Bridget Underhill, [Ngāti Raukawa, Te Arawa] was born in England and raised in Aotearoa. She studied painting at the Ilam School of Fine Arts, and later completed a BA and BA (Hons) in Art History and English. She spent some years in Asia studying Mandarin Chinese in Shanghai and Beijing and more recently has been studying te reo Māori at the University of Canterbury and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Ōtautahi. In the early ’90 when contemplating a Masters degree in the area of Māori literature Bridget was encouraged by the founding members of Te Ha to consider compiling a bibliography of Māori writers – in part to research the breadth of Māori writing at that time. This mahi quickly outgrew the scope of a Masters degree and some years later the three-volume bibliography of over 1300 Māori writers writing in English was awarded a PhD from the University of Canterbury.
Bridget’s PhD became the foundation of the Kōmako website which is a digitalised version of the bibliography and continues to be updated as more writers get published. This is an ongoing project with Dr Christopher Thomson (the website developer) based at the University of Canterbury and any published Māori writer not already included in the bibliography can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Bridget has been a member of the Te Ha committee for a number of years and has co-convened regional Māori writers hui in Ōtautahi. Her writing has been confined mainly to non-fiction papers and unpublished poetry.