Patricia Grace

ANZL Fellow

Photo credit: David White/FairfaxNZ

Jolisa Gracewood on Patricia Grace:

Patricia Grace has reshaped the literary landscape, creating space for the overlapping worlds her subjects inhabit: town and country, school and marae, home and away, peacetime and war, Māori and Pākehā and all the interwoven identities that make up Aotearoa.

The scope of her vision has widened in compass while always being anchored in place. In her first novel, Mutuwhenua: The Moon Sleeps (1978), a young woman moves from a rural town with her ‘footstep on every stone’ to a city like ‘a great loom weaving its tangles and tufts of people into haphazard multi-coloured fabric’. In Chappy (2015), people shuttle between Denmark, Japan, Hawai’i, and Aotearoa in pursuit of connection. Te ao Māori is the whole world, and vice versa.

As much as I love Grace’s novels, I have always been drawn back to her early stories, which I cherish in well-worn Penguin paperbacks. Models of economy, they capture moments in time and yet are ageless: the past is ever-present, and the future hovers behind the reader’s shoulder. A sister being fitted for a bridesmaid’s dress confronts small-town race relations in words that could have been said yesterday. A boy whizzing joyously downhill on a bike is a law unto himself, while harking forward to later stories of unlawful searches and why brown lives matter. Children explore a beach, as they always have and always will, ‘and see their words curl in under the waves’ furl, and watch the words hurled back fragmented at their feet retreating.’

Again and again, in her clear-eyed prose, Grace calls us to really look at the moment we happen to be passing through – and the people we’re sharing it with, or not. ‘No one can take your eyes from you,’ says Granny Rita to Matewai, in the short story ‘Parade’. Home from the city for a town carnival after two years away, Matewai is uneasy at the spectacle of her whānau performing for a Pākehā crowd that doesn’t fully get it.  A waiata sung together in the dark on the way home begins to restore her equilibrium, along with words from the elders: ‘It is your job, this. To show others who we are.’ This arc alone would make a fine story, but Grace counterpoints it with droll observations of how the Pākehā folk perform too, ‘smiling to show what kind of day it was.’ Readers of all backgrounds are invited to sit a while with discomfort, en route to empathy. The story is only a few pages long, but lasts all day – and lingers.

As if to prove that the shorter the work, the greater the effect of each word, alongside Grace’s classic picture books and writings for the school journal sits her 2012 submission to the Board of Inquiry on the Kāpiti Expressway. In a scant 450 words, it outlines her whakapapa claim to land the government was attempting to appropriate for motorway-building (the uncanny resemblance of this scenario to the plot of Pōtiki hasn’t gone unremarked). The prose is calm, tenacious, factual, with quiet glimmers of the personalities of the tūpuna invoked. And the last line echoes hard: ‘So little of our Māori freehold land remains in Māori hands.’ The case was eventually upheld by two separate courts; the land is now officially reserved, and the expressway will curve around it, rather than carve through. Even if all books turn to dust, the enduring power of Grace’s words will still be there for anyone who has eyes to see.



Ockham New Zealand Books Awards for General Non Fiction [finalist] (2022)

New Zealand Book Awards for Children & YA, Picture Book Award [finalist] (2016)

New Zealand Book Awards for Children & YA, Te Kura Pounamu Award (2016)

Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for Fiction [finalist] (2016)

Honoured New Zealand Writer at the Auckland Writers’ Festival (2014)

Neustadt International Prize for Literature (2008)

Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Literature (2007)

Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement (2006)

Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Awards (2005)

Montana New Zealand Book Awards, Deutz Medal for Fiction (2005)

Nielson Book Data New Zealand Booksellers’ Choice Award (2005)

Montana New Zealand Book Awards [finalist] (2002)

Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize (2001)

Booker Prize [longlist] (2001)

LiBeraturpreis in Frankfurt (1994)

Queen’s Service Order (1988)

Honorary DLitt, Victoria University (1989)

New Zealand Book Award for Fiction (1986)

Goodman Fielder Wattie Book of the Year Award [third] (1986)

Victoria University Writing Fellowship (1985)

PEN/Hubert Church Award for Best First Book of Fiction (1976)



Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page

Arts Foundation writer page


Penguin Books author page

Huia Books author page

Radio New Zealand interview following Te Waka Toi Awards (Sept, 2016)

The Spinoff interview (May, 2016) review of Chappy (June, 2015)

Radio NZ interview regarding Chappy (June, 2015)

New releases by Patricia Grace

From the Centre: A Writer’s Life (memoir)

Published by Penguin Random House on May 4, 2021

Bibliography: Patricia Grace



Chappy (Penguin Random House, 2015)

Haka (Children & YA: Huia, 2015)

Whiti te Rā! (Children & YA [Maori language edition]: Huia, 2015)

Ned and Katina (Penguin, 2009)

Maraea and the Albatrosses (Children’s: Penguin, 2008)

Ko Maraea Me Nga Toroa (Children’s [Maori language edition]: Penguin, 2008)

Small Holes in the Silence (Short stories: Penguin, 2006)

Tu (Penguin, 2004)

Dogside Story (Penguin, 2001; The Women’s Press, Great Britain, 2001)

Baby No-Eyes (Penguin (NZ) Ltd 1999; University of Hawaii Press, USA, 1999; The Women’s Press, Great Britain, 1999; German translation, Unionsverlag, Zurich 1999)

Ma Wai? (Children’s [with Kerehi Waiariki and Brian Gunson]: Manu Kopere and Huia Publishers 1998)

Ko Au Tenei (Children’s [with Kerehi Waiariki and Brian Gunson]: Manu Kopere and Huia Publishers, 1998)

Kei Te Retireti Au (Children’s: Huia Publishers, 1997)

Unter dem Manukabaum (Short stories for children: Nagel and Kimche 1995)

Collected Stories (Stories from first three collections: Penguin Books, 1994)

The Sky People (Short stories: Penguin Books, 1994; The Women’s Press, Great Britain, 1995; Translated as La Gente Del L’Argonauta, 2000)

Cousins (Penguin Books, 1992; The Women’s Press, Great Britain 1993; University of Hawaii Press, USA, 1998; German translation, Unionsverlag, Zurich, 1997; Loius Braille Book,  South Yarra, Vic, Australia)

Selected Stories (Stories from first three collections: Penguin Books, 1991)

Electric City & Other Stories (Short stories: Penguin, 1987; Electirique Citie, French translation by Jean Anderson and Anne Magnan-Park)

Potiki (Penguin Books, 1986; The Women’s Press, Great Britain 1987; University of Hawaii Press, USA 1995; Translated into Finnish, Kaantopiiri, Helsinki 1990; German, Unionsverlag, Zurich 1993; French, Arlea, 1993; Dutch, De Geus 1994; Spanish, Txalaparta Publishing House, 1999)

The Trolley (Children’s: Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd. 1993)

Te Toneke (Children’s [Maori language edition]: Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd, Puffin, 1993)

Tuna O Le Kapisivai Ma Tamaiti O Champion Street (Children’s [Samoan language edition]: Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd. Puffin 1988)

Te Tuna Watakirihi Me Nga Tamariki O Te Tiriti O (Children’s: Maori language edition]: Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd Puffin 1985)

Ahakoa He Iti / Ma Wai? / He Aha Te Mea Nui? / Ko Au Tenui (Children’s Maori Language Readers: Longman Paul, 1985)

Watercress Tuna and the Children of Champion Street (Children’s: Puffin, 1985, Longman Paul, Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd. 1984)

Ko Areta Me Nga Kawhai (Children’s [Maori Language edition]: Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd, 1984)

Areta and the Kahawai (Children’s: Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd. 1984)

The Kuia and the Spider (Children’s: Kidsarus 2 Inc. and Longman Paul 1981; Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd. Puffin 1981)

Te Kuia Me Te Pungawerewere (Children’s [Maori language edition]: Kidsarus 2 Inc. and Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd. Puffin 1981)

The Dream Sleepers & Other Stories (Short stories: Longman Paul, 1980; Penguin Books, 1986)

Mutuwhenua: The Moon Sleeps (Longman Paul, 1978; Penguin Books, 1986; Women’s Press Livewire 1988; Cambridge University Press 1991)

Waiariki & Other Stories (Short stories: Longman Paul, 1975; Penguin Books, 1986)


Creative Nonfiction

From the Centre: A Writer’s Life (Memoir: Penguin, 2021)

Ned and Katina (Penguin, 2009)

The Silent Migration (With Irihapeti Ramsden and Jonathan Dennis, Huia Publishers, 2001)


Anthologies & Journals

The Penguin Book of New Zealand War Writing (ed. Harry Rickets and Gavin McLean: Penguin Random House, 2015)

Anthology of New Zealand Literature (eds. Jane Stafford and Mark Williams: Auckland UP, 2012)

The Awa Book of New Zealand Sports Writing (ed. Harry Ricketts: Awa Press 2010)

Essential New Zealand Short Stories (ed. Bill Sewell: Random House, 2009)

Some other country: New Zealand’s Best Short Stories (ed. Bill Manhire: Victoria UP, 2008)

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

Myths of the 21st century (Reed, 2006)

Seven New Zealand Novellas (Reed, 2003)

Another 30 New Zealand Books for Children (ed. Barabara Else, illustrator David Elliot: Random House, 2002)

Where’s Waari (ed. Ihimaera: Reed Books, 2000)

30 New Zealand Children’s Stories (ed. Jo Noble: Random House, 2000)

Grand Stands (ed. Barbara Else: Vintage, 2000)

Small Packages (Longman, 2000)

The Flamingo Anthology of New Zealand Short Stories (ed. Michael Morrissey: Flamingo, 2000)

New Zealand Love Stories (Oxford UP, 1999)

Lake, Mountain, Tree (ed. Philip Temple: Godwit 1998)

Growing Up Maori (ed. Ihimaera:Tandem, 1998)

100 New Zealand Short Short Stories (ed. Lay:Tandem Press, 1997)

The Picador Book of Contemporary Fiction (ed. Fergus Barrowman: Picador, 1996)

Anna Rutherford’s Collection: Crossing and Journeys (ed. Duder/Nieuwenhuisen: Mammoth, 1995)

Short Stories from Australia & New Zealand (Cornelsen, 1995)

Tart and Juicy (ed. Gifkins:Vintage New Zealand, 1994)

Te Ao Marama Volume 4 (ed. Ihimaera: Reed NZ Ltd. 1994)

Burning Boats (ed. Marshall: Longman Paul, 1994)

New Zealand Short Stories (ed. O’Sullivan: Oxford UP, 1994)

The Storyteller – Short Stories From Around the World (ed. Barry/Griffen: Nelson Canada, 1992)

My Father and Me: New Zealand Women Remember (ed Hanson:Tandem Press, 1992)

The Puffin NZ Story Book (ed. Gawith: Penguin (NZ), 1991)

Falling off the Edge of the World (ed. Gawith: Penguin (NZ) Ltd. 1991)

Tabasco Sauce and Icecream (ed. Wevers: McMillan (NZ), 1990)

Our Own Country (ed. Kedgley: Penguin (NZ), 1989)

A Woman’s Life (ed. Else/Roberts: Penguin (NZ), 1989)

Six by Six (ed. Manhire: Victoria UP, 1989)

In Deadly Earnest (ed. McNaughton: Century Hutchison, 1989)

Contemporary NZ Short Stories (ed. Davis/Haley: Penguin (NZ), 1989)

Goodbye to Romance (ed. Webby/Wevers: Allen and Unwin 1989)

Island Magazine (Salamanca Place, Hobart, Australia, 1988)

Women’s Work (ed. McLeod/Wevers: Oxford UP, 1985)

Some Other Country (ed. McLeod/ Manhire: Bridget Williams Books, 1984, 1992)

New Zealand Short Stories (ed. Wevers: Oxford University Press, 1984)

New Zealand Now (ed. Gadd: Longman Paul, 1983)

Ten Modern New Zealand Short Story Writers (ed. Meikle: Longman Paul, 1976)

New Zealand Short Stories (ed. O’Sullivan: Oxford 1975)

Short Stories by New Zealanders, Two (ed. Meikle: Longman Paul, 1974)

My New Zealand Junior (ed. Gadd: Longman Paul 1974)

NZ Listener Short Stories (ed. Manhire: Methuen, 1973)

Short Stories by New Zealanders, One (ed. Meikle: Longman Paul, 1972)

Contemporary Maori Writing (ed. Orbell: Reed 1970)

‘Inspiration is the name for a privileged kind of listening.’ - John Howard

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