lifetime of selling.
  • "People are strength too. Care for people and you are cared for, give strength to people and you are strong. It's land and people that are a person's self, and to give to the land and to give to the people is the best taonga of all. Giving is strength. We've always known it."
  • The story had changed. It was as Toko had said, the stories had changed. And our lives had changed. We were living under the machines, and under a changing landscape, which can change you, shift the inside of you.

Quotes about Grace edit

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