Hinemoana Baker was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1968 and grew up in Whakatane and Nelson. She is the daughter of a Māori, with European ancestry on her mother’s side. At Victoria University of Wellington, Baker earned a bachelor’s degree in Māori and Women’s Studies, followed by a master’s degree in Creative Writing.
Baker’s writing career took off in Harare, Zimbabwe, where she helped found the grouping Zimbabwe Women Writers. It was in this setting that she gave her first public reading. Baker’s first book of poetry, »mātuhi | needle«, was published in 2004, and many of the poems explore the question of how people can find orientation and their way in today’s world. The New Zealand writer Bill Manhire called the volume a »beautiful GPS device«. It was followed in 2010 by »kōiwi | bone bone« and in 2014 by »waha | mouth«. The author attaches particular importance to the artistically elaborate design of her books. She finds the material for her poems in autobiographical and extremely intimate texts as well as in everyday observations or prefabricated text fragments from dictionaries. Onomatopoeia and language games are characteristic elements of her texts, which have also been printed in numerous anthologies and literary journals. Baker was Arts Queensland Poet in Residence in 2009 and Victoria University of Wellington’s Writer in Residence in 2014. As part of this, she dedicated herself to a prose text dealing with events in her family’s history, such as the sometimes traumatic time her father spent as a child in a Catholic orphanage. She was Creative New Zealand’s Berlin Writer in Residence in 2015/16. During that time, Baker researched her maternal ancestors, who came from Oberammergau and emigrated to New Zealand. In 2012, there was a German-New Zealand poets-in-residence meeting, including, among others, Baker, Ulrike Almut Sandig, Uwe Kolbe, and Brigitte Oleschinski, who traveled together to Tolaga Bay, New Zealand, and observed the extremely rare celestial spectacle of a Venus transit, the passing of Venus in front of the sun, which was reflected in the 2016 jointly published volume »Transit of Venus | Venustransit«. Baker’s volume »Funkhaus« was published in 2021 and includes song-like lyrics about love, friendship, and estrangement across countries and languages, addressing both the living and the dead.
Hinemoana Baker has lived in Berlin since 2015. She teaches creative writing and is also a successful musician and producer. She has been performing as a singer-songwriter since the 1990s. Her first album »puāwai« from 2004 was nominated for several music awards. Together with Christine White, she forms the duo Taniwha. She also presents and performs her lyrics at various festivals.