World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Witi Ihimaera

Article Id: WHEBN0000447727
Reproduction Date:

Title: Witi Ihimaera  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Whale Rider, Paikea, Māori culture, WITI, Reed Publishing
Collection: 1944 Births, 20Th-Century New Zealand Novelists, 21St-Century New Zealand Novelists, Distinguished Companions of the New Zealand Order of Merit, Gay Writers, Lgbt Writers from New Zealand, Living People, Māori Culture, New Zealand Male Novelists, New Zealand Māori Writers, People Educated at Gisborne Boys' High School, People Educated at the Church College of New Zealand, People from the Gisborne District, Recipients of the Queen's Service Medal, Te Aitanga-A-Māhaki, University of Auckland Faculty, Victoria University of Wellington Alumni
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Witi Ihimaera

Witi Tame Ihimaera-Smiler
Witi Ihimaera in October 2012
Born (1944-02-07) 7 February 1944
near Gisborne, New Zealand
Occupation Writer
Nationality New Zealand
Ethnicity Māori

Literature portal

Witi Tame Ihimaera-Smiler, DCNZM, QSM (born 7 February 1944), generally known as Witi Ihimaera , is a New Zealand author, and is often regarded as one of the most prominent Māori writers alive.


  • Biography 1
  • Literature 2
    • Plagiarism 2.1
  • Awards and Honors 3
  • Works 4
    • Novels 4.1
    • Short stories 4.2
    • Short story collections 4.3
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Ihimaera was born near Gisborne, a town in the east of New Zealand's North Island and is of Māori descent (Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki) and Anglo-Saxon descent through his father, Tom. He attended Church College of New Zealand in Temple View, Hamilton, New Zealand. He was the first Māori writer to publish both a novel[1] and a book of short stories. He began to work as a diplomat at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1973, and served at various diplomatic posts in Canberra, New York, and Washington, D.C. Ihimaera remained at the Ministry until 1989, although his time there was broken by several fellowships at the University of Otago in 1975 and Victoria University of Wellington in 1982 (where he graduated with a BA).[1] In 1990, he took up a position at the University of Auckland, where he became Professor, and Distinguished Creative Fellow in Māori Literature. He retired from this position in 2010.

In 2004, his nephew Gary Christie Lewis married Lady Davina Windsor, becoming the first Māori to marry into the British Royal Family.


Most of Ihimaera's work consists of short stories or novels. He has written a considerable number of stories, with the most notable being works such as Yellow Brick Road, Tangi, Pounamu, Pounamu, and The Whale Rider (the last of which became a film of the same name).[1] His stories generally portray Māori culture in modern New Zealand. His work often focuses on problems within contemporary Māori society.

In 1995, Ihimaera published Nights in the Gardens of Spain, a semi-autobiographical work about a married father of two daughters coming out. He had come out to himself in 1984 and began the work, but out of sensitivity to his daughters, did not finish or publish it then.[2] Nights In The Gardens Of Spain was filmed in 2010 (Director; Katie Wolfe - run time 76-mins featuring Calvin Tuteao in the central role of 'Kawa' - see IMDB [2]) with changes to the book, making the central character Maori rather than Pakeha (European) to more closely reflect Ihimaera's life. Making the main character in the book Pakeha was Ihimaera's way of keeping his personal experiences somewhat concealed. In an article in The Sunday Star Times (January 23, 2011) to coincide with the screening of the film on Television New Zealand (Sunday 23 January 2011 - TV 1, 8.30pm) Ihimaera was quoted as saying the change "was quite a shock to me because I had always tried to hide, to say this is a book that could be about 'everyman', this is not a specific story. So it (the film) is actually nearer to the truth than I would like to admit."


In 2009 book reviewer Jolisa Gracewood detected short passages from other writers, especially from historical sources, used without acknowledgment in Ihimaera's historical novel The Trowenna Sea, a work on the early history of Tasmania.[3][4] Confronted by The Listener magazine with this evidence, Ihimaera apologized for not acknowledging the passages, claiming this was inadvertent and negligent and pointing to many pages of other sources that he had acknowledged.[5] The University of Auckland investigated the incident and ruled that Ihimaera's actions did not constitute misconduct in research, as the actions did not appear to be deliberate and Ihimaera had apologised.[6] Emeritus Professor of History Keith Sorrenson, however, said Ihimaera had admitted plagiarizing material from his works in his earlier book, The Matriarch (1986), and said the Trowenna Sea incident showed he had "learnt nothing".[5] Ihimaera removed the book from public sale, purchasing the remaining stock himself. A revised edition, with fuller acknowledgements, originally planned for 2010, has since been cancelled.[7]

Awards and Honors

He was made a Distinguished Companion in the New Zealand Order of Merit (equivalent to a knighthood in the old honours system) in 2004 for services to literature.[1][8]



  • Tangi (1973)
  • Whanau (1974)
  • The Matriarch (1986)
  • The Whale (1987)
  • Bulibasha: King of the Gypsies (1994)
  • Nights in the Gardens of Spain (1995)
  • The Dream Swimmer (1997)
  • Woman Far Walking (2000)
  • The Uncle's Story (2000)
  • Sky Dancer (2004)
  • Whanau II (2004)
  • The Rope of Man (2005) - features 'Tangi', and its sequel 'The Return'
  • Band of Angels (2005)
  • The Trowenna Sea (2009)[9]
  • The Parihaka Woman (2011)

Short stories

  • His First Ball (published 1989 in Dear Miss Mansfield)

the makutu on Mrs Jones

Short story collections

  • A Sense of Belonging
  • Pounamu Pounamu
  • Tangi
  • The New Net Goes Fishing
  • Growing Up Māori
  • Yellow Brick Road
  • Return To Oz
  • Ask the Posts of the House
  • Dustbins
  • The Whale Rider
  • Big Brother Little Sister
  • The Escalator
  • Gathering of the Whakapapa
  • Clenched Fist
  • Catching Up
  • Passing Time
  • Kingfisher Come Home
  • Masques and Roses
  • Where's Waari?
  • The Thrill of Falling

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Kiriona, Renee (7 June 2008). "Queen's Birthday Honours 2004: Witi Ihimaera".  
  2. ^ Aldrich, Robert; Wotherspoon, Garry (2002). Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History.  
  3. ^ Gracewood, Jolisa (2009). "Keeping it real".  
  4. ^ Black, Joanne (2009). "Other people's words".  
  5. ^ a b Savage, Jared (20 November 2009). "'"Plagiarists 'like drug cheats.  
  6. ^ "Witi Ihimaera admits plagiarism". New Zealand Herald. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  7. ^ Harper, Paul (21 September 2010). "Controversial novel not republished". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "Queen's Birthday Honours 2004".  
  9. ^ Megan Nicol Reed (18 October 2009). "'I write for the New Zealand I wish it to be'".  

Giffuni, Cathe (1990). "Witi Ihimaera: Bibliography," New Literatures Review, Number 20.

External links

  • Māori-language biography, including list of works
  • New Zealand Book Council biography
  • Extensive bibliography in the New Zealand Literature File
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.