Paula Morris

ANZL Member

Photo credit: Colleen Lenihan

Paula Morris (Ngati Wai, Ngati Whatua) was born in Auckland, and has spent much of her adult life in the UK or the US. Her short fiction has been widely anthologised and her first story collection, Forbidden Cities (2008), was a regional finalist for the Commonwealth Prize. In her stories, wrote Kirsty Gunn, Morris ‘slips effortlessly and naturally across time zones and hemispheres, criss-crossing themes of race and culture with a cool, knowing style and claiming an ethnic territory that’s all her own.’

Her eight novels include Queen of Beauty (2002), winner of the Hubert Church First Book Prize at the 2003 Montana NZ Book Awards, a narrative of interwoven stories spanning three generations of a large Maori family. Hibiscus Coast (2005) is an art-world thriller set in Auckland and Shanghai. Lydia Wevers, writing in the Listener, said: ‘Not only is Morris a seriously good writer – the tone doesn’t jar, the characters are satisfyingly complex, and there is an interesting reflection of the way we are now – she can also deliver entertainment … Like Dickens, she can tell a great story but also “catch” the world we live in, with all its complications and ambiguities’.

Rangatira (2011), fiction winner at the 2012 NZ Post Book Awards and Nga Kupu Ora Maori Book Awards, was based on the true story of an 1863 visit to England by a group of Maori, and described as ‘a triumph of characterisation’ (Listener) and an ‘extraordinary literary achievement and probably the best of recent New Zealand historical novels’ (New Zealand Books).

Paula was appointed Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to literature in the 2019 New Years Honours List. This same year she was the recipient of the prestigious Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship. She spent the first half of 2019 in France on various projects including journal articles based on her work for the Creative Research Initiative; a play set in France in 1925 drawing on the true story of the writer Jean Rhys working as a ‘ghost’ for Rudolph Valentino’s mother-in-law; and research towards a major non-fiction project, about islands, ports and exiles.

False River (Penguin Random House, 2017) is a diverse collection of fiction and nonfiction pieces that range the worldfrom America to Antwerp to Aotearoaand subjects, including Laura Ingalls Wilder, Billy the Kid, Robert Johnson and Hurricane Katrina.

Paula’s nonfiction includes two long-form essays: On Coming Home (Bridget Williams Books, 2015) and Shining Land: Looking for Robin Hyde (Massey University Press, 2020), a collaboration with photographer Haru Sameshima that was longlisted for the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. With Michelle Elvy and James Norcliffe Paula co-edited the acclaimed anthology Ko Aotearoa Tātou (Otago University Press, 2019); with Alison Wong she co-edited A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa NZ (Auckland University Press, 2020), the first-ever anthology of Asian NZ writing.



Visit Paula’s website

Paula’s blog isTrendy But Casual’

Paula on Twitter

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page


Auckland University staff profile

Penguin Books author page

Bridget Williams Books (BWB) author page

ANZL review of A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand (May, 2021)

ANZL review of Shining Land: Looking for Robin Hyde (Nov, 2020)

ANZL review of Ko Aotearoa Tātou: We Are New Zealand (Nov, 2020)

Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship media release (Dec, 2018)

NZ Listener interview discussing On Coming Home (May, 2015)

NZ Herald interview (Feb, 2015) [Dominion Post] interview (June, 2015)

NZ Listener interview discussing Rangatira (July, 2012)

Radio New Zealand interview (June, 2012)

New releases by Paula Morris

Nine Lives (essays)

Published by Upstart Press on November 11, 2021

A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand (anthology)

Published by Auckland University Press on May 12, 2021

Ko Aotearoa Tātou | We Are New Zealand (anthology)

Published by Otago University Press on October 20, 2020

Bibliography: Paula Morris


False River (Short fiction/memoir: Penguin Random House, 2017)

The Eternal City (YA: Point/Scholastic, 2015)

Hene and the Burning Harbour (Children: Penguin, 2013)

Unbroken (YA: Point/Scholastic, 2013)

Rangatira (Historical fiction: Penguin, 2011)

Dark Souls (YA: Point/Scholastic, 2011)

Ruined (YA: Point/Scholastic, 2009)

Forbidden Cities (Short stories: Penguin, 2008)

Trendy but Casual (YA: Penguin, 2007)

Hibiscus Coast (YA: Penguin, 2005)

Queen of Beauty (Fiction: Penguin, 2002)


Creative Nonfiction

On Coming Home (Memoir: BWB, 2015)



Short Fiction:

‘La Rondine’ in New Writing Dundee 8 (2015)

‘False River’ in Five Dials (2014)

‘Women, Talking’ in Takahe (2013)

‘Great Long Story’ in Ora Nui (2012)

‘Premises’ in The New Zealand Herald (Jan, 2010)

‘Great Long Story’ in Gutter (Aug, 2011)

‘Mon Desir’ in Harvard Review 35 (2008)

‘Red Christmas’ in Witness 21 (2007)

‘Argyle’ [abridged] in the New Zealand Listener (2005)

‘Like a Mexican’ in Barrelhouse 2 (2005)

‘Like a Mexican’ [abridged] in the NZ Listener (Jan, 2004)

‘Rangatira’ in Landfall 208 (Otago UP, 2004)

‘The Party’ in Metro (2003)

‘Mon Desir’ in Landfall 204 (Otago UP, 2002)

‘Bright’ in Hayden’s Ferry Review (2000)

‘Heroics’ in JAAM 14 (2000)


‘Interesting Tension: Observation from the Literary Brothel’ (essay) in The Lumiére Reader (2007)

‘Interesting Tension: Observation from the Literary Brothel’ (essay) in Landfall 208 (2004)



‘False River’ in Six Shorts 2015: The finalists for The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award (Sunday Times, 2015)

‘The Mexican’ in The AUP Anthology of New Zealand Literature (Auckland UP, 2012)

‘Premises’ in Lost in Translation (ed. Marco Sonzogni: Random House, 2010)

‘The Last Good Day of Autumn’ in The Best New Zealand Fiction 6 (Vintage, 2009)

‘Red Christmas’ in Best New Zealand Fiction III (ed. Fiona Farrell: Random House, 2007)

‘Rangatira’ in Get on the Waka! Best Recent Maori Fiction (ed. Witi Ihimaera: Reed, 2007)

‘Rangatira’ in Best New Zealand Stories Vol II (ed. Fiona Kidman: Random House, 2005)

‘Many Mansions’ in Huia Short Stories 4: Contemporary Maori Writing (Huia, 2001)

‘Geraniums’ in Huia Short Stories 4: Contemporary Maori Writing (Huia, 2001)

‘Douglas Street’ in Huia Short Stories 4: Contemporary Maori Writing (Huia, 2001)



A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa NZ ([with Alison Wong] Auckland University Press, 2020)

Ko Aotearoa Tātou ([with Michelle Elvy and James Norcliffe] Otago University Press, 2019)

Landfall  (Expatriate issue: 2007)

The Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories (Penguin, 2008)

'I felt energised by the freedom of 'making things up’' - Maxine Alterio

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