"In his 1999 poetic sequence Star Waka, Robert Sullivan uses the image of the waka as a container for the freight of history—personal, familial, tribal, national. The waka, he says, ‘is a knife through time’, connecting the pre-contact past with the urban present and sailing on towards a possible, if fancifully configured, extraterrestrial future. The waka morphs as it travels, from primeval first fleet to space ship." - The Auckland University Press Anthology of New Zealand Literature.
Published on the cusp of the new millennium, Sullivan’s third book of poems, Star Waka, came with some strings attached: each poem had to feature either a star, a waka, or the ocean.
Within these parameters, and in 2001 lines, Sullivan creates 100 poems that, he says, themselves function like a waka: ‘member of the crew change, the rhythm and the view changes – it is subject to the laws of nature’
Robert Sullivan is the author of a number of books of poetry, a graphic novel, and a prize-winning book of Māori legends for children. He co-edited, with Albert Wendt and Reina Whaitiri, the anthologies of Polynesian poetry in English Whetu Moana and Mauri Ola.
In 1998 he was the Literary Fellow at the University of Auckland and in 2001 he was the Distinguished Visiting Writer at the University of Hawai‘i Manoa, where he taught creative writing for some years.
He now teaches at Manukau Institute of Technology.