The reclusive West Coast writer Keri Hulme won the internationally prestigious Booker Prize in 1985 for her first novel, The bone people. Traces of her mixed Māori, Celtic and Norse heritage appear in all of her writing.
Patricia Grace is a key figure in the emergence of Māori fiction in English since the 1970s and has made a significant contribution to contemporary New Zealand literature. Exploring themes such as loss, isolation and family, she portrays a variety of Māori people and ways of life, and is notable for her versatile narrative and descriptive techniques. Her best-known novel, Potiki (1986), won the New Zealand Book Award for Fiction and has been translated into several languages.
Janet Frame, Otago’s most distinguished writer (seen here in 1963), was raised and educated in Ōamaru, attending Waitaki Girls’ High School. Much of her work evokes her childhood in that town, notably her first novel Owls do cry (1955), and To the is-land (1982), the first volume of her autobiography.
Witi Ihimaera (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki) was the first Māori writer to publish both short stories and a novel in English. His family has its roots in Waituhi in Poverty Bay, near Rongopai, a meeting house famed for its painted interior. An imagined Waituhi has been an important element in Ihimaera’s fiction. Here Ihimaera (centre) is photographed with members of the Waituhi Trust in 1986.
Novelist Elizabeth Knox is one of a number of younger writers whose works use locations both within and beyond New Zealand. Her best-known novel, The vintner’s luck (1998), is set in 19th-century France. It has won numerous awards and has been published in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands and Israel.