Famous New Zealander Writers

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Find out more about the greatest New Zealander Writers, including Peter Jackson, Richard Curtis, Katherine Mansfield, Andrew Niccol and Fran Walsh.
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 1 
Katherine Mansfield
(One of the Most Highly Regarded Short Story Writers of the 20th Century)
Katherine Mansfield
3
Birthdate: October 14, 1888
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Wellington
Died: January 9, 1923

Katherine Mansfield was a New Zealand modernist writer best remembered for her short stories. Her life and career inspired several films, plays, novels, and TV series. In 1973, she became the subject of a BBC miniseries titled A Picture of Katherine Mansfield. In 2011, actress Kate Elliott played Mansfield in a TV biopic titled Bliss.

 2 
Richard Curtis
(Screenwriter, Film director, Film producer, Television producer, Writer)
Richard Curtis
4
Birthdate: November 8, 1956
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Richard Curtis is a New Zealand-born British screenwriter, film director, and producer. Widely regarded as one of Britain's most popular and successful comedy screenwriters, Curtis is best known for writing romantic comedy films like Bridget Jones's Diary, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Love Actually. Richard Curtis is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award.

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton
4
Birthdate: March 4, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Whakatane

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton is a New Zealand-born woman who was wrongfully accused of killing her nine-week-old daughter, Azaria. The child went missing when her family was on a camping trip, and Lindy was accused of killing the child after Azaria’s bloody clothes were found. She was later officially pardoned by the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. 

 4 
Fran Walsh
(Screenwriter, film producer who has won three Academy Awards for the final film of the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)
Fran Walsh
3
Birthdate: January 10, 1959
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Fran Walsh is a New Zealand film producer and screenwriter. Along with her partner Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh has produced films like The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, which earned her three Academy Awards in 2004.

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 5 
Peter Hillary
(Mountaineer, Philanthropist and Writer)
Peter Hillary
3
Birthdate: December 26, 1954
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Auckland

The son of legendary New Zealand mountaineer Edmund Hillary, Peter Hillary followed in his father’s footsteps and became a successful mountaineer. He and his father were the first father-son duo to scale Mt. Everest. An author and philanthropist, too, he has helped people in the Mt. Everest region in Nepal.

 6 
Ngaio Marsh
(Writer, Theatre director, Novelist, Autobiographer, Screenwriter, Stage actor, Film actor)
Ngaio Marsh
3
Birthdate: April 23, 1895
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Christchurch
Died: February 18, 1982

Ngaio Marsh was a New Zealand theatre director and crime writer. Counted among the Queens of Crime alongside other crime writers like Agatha Christie, Marsh is best remembered for her famous character, Roderick Alleyn. She received several prestigious awards and was made an inductee of the Detection Club in 1974. The Ngaio Marsh Award is presented annually in her memory.

 7 
Dianna Fuemana
(New Zealand Pacific Writer, Director and Performer)
Dianna Fuemana
3
Birthdate: 1973 AD
Birthplace: New Zealand

New Zealand actor Dianna Fuemana was 16 when she quit school and got married. She later got divorced before she began dating Australian actor Jay Ryan. The mother of three is known for plays such as Frangipani Perfume and Mapaki and has written and directed a few short films, too.

 8 
Christine Leunens
(Known for Bestselling Novels Such as 'Primordial Soup' and 'Caging Skies')
Christine Leunens
3
Birthdate: December 29, 1964
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hartford, Connecticut, United States

American-born New Zealand-Belgian author Christine Leunens is best known for her bestselling novels such as Primordial Soup and Caging Skies, with the latter inspiring the critically acclaimed movie Jojo Rabbit. Interestingly, she had initially worked as a print model to fund her first book. She has also been a screenwriter.

 9 
Sonja Yelich
(New Zealand Poet and Mother of Pop Singer 'Lorde')
Sonja Yelich
3
Birthdate: February 26, 1965
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand

Sonja Yelich is a New Zealand poet best known as the mother of the popular singer-songwriter, Lorde. Sonja Yelich achieved popularity as a poet when she released her first collection of poems titled Clung which earned her the prestigious Jessie Mackay Award at the New Zealand Book Awards in 2005.

 10 
Janet Frame
(Novelist, Essayist, Poet, Writer, Short Story Writer)
Janet Frame
3
Birthdate: August 28, 1924
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Dunedin
Died: January 29, 2004

Initially trained to be a schoolteacher, Janet Frame later soared to fame with her short stories, poems, and her 3-part memoir, including An Angel at My Table. Misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, she spent almost a decade in mental hospitals. She wrote most of her works while in psychiatric care.

 11 
Eleanor Catton
(New Zealand Novelist and the Youngest Winner of the Booker Prize)
Eleanor Catton
3
Birthdate: September 24, 1985
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, Canada

Canadian-born New Zealand author Eleanor Catton soared to fame with her debut award-winning novel The Rehearsal. She has also been a scriptwriter, adapting one of her books into a series and writing for films such as Emma. She also offers a grant to budding authors with great talent.

 12 
Ryan Nelsen
(Former New Zealand Professional Football Player and Former Head Coach)
Ryan Nelsen
3
Birthdate: October 18, 1977
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Christchurch

Once one of the best footballers of New Zealand, Ryan Nelsen mostly played as a defender. He has captained the Blackburn Rovers and the New Zealand national team. Considered one of Major League Soccer’s best players, he has also coached Toronto FC in the past.

 13 
Witi Ihimaera
(New Zealand Novelist)
Witi Ihimaera
2
Birthdate: February 7, 1944
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Gisborne, New Zealand

New Zealand author Witi Ihimaera started his career as a newspaper writer and then worked as a postal worker, before scripting history as the first Maori to publish a novel and a collection of short stories. His novel The Whale Rider was later made into an award-winning film.

 14 
Margaret Mahy
(New Zealand Author of Children’s and Young Adult Books)
Margaret Mahy
2
Birthdate: March 21, 1936
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Whakatane, New Zealand
Died: July 23, 2012

One of the most popular children’s authors from New Zealand, Margaret Mahy was a librarian for a decade. The Order of New Zealand winner has also won the Carnegie Medal twice. She was in her 60s when she got tattooed to help her write about a tattooed character in a book.

 15 
Keri Hulme
(New Zealand Novelist, Poet and Short-Story Writer Known for Her First Novel, 'The Bone People')
Keri Hulme
2
Birthdate: March 9, 1947
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Christchurch, New Zealand
Died: December 27, 2021

New Zealand author Keri Hulme is best known for her Booker Prize-winning debut novel The Bone People. She has also used the pseudonym Kai Tainui to write books and has mostly dealt with themes related to the culture of Maori people. The Maori author initially worked as a tobacco picker.

 16 
James K. Baxter
(One of New Zealand’s Best Known and Best Loved Poets)
James K. Baxter
2
Birthdate: June 29, 1926
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Dunedin, New Zealand
Died: October 22, 1972

One of New Zealand’s best-known poets, James K. Baxter was inspired by Romantic and British modernist poets and mythology. He also penned the popular radio play Jack Winter’s Dream, apart from various other plays and social and literary criticism. He used his Maori name Hemi later in life.

 17 
Chloe Gong
(Chinese-born New Zealand Author of Young Adult Fiction)
Chloe Gong
0
Birthdate: December 16, 1998
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Shanghai, China

Born in China, author Chloe Gong moved to New Zealand at age 2. She is perhaps best known for her novel These Violent Delights, which became a New York Times bestseller and was made into a novel series. She has also started the Foul Lady Fortune series.

 18 
Michael King
(Historian & Biographer)
Michael King
2
Birthdate: December 15, 1945
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wellington
Died: March 30, 2004

Michael King was a New Zealand biographer, historian, and author. He is remembered for writing a book titled Penguin History of New Zealand, which became a best-seller and the most famous New Zealand book in the year 2004. A much-respected writer, King won several literary awards, such as the Feltex television writers' award and Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement.

 19 
Patricia Grace
(New Zealand Writer)
Patricia Grace
2
Birthdate: August 17, 1937
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

New Zealand author Patricia Grace is regarded as one of the most significant figures in Maori literature. Though half-Maori and half-European, she identified as a Maori. Initially a teacher, she later turned to full-time writing. She soared to fame as a children’s author and is also known for her novels and short stories.

 20 
Ruth Park
(New Zealand-Australian Writer)
Ruth Park
2
Birthdate: August 24, 1917
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Died: December 14, 2010

Ruth Park was a New Zealand–born Australian writer whose works earned her numerous awards in both Australia and internationally between 1946 and 2004. She is perhaps best remembered for her 1948 novel The Harp in the South, which was translated into 37 languages. Also known as a children's writer, Ruth Park was honored with the prestigious Dromkeen Medal in 2008.

 21 
Fleur Adcock
(New Zealand Poet and Editor)
Fleur Adcock
2
Birthdate: February 10, 1934
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Papakura, New Zealand

Fleur Adcock is a New Zealand poet and editor. She is of English and Northern Irish ancestry and has lived much of her life in England. She studied Classics at Victoria University of Wellington and began her career as an assistant lecturer at the University of Otago. She has worked as a freelance writer since 1980.

 22 
Eric Partridge
(New Zealand-British Lexicographer Best Known for His a Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English)
Eric Partridge
2
Birthdate: February 6, 1894
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Waimata Valley, New Zealand
Died: June 1, 1979

Eric Partridge was a New Zealand–British lexicographer whose writing career was interrupted by his service in the Royal Air Force and the Army Education Corps during World War II. Over the course of his literary career, Partridge wrote over 40 books and his papers are archived at institutions like the University of Birmingham and the University of San Francisco.

 23 
Joy Cowley
(Children's fiction, including the popular series of books Mrs. Wishy-Washy)
Joy Cowley
0
Birthdate: August 7, 1936
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Levin, New Zealand Levin, New Zealand

Joy Cowley is a New Zealand writer best known for writing children's books, including the famous book series Mrs. Wishy-Washy. She started her career by writing novels for adults and achieved international prominence when her 1967 book Nest in a Falling Tree was adapted into a 1971 film titled The Night Digger. Joy Cowley is a recipient of many awards.

 24 
Maurice Gee
(New Zealand Novelist Best Known for His Realistic Evocations of New Zealand Life)
Maurice Gee
1
Birthdate: August 22, 1931
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Whaketane, New Zealand

Maurice Gee is a New Zealand writer and novelist. Counted among New Zealand's most prolific and distinguished authors, Gee has won numerous awards including the prestigious Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement and the Margaret Mahy Award. Maurice Gee's 1978 novel Plumb is regarded as one of the best New Zealand novels of all time.

 25 
Nicky Hager
(Investigative Journalist and Author)
Nicky Hager
0
Birthdate: 1958 AD
Birthplace: Levin, New Zealand

Nicky Hager is a New Zealand investigative journalist best known for his highly influential books like Secret Power and Dirty Politics. His investigative work has earned him a place in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists; Nicky Hager is one of only two members from New Zealand.

 26 
Kapka Kassabova
1
Birthdate: 1973
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Sofia, Bulgaria

Kapka Kassabova is a writer and poet whose works have earned her several prestigious awards such as a Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Highland Book Prize. Many of her books have also been shortlisted for numerous awards including the Baillie Gifford Prize, the Duff Cooper Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Awards.

 27 
Hone Tūwhare
(New Zealand Poet)
Hone Tūwhare
1
Birthdate: October 21, 1922
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Kaikohe, New Zealand
Died: January 16, 2008

One of the most celebrated Maori poets of New Zealand, Hone Tuwhare started his career as an apprentice with the New Zealand Railways. He was also involved in trade unionism and was part of the 1975 Maori Land March. He was also the second Te Mata Poet Laureate.

 28 
Frank Sargeson
(New Zealand Short Story Writer and Novelist)
Frank Sargeson
1
Birthdate: March 23, 1903
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hamilton, New Zealand
Died: March 1, 1982

Frank Sargeson was a New Zealand novelist and short story writer. An influential literary figure in New Zealand, Sargeson's work continues to be recognized as an influence on New Zealand literature. Frank Sargeson is also remembered for his role in supporting and mentoring numerous young New Zealand writers, including Janet Paterson Frame.

 29 
Allen Curnow
(New Zealand Poet and Journalist Best Known for His Book of 'New Zealand Verse')
Allen Curnow
1
Birthdate: June 17, 1911
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Timaru, New Zealand
Died: September 23, 2001

Allen Curnow was a New Zealand journalist and poet. He is best remembered for his 1945 work Book of New Zealand Verse, which is regarded as a milestone in New Zealand literature. Allen Curnow also contributed to publications like The New Zealand Herald and The Press. He was a recipient of several awards, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

 30 
Sylvia Ashton-Warner
(New Zealand Novelist, Non-fiction Writer and Poet)
Sylvia Ashton-Warner
1
Birthdate: December 17, 1908
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Stratford, New Zealand
Died: April 28, 1984

Sylvia Ashton-Warner was a New Zealand non-fiction writer, novelist, poet, and pianist. She is best remembered for her contributions as a teacher and her ideas for a child-based approach to the teaching of writing and reading are used and debated internationally today. Sylvia Ashton-Warner received numerous awards, including the New Zealand Book Award in 1980.

 31 
Douglas Stewart
1
Birthdate: May 6, 1913
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Eltham, New Zealand
Died: February 11, 1985

Douglas Stewart was a 20th-century Australian poet, writer, essayist, and editor. He served as the literary editor of the Australian magazine, The Bulletin, for two decades. He published 13 collections of poetry and numerous short stories, essays, and articles in his prolific career. He also edited several poetry anthologies. He received the Grace Leven Prize for Poetry in 1967. 

 32 
Maurice Shadbolt
(New Zealand Writer)
Maurice Shadbolt
1
Birthdate: June 4, 1932
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Died: October 10, 2004

Maurice Shadbolt was a New Zealand writer whose services to literature earned him the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the 1989 New Year Honours. He also won other awards, including the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Award on three occasions. Apart from writing 11 novels, two autobiographies, and four collections of short stories, Shadbolt was also an occasional playwright.

 33 
C.K. Stead
(New Zealand Poet and Novelist)
C.K. Stead
1
Birthdate: October 17, 1932
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand

C.K. Stead is a New Zealand writer best known for his novels, poems, short stories, and literary criticism. An internationally celebrated writer, Stead has received several prestigious awards such as the Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement and Sarah Broom Poetry Prize. C.K. Stead also served as the New Zealand Poet Laureate from 2015 to 2017.

 34 
Murray Chandler
(Chess player, Writer)
Murray Chandler
0
Birthdate: April 4, 1960
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Wellington, New Zealand

Murray Chandler is a New Zealand chess player who has represented New Zealand and England in international events. He earned the prestigious Grandmaster title in 1983. He is the only over-the-board grandmaster from New Zealand. Apart from being an internationally renowned player, Murray Chandler is also known as an occasional organizer of tournaments and chess writer.

 35 
Frederick Edward Maning
(New Zealander Writer and a Judge of the Native Land Court)
Frederick Edward Maning
1
Birthdate: July 5, 1812
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Jeanville, Ireland
Died: July 25, 1883

Frederick Edward Maning was a writer best remembered for his short books, History of the War in the North of New Zealand against the Chief Heke and Old New Zealand. Both books have become classics in New Zealand. Apart from working as a writer, Frederick Edward Maning also served as a judge of the Native Land Court.

 36 
Jane Mander
(New Zealand Novelist and Journalist Known for Her Realistic Novels About Her Native Land)
Jane Mander
1
Birthdate: April 9, 1877
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Ramarama, New Zealand
Died: December 20, 1949

Jane Mander was a New Zealand journalist and novelist best remembered for her 1920 novel The Story of a New Zealand River, which achieved immense popularity in the UK and the US. The book also had a major influence on Jane Campion's 1993 film The Piano. 

 37 
Keith Sinclair
(New Zealand Poet)
Keith Sinclair
1
Birthdate: December 5, 1922
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Auckland, New Zealand
Died: June 20, 1993

Sir Keith Sinclair was a New Zealand historian and poet who achieved widespread popularity for his debut book The Origins of the Maori Wars. His 1959 book A History of New Zealand is considered a classic in New Zealand history. In 2005, Sir Keith Sinclair was named in the New Zealand's Top 100 History Makers list.

 38 
Lydia Wevers
(Literary historian whose research focussed on New Zealand literature and print culture, as well as Australian literature)
Lydia Wevers
0
Birthdate: March 19, 1950
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hengelo, Netherlands
Died: September 4, 2021

Lydia Wevers was a New Zealand literary critic, literary historian, book reviewer, and editor. Apart from reviewing books, Wevers also reviewed a number of newspapers, magazines, and literary journals. For her services to literature, Lydia Wevers was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit during the 2006 Queen's Birthday Honours.    

 39 
Jason Roberts
(Chef)
Jason Roberts
0
Birthdate: February 5, 1974
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: New Zealand
 40 
Lisa Bryan
(Food Writer)
Lisa Bryan
0
Birthdate: August 31, 1976
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: New Zealand