Career

Miriama Kamo fulfils her dream of becoming an author

“This is a lovely legacy to leave my children,” says a delighted Miriama, whose daughter looks to be following in her footsteps.

By Sebastian van der Zwan
Writing a children's book was a dream come true for Miriama Kamo, who has wanted to be an author ever since she was a kid herself, filling the spare pages of her dad's diaries with stories and insisting the whanau listen to every word.
However, when the Sunday and Marae presenter proudly brought home her first published work recently, the response from her stepson Sam, 17, and daughter Te Rerehua, six, was muted. She laughs, "Both of them were like, 'Cool, whatever.' It's the same as when they see me on telly – very ho-hum."
But a couple of weeks later, Te Rerehua came up to Miriama, 44, clutching the Maori language version of the book, The Stolen Stars of Matariki, and demanding her mum read it to her, which was "so exciting".
The TVNZ 1 star tells, "It was slightly surreal turning the pages and reading her my words, but I felt very proud. Kids have so many demands on their attention these days, especially with all those screens, so I'm always delighted to see her with a book, but it's awesome to have actually written something that captures her imagination."
Not coincidentally, Miriama's book is about two children called Te Rerehua and Sam, who are visiting their grandparents in Canterbury's Te Mata Hapuku (also known as Birdling's Flat) when they encounter some constellation-thieving patupaiarehe (fairy folk).
It's a "magical, wild, windy" place where the TV personality spent many childhood holidays, and where her parents Raynol and Mary, to whom the book is dedicated, now live. Te Rerehua and Sam are regular visitors, along with Miriama and her husband, consultant Mike Dreaver, 52.
"We had this beat-up old bach with no TV and us kids were just allowed to run free," recalls Miriama.
"We spent a lot of time playing hide and seek on the beach, and looking for agate crystals in the dunes, which the kids still do now. There's a real sense of legacy when you watch your children doing what you once did."

However, Miriama's favourite childhood memory, something Te Rerehua and Sam recreate in her book, was eeling at night with her parents.
"It was just the most fabulous thing," she smiles. "We'd get our warm clothes and our torches, and while Dad was catching eels, we'd lie on the stones, look up at the stars and Mum would tell a story."
The star suspects she may have inherited her life-long passion for storytelling from her mother, saying, "Everything I do is around telling stories, encouraging other people to tell theirs, and hoping that'll inspire and help others."
Miriama admits, though, that her first attempt at a children's book wasn't particularly high-minded. She laughs, "It was called Sir Reginald and the Quest for the Golden Fart. I wrote it 10 years ago just to make the kids in my family laugh –
and they did – but it wasn't what the publisher was looking for. However, they said they loved my writing and asked if I'd write them something about Matariki, which is how this book came about."

Meanwhile, Miriama is delighted to see "smart, sassy" Te Rerehua following in her storytelling footsteps.
The proud mum grins, "She's going through a phase where we have to ask her, 'Is that really what happened or what you'd like to have happened?' She's exaggerating and dramatising things as storytellers are wont to do."
The family visited Miriama's parents at Te Mata Hapuku last week, but sadly, they didn't go eeling because the water quality at Te Roto o Wairewa (Lake Forsyth) has declined due to erosion and algal blooms.
"One of the first signs there was something wrong with the lake was when we lost a dog to it," recalls Miriama.
"Poor Hussy had a swim off the back of our dinghy, came out covered in green algae and died a few days later. It's incredibly sad because the lake has such a rich history as a food basket for Canterbury and it brought a lot of mana to the local hapu."
Miriama hopes The Stolen Stars of Matariki will bring some attention to the plight of Aotearoa's polluted waterways and a portion of its profits will go toward the restoration of Te Roto o Wairewa.
In the meantime, the star is a little nervous about the response from younger readers, particularly when it comes to her scheduled book signings.
"I hope people turn up!" she laughs. "But I did a reading at Te Rerehua's school that went wonderfully, so fingers crossed."
Miriama's book also got rave reviews when she was talked into giving a reading at a recent family reunion.
"It was a lovely, receptive audience and it was so nice to read it to a group of people who are so invested in my success," she smiles. "This is such a lovely legacy to leave my children and hopefully even their kids."

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