Paula Morris

ANZL Member

Photo credit: Mike Brooke

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.

Her latest books are a personal essay, On Coming Home (Bridget Williams Books, 2015) and False River (Penguin Random House, 2017), a diverse collection of fiction and nonfiction pieces that range the world – from America, to Antwerp to Aotearoa.

In her upcoming work Shining Land: Looking for Robin Hyde Paula Morris collaborates with distinguished photographer Haru Sameshima to focus on the New Zealand journalist, poet, fiction writer and war correspondent Robin Hyde, exploring three locations important to her difficult life and ground-breaking work. This beautifully considered small book richly rewards the reader and stretches the notion of what the book can do. Shining Land is due out in late 2020 through Massey University Press.




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

Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship media release (Dec, 2018)

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

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

NZ Listener interview regarding Rangatira (July, 2012)

Radio New Zealand interview (June, 2012)

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)



Landfall  (Expatriate issue: 2007)

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

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

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