Featured Author - June 2022

Whiti Hereaka is a New Zealand treasure. She’s a New Zealand playwright, novelist, screenwriter, barrister, and solicitor, and the country’s most recent winner of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards – Jann Medlicott Acorn prize for fiction.


In the void of time, Kurangaituku, the bird-woman, tells the story of her extraordinary Life - the birds who first sang her into being, the arrival of the Song Makers and the change they brought to her world, her life with the young man Hatupatu, and her death. But death does not end a creature of imagination like Kurangaituku. In the underworlds of Rarohenga, she continues to live in the many stories she collects as she pursues what eluded her in life. This is a story of love - but is this love something that creates or destroys? Kurangaituku is a contemporary retelling of the story of Hatupatu from the perspective of the traditional 'monster'- bird-woman Kurangaituku. For centuries, her voice has been absent from the story, and now, Kurangaituku means to claim it.


Seventeen-year-old Riki is worried about school and the future, but mostly about his girlfriend, who has suddenly stopped texting him. But on his way to see her, he’s hit by a bus and his life radically changes. Riki wakes up one hundred years earlier in Egypt, in 1915, and finds he’s living through his great-great-grandfather’s experiences in the Māori Contingent. At the same time that Riki tries to make sense of what’s happening and find a way home, we read transcripts of interviews Riki’s great-great-grandfather gave in 1975 about his experiences in this war and its impact on their family. Gradually we realise the fates of Riki and his great-great-grandfather are intertwined.


Bugs is about the unfolding lives of three young people in their last year of school in small-town New Zealand. Life is slow, and it seems not much happens in town or in Jez and Bugs's lives. But when Stone Cold arrives, the three come to different conclusions about how to deal with being trapped in a small town and at the bottom of the heap.

Pūrākau : Māori myths retold by Māori writers

Ka mua, ka muri... Ancient Māori creation myths, portrayals of larger-than-life heroes and tales of engrossing magical beings have endured through the ages. Some hail back to Hawaiki, some are firmly grounded in New Zealand and its landscape. Through countless generations, the stories have been reshaped and passed on. This new collection presents a wide range of traditional myths that have been retold by some of our best Maori wordsmiths. Take a fresh look at Papatuanuku, a wild ride with Maui, or have a creepy encounter with Ruruhi-Kerepo, for these and many more mythical figures await you. The contributors are: Jacqueline Carter, David Geary, Patricia Grace, Briar Grace-Smith, Whiti Hereaka, Keri Hulme, Witi Ihimaera, Kelly Joseph, Hemi Kelly, Nic Low, Tina Makereti, Kelly Ana Morey, Paula Morris, Frazer Rangihuna, Renee, Robert Sullivan, Apirana Taylor, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Clayton Te Kohe, Hone Tuwhare, Briar Wood.

Photo credit:

Portrait of Whiti Hereaka, New Zealand Māori writer taken by Tabitha Arthur, 2021 https://www.tabithaarthur.com/CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Previous NZ Book Award Winning authors: