For non New Zealanders Witi Ihimaera is a famous author I have been reading since I was 10 years old. I was amazed when I was living in Canada that an English major there told me she had studied him so he is known internationally. I had the good fortune to see an advertisement in the paper to see him live - so I went along tonight and heard him read some his work and answer questions. One of the best experiences of my life. He has a new movie that he showed us a preview of that will be coming out as a made for TV movie. And he has another movie following that one based on his book Bulibasha.
He was involved with some controversy this year when he "borrowed" some words from other authors for his latest book. They are going to put out a second edition with the appropriate credits.
His first book I read was Pounamu Pounamu
Anyways that is what made my day. Oh he wrote Whale Rider too.Pounamu Pounamu is classic Ihimaera. First published om 1972, it was immediately endorsed by Maori and Pakeha alike for its original stories that showed how important Maori identity is for all New Zealanders. As Katherine Mansfield did in her first collection In a German Pension (1911), and Janet Frame in The Lagoon (1951), Witi Ihimaera explores in Pounamu Pounamu what it is like to be a New Zealander - but from a Maori perspective. The seeds of Ihimaera's later works are first introduced in this ground-breaking collection: The Whale Rider in his story 'The Whale', The Rope of Man in 'Tangi', and the character of Simeon form Bulibasha, King of the Gypsies in 'One Summer Morning'; and the themes of aroha (love), whanaungatanga (kinship) and manaakitanga (supporting each other), which are so intergral to Ihimaera's work.