A Rotorua teacher has been announced as the sole finalist for the emerging te reo writer 2019 Pikihuia Award.

Last week, the Māori Literature Trust named Rotorua Boys' High School's Assistant Head of the Faculty of Māori, Tiahomarama Fairhall (Te Arawa, Mataatua), the as the only finalist in her category.

This year the awards received a total of 215 entries, and the judges selected 14 finalists across six categories.

Fairhall's short story Tiakina! Tiakina! was judged by Tuehu Harris (Ngāti Kahungunu), director at Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori.

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She was inspired to write the piece after growing up listening to her father tell stories of her tūpuna.

Rotorua Boys' High School's assistant head of the Māori faculty, Tiahomarama Fairhall. Photo / Ben Fraser
Rotorua Boys' High School's assistant head of the Māori faculty, Tiahomarama Fairhall. Photo / Ben Fraser

Fairhalll told the Rotorua Daily Post that these ancestral stories covered Hātūpatu, Māui and many others, and were all told to her and her brothers in te reo Māori.

"I used to write stories all the time growing up, but stopped when I got to university."

Fairhall had encouraged past students to enter the Pikihuia competition to extend their creative writing skills but this time, she decided to enter herself.

Her short story is about a young man with a very special taonga and name.

She has been humbled by her recognition from Pikihuia.

"Getting back into writing stories again was the ultimate goal, and so it was a bonus for me."

She hopes more Māori, both students and adults, will write and enter the annual competition each year.

The winner of each category will receive a cash prize of $2000, when they are announced at a ceremony at Te Wharewaka in Wellington on September 14.