First Nations Writing from New Zealand: Maori and Pacific Islands

ANZLL First Nations Literature Australian Reading List First Nations Writing from New Zealand: Maori and Pacific Islands First Nations Writing from around the World (Asia, Canada & the Americas, and Africa


Te Awhina Arahanga of Ngati Tuwharetoa Te Atihaunui A Paparangi Ngati Hauiti ki Rata, Rapuwai Waitaha Mamoe Tahu descent, in

  • Here We Are, Read Us: Women, disability and writing, edited by Trish Harris

Arapera Blank, of Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu descent, and winner of the Katherine Mansfield Award in 1959

  • For Someone I Love: A Collection of Writing by Arapera Blank

Lisa Cherrington of Maori, Niuean, Samoan, Irish and Danish descent

  • The People-Faces

Alan Duff of Ngāti Rangitihi and Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent

  • Once Were Warriors (1990, Once Were Warriors Trilogy #1),
  • One Night Out Stealing (1991)
  • What Becomes of the Broken Hearted? (1996, Once Were Warriors Trilogy #2) (On my TBR)
  • Jake’s Long Shadow (2002, Once Were Warriors Trilogy #3)
  • Who Sings for Lu? (2009)
  • Dreamboat Dad (2008)

James George of Nga Puhi descent (recommended by Mademoiselle S)

  • Ocean Roads
  • Hummingbird

Patricia Grace of Ngati Toa, Ngati Raukawa and Te Ati Awa descent

Whiti Hereakaof Ngāti TūwharetoaTe Arawa and Pākehā descent.

  • The Graphologist’s Apprentice shortlisted for First Book in the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Asia/Pacific region) 2011, see my ANZ LitLovers review

Keri Hulme of Kai Tahu, Kāti Mamoe descent

  • The Bone People (I read this when it won the 1985 Booker Prize, an unforgettable novel )

Witi Ihimaera of Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki descent

Debbie McCauley, (Pakeha) illustrator Debbie Tipuna and translator Tamati Waaka

Tina Makeriti of Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Te Ati Awa, Ngāti Maniapoto descent.

Kelly Ana Morey of Ngati Kuri descent

Paula Morris of Ngati Wai descent

Alice Tawhai of Tainui and Nga Puhi descent (recommended by Mademoiselle S)

  • Festival of Miracles
  • Luminous
  • Dark Jelly

Tim Tipine, of Ngati Kuri and Ngati Whatua heritage and was adopted into the Waitai-Tipene whanau as a toddler; illustrator Zak Waipara of Rongowhakaata, Ngati Porou, Ngati Ruapani, Ngati Kahungunu heritage and translator Rob Ruha of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui/Ngati Porou heritage


Marino Blank, of Ngati Porou and Ngati Kahungunu and Swiss descent

  • Crimson (a collection of poetry)

For more information about Maori writers visit the NZ Book Council.

Huia Publishers specialises in Maori authors, and Fishpond (NZ) have a wide range as well. (Sometimes they have second-hand copies of out-of-print editions). Links above are all to Fishpond Australia but I think they work for Kiwis just the same.

Pacific Islands

Thanks to Sandra and to Mademoiselle S for these contributions.

Alistair Te Ariki Campbell of NZ/Cook Island descent

  • The Frigate Bird, novel, regional finalist for the Commonwealth Writers Prize
  • Sidewinder
  • Tia
  • Fantasy with Witches

Sia Figiel from Samoa

  • Where We Once Belonged 1997 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize Best First Book for the South East Asia-South Pacific regions
  • They Who Do Not Grieve
  • Freelove (2016)

John Puhiatau Pule, an artist/novelist born in Niue and living in Auckland, New Zealand. His books are hard to find.

  • The Shark that Ate the Sun
  • Burn My Head in Heaven
  • Restless people

Pauline Vaeluaga Smith, of Samoan, Tuvaluan, Scottish and Irish descent

Albert Wendt, from Samoa, see also the NZ Book Council

  • The Adventures of Vela

Lani Wendt-Young (born in Apia, Samoa) is a published author living in Auckland, New Zealand. Follow the links from her Sleepless in Samoa blog to buy the books.

  • Telesa – The Covenant Keeper.
  • When Water Burns
  • The Bone Bearer
  • I am Daniel Tahi
  • Scarlet Lies
  • Scarlet Secrets
  • Afakasi Woman (A Collection of Short Fiction)
  • Pacific Tsunami – Galu Afi.

Pasifika Poetry:

Selina Tusitala Marsh: Of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English, Scottish and French descent. An honest and inspiring speaker, human-being and poet! 3 collections: Fast-talking PI (2009); Dark Sparring (2013); Tightrope (2017).

Tusiata Avia: Of Samoan descent. Wild Dogs Under my Skirt (2004) is a poetry collection that has also become a play! Tusiata Avia also writes for children.

For further background about the settlement of Polynesians in New Zealand, see Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson,

Via Mx Keira @khuolohan, these are recommendations for those interested in further explorations at an academic level.

  • Decolonising Methodologies, Research and Indigenous Peoples, by Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Ngāti Awa and Ngāti Porou, Māori
  • Indigenous Writes, a Guide to First Nations by Chelsea Vowel, a Métis writer and lawyer from near Lac Ste
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