The Mahy Questionnaire: Stacey Morrison

This month we have a very special Mahy Questionnaire to kick off our Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori coverage, from none other than champion Te Reo Māori advocate Stacey Morrison (Te Arawa, Ngāi Tahu). Stacey is a radio and TV broadcaster, as well as the co-author with her husband Scotty of recent title Māori Made Fun, and the wonderful My First Words in Māori, illustrated by Ali Teo. Both books are published by Penguin Random House NZ.

Stacey Morrison, photo courtesy of Breast Cancer Foundation of New Zealand.

1. Describe yourself in three words

‘Māmā, Māmā, MāāāāaaaMāāā’ (must be called out, loudly, in quick succession).

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

Many years later, in a speech at our wedding, it was referred to as my ‘awkward phase’. So no, not a great changeover. Very formative, but not easy.

3. Are you haunted by a particular memory?

I was. But now, after many years, I can finally picture my Mum when she was healthy, not as ill as she was before she died.

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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?

It’s true for me and for generations of Māori storytellers in particular. What we’ve called Māori ‘myths’ are perfect examples of metaphor and imagination layered on reality. 

5. Have you ever owned a rattlebang car?

My first car became rattlebang when it got smashed in to, while parked. A drunk driver hit us in my stepdad’s car, and crashed in to my parked car, as well as my friend’s car. We were all okay though, and I used the insurance to go to Europe!

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

The one from He wāhi i te puruma/There’s room on the broom.

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

Mindful, playful and childlike—in a good way.

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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?


9. When have you been at your most discombobulated?

Every time my radio co-host says the word ‘discombobulated’ out loud. I’ve never met anyone who uses it as much as he does.

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

Yoga, swim with kids, and BRUNCH.

11. In what way might you be a trickster?

There was a model of car I really wanted to buy once, but my husband wasn’t sold on it. At that time I was working on a TV shoot that provided our family with a rental car, so I went behind the scenes and asked if it could be that model. By the end of the time with the rental car my husband loved it and was saying, ‘It’s roomy, isn’t it? It’s good, isn’t it? Shall we get one?’ and I agreed with ‘his’ idea.

The Tricksters by Margaret Mahy (J.M. Dent, 1986)

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

$5 YUSS.

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

So you’ve met my father?

14. Would you babysit someone else’s shadow?

What would my own shadow do in that time?

The Boy With Two Shadows by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jenny Williams (J.M. Dent, 1971)

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

Something usually jangles around in my brain then comes out to the page when ready.

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

Poached eggs on toast.

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

Punch it?

The Great White Man-Eating Shark by Margaret Mahy, illustrated by Jonathan Allen (J.M. Dent, 1982)

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?

Only if the story is mine and mine only, not a shared story, from our ancestors.

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

Who has the kids?

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

I go to my kids.

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

Between the stars.

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?

Giraffes, hippo skin is creepy.

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

Bubble gum.

Stacey Morrison

Stacey Morrison (Ngai Tahu, Te Arawa) is a radio and TV broadcaster whose projects have spanned 25 years. She is the co-host of the Drive show on The Hits, having previously worked on Mai FM and Flava, and her most recent TV credit was Whanau Living, which included the whole Morrison family on screen, offering lifestyle ideas and projects, all while speaking te reo Maori. Stacey’s love of language learning, and desire to understand her heritage language, started as an AFS student in Japan. In 2016, she won Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori Champion Award for te reo Maori. She lives in Auckland with her husband Scotty and their three children, who are proud to speak Maori as their first language.