Who is caught in the middle when Western and Maori forms of knowledge about the mind collide? Twenty-something Nikki's city life has just reached a crisis point. Her brother, Joshua, is in a psychiatric hospital again. He has been alternately beguiled, troubled and tormented since childhood by visions of people-faces, visions that are entwined with the ancestral homelands of Northland and the dolphins that swim in the surrounding seas.Together Nikki and Joshua must travel home to confront the people-faces. Their journey takes them back to their childhood, and straight to their family's heart. In this sensitive, insightful and eerily atmospheric novel, Lisa Cherrington takes her professional knowledge, combines it with storytelling flair, and explores the difficult and complex life of a family affected by mental illness.
Lisa Cherrington (Ngati Hine, Ngapuhi) is the kaupapa Maori teaching clinician at Victoria University's School of Psychology and a private consultant psychologist who started writing creatively fifteen years ago. "I first wanted to be a writer at age ten," says Lisa. "But it was not until age thirty that I left full-time employment to spend more time writing". Lisa's short stories have been published in Womansight (1989) and Te Ao Marama (1995) - an anthology of Maori writing edited by Witi Ihimaera. In 2001 she was runner-up in the Sunday Star-Times short story competition for 'Hinemaru: Woman of the Many'. The People-faces is her first novel. "The People-faces", says Lisa, "is a narrative of my thesis - the voices and history behind people who may be seen as having a mental health disorder. I wanted the voice to not be from me as a psychologist, but rather characters that were involved with the 'patient' and the voice of the person - in this case Joshua". Lisa was born in Turangi, and grew up in Palmerston North. As well as her Maori ancestry Lisa also has Niuean, Samoan, Irish and Danish whakapapa. For the past three years Lisa has lived in Titahi Bay, Wellington. Lisa studied at Massey University completing her masters thesis - a comparison study of Maori and Pakeha patients diagnosed with schizophrenia - and the clinical psychology diploma programme. She has worked as a clinical psychologist in a variety of settings focusing primarily on Maori mental health.