Picture of author.

Witi Ihimaera

Author of The Whale Rider

67+ Works 2,509 Members 78 Reviews 7 Favorited

About the Author

Witi Ihimaera was born in Gisborne, New Zealand on February 7, 1944 into a Maori family of Mormons. After completing a B.A. in English, he worked as a journalist in New Zealand and started writing fiction. His first collection of short stories, Pounamu Pounamu, was published in 1972 and his first show more novel, Tangi, was published in 1973. His other works include Whanau, The Matriarch, The Whale Rider, The Dream Swimmer, Sky Dancer, The Trowenna Sea, and The Parihaka Woman. In 1982 he coedited an anthology of Maori writing, Into the World of Light, and continues to be a champion of literature in English by Maoris. In 2015 his title's Maori Boy: A Memoir and White Lies made The New Zealand Best Seller List and in 2016 it won the New Zealand Award general nonfiction award. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Disambiguation Notice:

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(mao) VIAF:PND:119050277

Image credit: Witi Ihimaera. Photo by Simon Birkenfeld (Manatū Taonga).


Works by Witi Ihimaera

The Whale Rider (1987) 1,431 copies, 46 reviews
The Matriarch (1986) 104 copies, 1 review
Pounamu Pounamu (1972) 102 copies, 5 reviews
The Uncle's Story (2000) 86 copies, 4 reviews
Bulibasha King of the Gypsies (1994) 86 copies, 1 review
Nights in the Gardens of Spain (1995) 57 copies, 1 review
Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold by Māori Writers (2019) — Editor — 49 copies, 2 reviews
Tangi (1973) 46 copies
The Parihaka Woman (2011) 41 copies, 4 reviews
Sky Dancer (2003) 39 copies, 2 reviews
Black Marks on the White Page (2017) 33 copies, 2 reviews
The Dream Swimmer (1997) 24 copies
The Whale Rider [youth edition] (2005) — Author — 23 copies, 1 review
Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood (2014) 23 copies, 2 reviews
Ihimaera: His Best Stories (2003) 22 copies
Whanau (1974) 21 copies
Where's Waari? (2000) 17 copies
The Rope of Man (2005) 16 copies
Woman Far Walking (2000) 15 copies
The new net goes fishing (1977) 14 copies, 1 review
The Trowenna sea : a novel (2009) 14 copies, 1 review
Tangi & Whanau (1994) 12 copies
This is New Zealand (1998) 12 copies
Growing up Māori (1998) 12 copies
White Lies (2013) 11 copies, 2 reviews
Whanau II (2004) 11 copies
Auckland : The city in literature (2003) — Editor — 10 copies
Dear Miss Mansfield (1989) 9 copies
The Little Kowhai Tree (2002) 9 copies
The thrill of falling: stories (2012) 8 copies, 1 review
Get on the Waka: Best Recent Maori Fiction (2007) — Editor — 7 copies
Maori 6 copies
Band of Angels (2005) 5 copies
Te Ata: Maori Art from the East Coast, New Zealand (2002) — Contributor — 5 copies
The Legendary Land (1994) 4 copies
Native Son (2019) 4 copies
Beautiful New Zealand (1998) 4 copies
Beautiful South Island (1998) 3 copies
Land, sea & sky (1994) 3 copies
Mahana (2017) 3 copies
Te Ao Marama volume 4 (1994) 2 copies
the astromancer (2022) 2 copies, 1 review
Out there : portraits of the Hero Parade (2001) — Author — 1 copy
On Top Down Under (1998) 1 copy
Nga Kupu Wero (2023) 1 copy
Le Patriarche (2020) 1 copy
Vaalaratsanik (2014) 1 copy

Associated Works

Whale Rider [2002 film] (2002) — Contributor — 236 copies, 7 reviews
The Mammoth Book of Gay Short Stories (1997) — Contributor — 102 copies, 1 review
Some Other Country: New Zealand's Best Short Stories (1984) — Contributor — 72 copies, 1 review
The Picador Book of Contemporary New Zealand Fiction (1996) — Contributor — 32 copies
Without Reservation: Indigenous Erotica (2003) — Contributor — 26 copies, 3 reviews
One World of Literature (1992) — Contributor — 24 copies
The Flamingo Anthology of New Zealand Short Stories (2000) — Contributor — 21 copies
Skins: Contemporary Indigenous Writing (2000) — Contributor — 19 copies, 1 review
Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English (2003) — Contributor — 16 copies


(45) 20th century (15) @others (20) animals (19) anthology (41) audiobook (14) coming of age (30) culture (16) drama (14) DVD (53) family (34) fantasy (34) feminism (12) fiction (319) film (13) gay (18) indigenous (13) literature (23) made into movie (12) magical realism (18) Maori (196) Maori author (14) Maori characters (15) movie (14) New Zealand (362) New Zealand author (21) New Zealand fiction (39) New Zealand literature (40) novel (26) poetry (12) read (34) short stories (79) to-read (104) whales (71) Witi Ihimaera (23) YA (24) young adult (35) ↑LoC (12) ♠♠♥♥♦♦• (16) (20)

Common Knowledge



ANZAC Author Challenge June 2015- Kim Scott & Witi Ihimaera in 75 Books Challenge for 2015 (July 2015)


This took quite a while to get through - some very confronting pieces in here. There are also some amusing, well written stories - such as Nic Low's satirical take on mining in treasured spaces.
The inclusion of artwork from indigenous artists is pleasing and the relationship between Lisa Reihana's work and Witi Ihimaera's piece form an interesting and moving conversation between the two mediums.
Some pieces fail to stand up to the high marks set by their companions in the book but overall a very well put together collection that suits coffee table as much as bookshelf.… (more)
JonTurnerNZ | 1 other review | Jul 23, 2024 |
Paired with an audio copy. Most chapters end with the Maori words "Hui e, haumi e, taiki e" which are a lyrical chant meaning "let it be done". Set in New Zealand in Whangara. When Kahu was born, her grandfather refused to teach her to Maori ways because she was a girl. But in the end, she was the one to save the culture.
nancynova | 45 other reviews | Jul 2, 2024 |
An evocative collection of short stories revolving around Māori traditions and values in a modern setting, told from various points of view in a small town. The pride and underlying love in community is at constant - and perhaps a losing - struggle with the slow disconnect of the young people to their culture as Pākehā influences overwhelm their lives. It presents the reality and evolution of indigenous cultures in today's world with matter-of-fact clarity, not pessimistically nor optimistically. Another great addition to Māori literature.… (more)
kitzyl | 4 other reviews | Jul 31, 2023 |
Maori chief Koro Apirana is an old man who feels his health and strength fading. He is desperate to have an heir of his own blood to pass on the things the next leader must know. But when his grandson produces the first child of the next generation, it is a disappointing girl. Koro vows to have nothing to do with her and to look outside his immediate family for the next heir.

The girl, Kahu, makes her great grandfather the center of her life and loves him like no other. She also has inherited some of the mystical Maori powers – apparently she can speak to the whales, echoing the Maori legend of Paikea who led his people to New Zealand on the back of a whale.

The story is told by Rawiri, Kahu’s uncle who is finding his own balance between the Maori traditions and the modern world. At one point he goes to work in Papua New Guinea, where, he finds that although the plantation owner’s son is his best friend, other dark-skinned people in the country are treated poorly.

The third set of characters are a pod of whales – we are inside the pod and hear their thoughts as they travel from the Antarctic northward to the fateful island of New Zealand.

This is much more than a children’s story, although it is often depicted as such. It’s a beautiful combination of the exquisitely sad and the beautiful with a strong element of humor thrown in (Go Nanny Flowers!) , which as the author says in an interview, is like “putting an arrow in the bum”(shooting someone with an arrow in the ass) to keep it from being too overwhelming to read.

5 stars with a few tears at the end.
… (more)
streamsong | 45 other reviews | Jul 23, 2023 |



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Associated Authors

Whiti Hereaka Contributor, Editor
Tina Makereti Contributor
D. S. Long Editor
Paula Morris Contributor
Robert Sullivan Contributor
Briar Wood Contributor
Nic Low Contributor
Kelly Joseph Contributor
Jacqueline Carter Contributor
Hēmi Kelly Contributor
Clayton Te Kohe Contributor
Apirana Taylor Contributor
Frazer Rangihuna Contributor
Renée Contributor
Keri Hulme Contributor
Hone Tuwhare Contributor
Briar Grace-Smith Contributor
Patricia Grace Contributor
David Geary Contributor
Kelly Ana Morey Contributor
Maurice Gee Contributor
Frank Sargeson Contributor
C. K. Stead Contributor
Tina Shaw Contributor
James K. Baxter Contributor
Maurice Shadbolt Contributor
Sister S'pacific Contributor
Peter Wells Contributor
Stephanie Johnson Contributor
Allen Curnow Contributor
Albert Wendt Contributor
Bruce Mason Contributor
Sarah Quigley Contributor
Anna Jackson Contributor
Glenn Colquhoun Contributor
Denis Baker Contributor
Diane Brown Contributor
Kevin Ireland Contributor
John Pule Contributor
Steve Braunias Contributor
Janet Frame Contributor
Merimeri Penfold Contributor
Bob Orr Contributor
Charlotte Grimshaw Contributor
Ngarino Ellis Contributor
Serena Kearns Cover designer
Jay Laga'aia Narrator
Sabine Schulte Translator
Bruce Potter Illustrator


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