Witi Ihimaera

Witi Tame Ihimaera-Smiler DCNZM, QSM, (b.1944) is a diplomat turned novelist, who became known as the first Maori to publish both a book of short stories and a novel. 

His literary career expanded to include over thirty novels, and many collections of short stories and children's stories. He writes plays and screen plays and acts as an editor. The conversion of his 1987s novel 'Whale Rider' to Film was an international success.

Of Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki (Gisborne) heritage, he was initially educated at Church College in Hamilton, then employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs, including several overseas postings, finishing in 1989. He has several degrees, and spent the from 1990 to 2010 as a Professor at Auckland University.   

The 2004 award 'Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit' is eligible for conversion to a knighthood, but Ihimaera has chosen not to. 


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