Graeme Lay

ANZL Member

Graham at Dusky Sound. Photo credit: Grahame Sydney


Graeme Lay was born in Foxton in 1944 and raised in Taranaki. An editor and prolific writer of fiction and non-fiction, he has published or anthologised over forty works, including novels for adults and young adults, short story collections and travel writing. He has been Books Editor for North & South magazine, and for over twenty years was secretary of the Frank Sargeson Trust.

Graeme began writing short stories in the late 1970s. His first novel, The Mentor, was published in 1978 and his first collection of short stories, Dear Mr Cairney, in 1985. Since then he has won the Lilian Ida Smith Award (1988), and was named Reviewer of the Year at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards (1998). Graeme is a three-time finalist in the New Zealand Travel Writer of the Year Award. He has also twice been a finalist in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, and was included on the 2002 Storylines Notable Senior Fiction List. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, he devised and edited five collections of New Zealand short stories.

From the 1990s onwards, after travelling to New Caledonia and Rarotonga, Graeme developed a deep interest in the islands of the South Pacific and the history and culture of that region’s peoples. Many of his books, both fiction and non-fiction, are set in the South Pacific. His latest novels, a trilogy based on the life of the famous English explorer James Cook, all became best sellers. They were: The Secret Life of James Cook (2012), James Cook’s New World (2013), and James Cook’s Lost World (2015).

Graeme’s most recent work is 100 Days that Mapped a Nation (New Holland, 2019), a commemerative Edition of Captain James Cook’s Voyages to New Zealand and the South Pacific. He is currently working on a novel based on the life of the young Joseph Banks.



Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page

New Zealand Society of Authors writer page

New Holland author page

HarperCollins author page

Awa Press author page

Radio NZ interview: Graeme discusses Fletcher the Bounty (Aug, 2017)

NZ Herald review of The Secret Life of James Cook (May, 2013)

Flash Frontier interview (Jan, 2012)

Bibliography: Graeme Lay



Fletcher the Bounty (HarperCollins, 2017)

James Cook’s Lost World (HarperCollins, 2015)

James Cook’s New World (HarperCollins, 2014)

The Secret Life of James Cook (HarperCollins, 2013)

Alice & Luigi (David Ling, 2006)

The Pearl of One Foot Island (Young adult: Penguin, 2004)

The Town on the Edge of the World (Random, 2002)

Return to One Foot Island (Young adult: Penguin, 2001)

Temptation Island (Cape Catley, 2000)

The Wave Rider (Young Adult: Penguin, 2000)

Leaving One Foot Island (Young adult: Penguin,1998)

Motu Tapu – Stories of the South Pacific (Short stories: Pasifika Press,1990)

The Fools on the Hill (Century Hutchinson, 1988)

Dear Mr Cairney (Short stories: Mallinson Rendell, 1985)

The Jacket (Young adult)

Are We There Yet? A Kiwi Kid’s Holiday Exploring Guide (Children: Whitcoulls, 2002))

Nanny Potaka’s Birthday Treat (Children)

The Mentor (Cape Catley, 1978)


Creative Nonfiction

100 Days that Mapped a Nation (New Holland, 2019)

A travel guide to Captain James Cook’s New Zealand: Exploring significant locations from Cook’s voyages of discovery (New Holland, 2017)

The Globetrotter Guide to New Zealand (seventh edition recently published)

The Cook Islands (with Ewan Smith)

New Zealand – A Visual Celebration [with Gareth Eyres] (Publishers Distribution Ltd, 2011)

Inside the Cannibal Pot (New Holland, 2007)

The Miss Tutti Frutti Contest – Travel Tales of the South Pacific (Awa Pres, 2004)

The Best of Auckland (New Holland, 2003)

Feasts & Festivals [with Glenn Jowitt] (New Holland, 2002)

Samoa [with Evotia Tamua] (Pasifika Press, 2000)

Pacific New Zealand (1996)

In Search of Paradise – Artists and Writers in the colonial South Pacific

Whangapoua – A History

Passages – Journeys in Polynesia (1993)

New Zealand – the Magnificent Journey (with Gareth Eyres)

The Globetrotter Travel Atlas of New Zealand



Home and Away (New Holland, 2012)

Way Back Then, Before We Were Ten (David Ling, 2009)

The New Zealand Book of the Beach 2 (David Ling, 2008)

The New Zealand Book of the Beach (David Ling, 2007)

Home – New Short Short Stories by New Zealand Writers [with Stephen Stratford](Black Swan, 2005)

Golden Weather – North Shore Writers Past & Present [with Jack Ross] (Cape Catley, 2004)

Boys’ Own Stories (Random House, 2004)

50 Short Short Stories by Young New Zealanders (Tandem, 2004)

An Affair of the Heart – A Celebration of Frank Sargeson’s Centenary [with Stephen Stratford] (Cape Catley,2003)

The Third Century (Tandem, 1999)

Another 100 New Zealand Short Short Stories (Tandem, 1998)

100 New Zealand Short Short Stories (Tandem,1997)

Metro Fiction (Metro Publishing Partnershiop, 1987)

'Many of our best stories profit from a meeting of New Zealand and overseas influences' - Owen Marshall

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