Loose Canons25.04.23

Loose Canons - Sinead Overbye

Introducing our new kaiwāwahi Kaupapa Māori editor - Sinead Overbye! Check out her Loose Canons to learn the 5 things that make her tick!

Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.

Sinead Overbye (Te Whānau a Kai, Ngāti Porou) is our Kaiwāwāhi Kaupapa Māori - Kaupapa Māori Editor. She is a Libra sun with a Cancer Moon and Aries rising. Her background is in art history, Māori history, creative writing and educational research. Her work has been published with Starling, Sport, Turbine Kapohau, RNZ and other places.

Curated playlists

Definitely not unique to me, I know, but I LOVE a curated playlist. I love to hunt for the perfect songs to convey the exact mood I want. Or encounter a song in a café that absolutely captures the vibe of a poem. I think playlists are the ultimate love language. There’s nothing like when you and your bestie are crushing on different people and create a collaborative playlist featuring Prince’s “Irresistible Bitch”. Or when the only form of closure you get with the former-love-of-your-life is through a heartbreak playlist they forgot to make private. Or when you’re trying to figure out the vibes of your character, and the most delicious song pops up on radio – and that song is everything about them that you couldn’t capture with words just yet. Back in my former Twitter days, I once asked, “What music do you listen to when you’re writing?” and people were pretty vicious, berating me for even thinking you could write well while listening to music. But for me there is nothing better than lighting up a candle and blasting my favourite playlists while I work. It’s like having your headphones on in the gym – music gives me energy.

Queer fan-fiction

Fanfiction has always been this cheeky secret I keep ;) but honestly, the first queer anything I read as a teenager was fanfiction. There were no queer books in the library that didn’t end in suicide or a smashed glasshouse (shout out to Jacqueline Wilson). The only stories of queer joy I encountered were online, deep in the fandoms that shaped who I am today. In fanfiction, people pick up on the queer nuances in popular film and TV, take that queerbait and turn it into something real! Fanfiction makes up for the lack of representation in mainstream media by turning one long look between two [queerish] characters into a look of longing, and making them fully gayy. We take what is implied, amp up the sexual tension, and let them fall in love!

I lived so much of my adolescence through fanfiction, turning to these queer romances to ignite my own imagination – and think, what would the world look like if we set characters free to love whoever they wanted to? What would film and television look like if queerness wasn’t sordid or tragic, but was instead as fun and romantic as it can be in real life? Queerbaiting in media is endlessly frustrating, but fanfiction breaks through all of that and shows where queerness can linger when you look.

Audre Lorde

There are so many incredible poets of colour I’m inspired by. Ultimately, Audre Lorde is one of my faves and the most influential on my work as an essayist and art reviewer. Her collection of essays Sister Outsider is a book I go back to again and again. Whenever I feel like I can’t write, or just want some inspiration, I go walking to this audiobook and let her words ring through my ears. I think Audre Lorde is a perfect example of the strength there is in writing from your own specific experience of the world – she writes from her own point of view, and strongly positions herself as a Black woman, lesbian, poet, activist, cancer survivor, mother, and feminist. Lorde’s work is bold and inspiring. She challenges the white hetero-patriarchy with brutal honesty and without apologies. I find speaking my truth hard sometimes. Even writing a Facebook status or Tweet can turn my stomach in knots, but Lorde’s courage reminds me to write where I come from, and to not be afraid to say what I mean. Honestly, I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m grateful to have role models who remind me that what I have to say can have an impact on others.


I started getting mirimiri (traditional Māori healing, NOT massage) a few years ago. I initially went for an old injury that had left me with whiplash for almost a decade. The relief I felt, and healing I experienced, after one session was incredible. Now, in classic Gen-Z fashion, I’m on a long-term journey to heal my past trauma, which is locked up in my body and taking a loooooong time to release. But it’s so worth it. Mirimiri provides me with treatment and advice for how to holistically care for myself. It’s therapy, bodywork, rongoā, nutrition and every other kind of self-care all rolled into one. For me, it has been a long journey and will continue to be lifelong. I’m constantly falling off the wagon and climbing back on again. But to be able to heal myself in every way possible, I know it’s worth it. It also helps me to zoom out and critically reflect on my life and priorities as an artist. I’m still figuring out what it is I want to say through my writing, and still giving myself permission to speak my truth, which is a huge part of my personal mirimiri journey.

Home <3

I love home, above all else! Gisborne has my heart <3 It’s the place where I was born and grew up. The place where my mum and dad were born and raised. The place where they met one another, and where my grandparents met each other. My connection to Te Tairāwhiti goes back generations. It’s really special, to have that kind of long-term relationship to place.

When I was growing up, like many other young people, I took Gisborne for granted, but as an adult I appreciate it more and more. I feel really lucky to be from a small town with such a strong sense of community and people at its heart. And the Māori art scene in Gisborne is really popping off too – with galleries like Toi Ake and Hoea! Gallery and Art Centre and with incredible exhibitions at the Tairāwhiti Museum, as well as the arts programming at the Tairāwhiti Arts Festival.

I go back home to centre myself, to reconnect with places and people, to swim, to rest, and to be inspired.

Feature image by Todd Karehana

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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