The Mahy Questionnaire: Tim Tipene

The latest addition to our growing collection of Margaret Mahy Questionnaire responses comes from the amazing Tim Tipene! Tim has written a deeply thought-provoking Reckoning for us in the past – as well as an ever-growing number of his own books, of course. And now, you can read on to find his answers to our beloved set of questions.

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1. Describe yourself in three words

Warrior and Master.

2. During the height of adolescence, was it good changeover?

No, it was a very rough and scary time. I’m happy that I got through it and that I chose to live.

3. Are you haunted by a particular memory?

I have many haunting memories from my childhood and teen years which I have addressed over the years as an adult. One was when our five-year-old neighbour rushed out onto the road and was hit and killed by a truck. She was supposed to hold my hand.

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The Haunting by Margaret Mahy (J.M. Dent, 1982)

4. MM: ‘Imagination is the creative use of reality.’ Is this true for you?

Yes, I would agree. It certainly helped me to deal with the violence and abuse in my home when I was growing up.

5. Have you ever owned a rattlebang car?

I lived in a rattlebang car for a while. The first one that I brought only cost me $200, however the man said that it didn’t come with the battery. He started it, removed the battery and I tried to drive it home in the dark with no lights, but it conked out.

6. Which witch? Identify a favourite one from literature.

Hermione Granger. She’s cool. A real Hinemoa te toa.

7. ‘Come dance all around the world. And see all the beauty that surrounds us.’ Words for a romantic or just being mindful?

The world is a magical place, certainly something that we need to treasure and protect.

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The Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jenny Williams (F. Watts, 1989)

8. A lion in the broom cupboard or a lion in the meadow?

A lion everywhere. Iron like a Lion in Zion. – Bob Marley

9. When have you been at your most discombobulated?

When I saw the word discombobulated. I searched it up and found that it was just what I was feeling.

10. What is your most favourite thing to do on a summery Saturday morning?

Spend time with my family. My kids are growing up so fast, and we’re always so busy. So time together is precious.

Tim and his children.

11. In what way might you be a trickster?

I once emptied a can of shaving cream into the bottom of a mate’s sleeping bag. He thought that someone else had done it, and so began a massive water battle in the middle of the night involving eight others. Meanwhile I was hidden away, laughing myself to sleep in a nearby room.

12. Have you ever been rewarded when looking down the back of the chair?

In hard times that is one of the places to look. It is a place of hope. Silver coins can help, but finding a gold coin, that could make all the difference.

13. A pirate for a mother or a jester for a father?

My parents were both pirates and not in a good way.

14. Would you babysit someone else’s shadow?

I’ve been too busy addressing my own shadows. I can assist people in addressing their shadows but I could never take responsibility for them.

Two of Tim’s books: Taming the Taniwha and Māui – Sun Catcher

15. ‘Horrakapotchkin,’ said the cat. ‘I want to write a poem.’ Is that how it works for you?

My stories are alive in me all the time, I just have to have the space and time to write them. As a teen I would find scraps of paper on the street and scribble down my ideas. Sometimes I’d rip up empty cigarette packets and use that. It helped to pass the time when I was hitchhiking. I dreamed my story Haere; it woke me up at 2am in the morning. I turned on the light and wrote it.

16. What I like for dinner when I am on my own is…

Steak stir-fried with vegetables, a steak salad or perhaps a cold baked bean sandwich with plenty of butter, or KFC – but I’m only allowed it now and then. Apparently it is a sometimes food.

17. If you find yourself nose to nose with a shark, the only thing to do is to…

Tap into my inner Hinemoa te toa and yell, ‘Bring it on!’

Hinemoa te toa by Tim Tipene, illustrated by John Bennett (Scholastic NZ, 2008)

18. MM: ‘If things were fair, all stories would be anonymous…set free from the faults that go with its author’s name.’ Would you set your stories free in the name of anonymity?

My stories are all tied to me and my experience. Each one represents aspects of my life. My stories represent my culture, my whānau, my tūpuna, my iwi, my mountains and rivers, and in turn my stories belong to them. The name is the link.

19. You’re at a party and someone finds out what you do. What is the question they invariably ask?

What’s your day job?

20. Who do you go to be entertained by linguistic pyrotechnics? Or entertained by songsense nongs?

On the marae listening to the speakers, or having a cup of tea and listening to the older ones.

21. Which way does your heart lie: between the stars or anchored to the trapeze?

A bit of both. Gotta stay real.

The Wind Between the Stars by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Brian Frood (J.M. Dent, 1976)

22. Would you rather be followed home by hippos or giraffes?

Either would be fun and exciting.

23. Never mind a baby in the bubble. Would you rather – rice bubbles, bubble gum, bubble ‘o’ bill ice cream or Michael Bublé?

A bubble blower. There’s nothing like making bubbles.

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Mrs Battleship

Written by Tim Tipene

Published by OneTree House

RRP: $22.00

Buy Now

Tim Tipene

Tim Tipene (Ngāti Kuri, Ngāti Whātua) is an author, speaker, educator, and survivor of family violence. He is the award-winning author of ten children’s picture books and junior novels including Kura Toa, Haere, Taming the Taniwha and 2016’s Māui: Sun Catcher. A pioneering youth and self-defence counsellor, he leads the Peace Masters and Warrior Kids programmes.