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“Hereaka’s skill lies not only in being an excellent storyteller but also in crafting characters who leap off the page, hold you down and insist that you listen to them."

Jackie Lee Morrison, Reading Room

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Whiti Hereaka is an award-winning novelist and playwright of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa, Tūhourangi, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tumatawera, Tainui and Pākehā descent, based in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. She holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington. Since her authorial debut, Whiti has written four critically-acclaimed novels, The Graphologist’s Apprentice (2010), Bugs (2013), Legacy (2018) and Kurangaituku (2021). She also co-edited, with Witi Ihimaera, an anthology of Māori myths, Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold by Māori Writers (2019). Whiti is a valued presence in a variety of institutions in Aotearoa. She has worked as a script writer for radio and television, taught Writing for the Young at Te Herenga Waka, Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters and is now a lecturer in creative writing at Massey University. She is also a board member of the Māori Literature Trust, Michael King Writers Trust and Playmarket. As part of the 2012 cohort of Te Papa Tupu, an incubator programme for emerging Māori writers, Whiti developed her novel Bugs. Since then, she has been an active mentor and judge on the programme and held a number of local residencies, including Randell Cottage and both the Michael King Writers Centre Summer and Māori residencies, and she was the 2021 NZSA Beatson Fellow. Whiti’s writing abilities have also been recognised on an international level, resulting in residency opportunities in the USA as part of the prestigious University of Iowa International Writing Program, 2013; in China at Sun Yat-sen University, 2018; and in Roxby Downs, South Australia Writers, 2019. In 2012, Whiti was the recipient of the Bruce Mason Playwriting Award, recognising the work of an outstanding emerging New Zealand playwright. Her play Rewena, conceived during her residency at the Michael King Writers Centre in 2012, has been performed on various stages in New Zealand and was published in the anthology Here/Now in 2015.



“With Kurangaituku … it felt as though the bird-woman had grabbed me and pulled me into her worlds—both the light and the dark—with a frantic insistence.”

— Jackie Lee Morrison, Newsroom


(2021, Huia Publishers)


A contemporary retelling of the story of Hatupatu from the perspective of the traditional “monster”—bird-woman Kurangaituku. For centuries, her voice has been absent from the story and now, Kurangaituku means to claim it.

WINNER, Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction, Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, 2022

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Legacy by Whiti Hereaka

“It’s moving, elegiac, thought-provoking. Legacy is everything that a novel should be.”

— Barbara Else,
New Zealand Review of Books, Autumn 2019


(2018, Huia Publishers)


Seventeen-year-old Riki is worried about school, the future, and his girlfriend, Gemma. On his way to see her, he’s hit by a bus and his life radically changes. Riki wakes up one hundred years earlier in Egypt, in 1915, and finds he’s
living through his great-great-grandfather’s experiences in the Māori Contingent.

WINNER, Best Young Adult Fiction, New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, 2019

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“[The Graphologist’s Apprentice is] immensely readable, with a vivid and economical language and a fine control of structure.”  

— Lawrence Jones,

Otago Daily Times


(2010, Huia Publishers)


Not content with her home life or workplace, January takes comfort in reading romance novels, but she is suddenly brought back to reality when she meets the secret keeper, Mae, a graphologist.

SHORTLIST, Best First Book in Commonwealth Writer’s Prize, South East Asia and Pacific, 2011


“Indeed, her whole prologue reads like an exercise in whaikōrero, in persuasive and eloquent rhetoric: silken, mesmeric.”

— David Eggleton,
New Zealand Review of Books, Spring 2019


co-edited with Witi Ihimaera

(2019, Penguin)


An anthology that brings together contemporary retellings of pūrākau by some of Aotearoa’s best Māori writers.

WINNER, New Zealand Heritage Book Awards for Fiction, 2019


“I’m not at all surprised that this book has made it to the NZ Post Book Awards final list. It’s a cracker of a novel.”

— Sue Eastman,
The Reader, Booksellers NZ


(2013, Huia Publishers)


Life is slow, and it seems not much happens in town or in Jez and Bugs’s lives. But when Stone Cold arrives, the three come to different conclusions about how to deal with being trapped in a small town and at the bottom of the heap.

HONOUR AWARD, Young Adult Fiction, New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, 2014




Climate Change Action Theater

Iowa and Hudson, USA; and Graz, Austria

September/October 2021

Fifty playwrights from around the world were invited to write a short play on a theme relating to climate change. In 2021, the theme was “Perspectives on the Green New Deal”.


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For book-related enquiries:

Huia Publishers

P.O. Box 12280

Thorndon, Wellington

New Zealand 6144

+64 4 473 9262

Please note that Whiti is not receiving manuscripts to review or providing mentorship at this time.

For theatre-related enquiries:


PO Box 9767

New Zealand 6141

+64 4 382 8462

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