Tusiata Avia

ANZL Member


Leading Pacific poet, performer and children’s author Tusiata Avia has travelled the world performing her award winning one-woman poetry show based on her 2004 collection Wild Dogs Under My Skirt. Her latest collection The Savage Coloniser Book (VUP, 2020) won the Mary and Peter Biggs prize for poetry at the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, making Tusiata the first Pacific woman to win this prize in the Awards’ 53-year history. Tusiata’s other poetry collections are Bloodclot (VUP, 2009), and Fale Aitu Spirit House (VUP, 2016) which was shortlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Writer Nafanua Kersel describes Tusiata’s poetry as ‘a full-body plunge in winter seas. It’s breathtaking, skin tingling and teeth rattling. I feel alive.’

Recently Tusiata was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to poetry and the arts in the 2020 Queens Birthday Honours. She has also held a number of residencies including the Fulbright Pacific Writer’s Fellowship at University of Hawai’i (2005) and the Ursula Bethel Writer in Residence at University of Canterbury (2010) and was the 2013 recipient of the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award. She taught creative writing and performing arts at the Manukau Institute of Technology.

Tusiata’s collection The Savage Coloniser Book is a personal and political reckoning in which she addresses James Cook in fury. She unravels the 2019 Christchurch massacre, walking us back to the beginning. She describes the contortions we make to avoid blame. And she locates the many voices that offer hope.




Tusiata Avia’s website

Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page

NZ Electronic Poetry Centre poet page

Victoria University Press author page


Stuff interview: Tusiata discusses The Savage Coloniser Book and her inspiration (May, 2021)

TVNZ Breakfast: Monique Fiso and Tusiata Avia reflect on wins at Ockham Book Awards (May, 2021)

ANZL review of The Savage Coloniser Book (Oct, 2020)


New releases by Tusiata Avia

The Savage Coloniser Book (poetry)

Published by Victoria University Press on October 8, 2020

Bibliography: Tusiata Avia



Fale Aitu Spirit House (Victoria UP, 2016)

Bloodclot (Victoria UP, 2009)

Wild Dogs Under My Skirt (Victoria UP, 2004)



Mele and the Fofo (For children: 2004)

The Song (For children: 2002)






'The thirty-five of us were in the country of dream-merchants, and strange things were bound to happen.' - Anne Kennedy

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