"For Tuwhare, words are musical notes of bells, of nose flutes. They are the rattle of milk bottles in crates, the hiss of tyres on a wet road, the stir of trees creaking in a storm."Quote from a review by David Eggleton, in Janet Hunt's Hone Tuwhare: A biography. "His reputation is richly deserved. His deft constructions and a seemingly bottomless drawer of observations, both charitable and pointed, are hallmarks of his style...His work is also distinctive because almost without exception, the works are individually addressed, whether to people, ideas, objects or events. It is eminently readable in the sense that it can either be digested in silence on the bus while homeward bound, or bellowed alone in the privacy of one's home."Peter Kitchin, March 24, 2008

Hone Tuwhare is often described as having brought an exciting new dimension to New Zealand poetry: his voice communicateda distinctly Maori perspective marked by a lyrical response to thelandscape. His work remained committed to Maori issues, though also highlighting multicultural and working-class concerns, suggesting a world of shifting, multiple identities.

Born in 1922 in Kaikohe, Hone began to write whilst an apprentice at the Otahuhu Railway Workshops, encouraged by fellow poet R. A. K. Mason.

His first collection, No Ordinary Sun (1964), was the first book of poetry by a Maori writer in English. Now in its tenth impression, it remains one of the most widely read individual collections of poetry in New Zealand literary history.

While in Dunedin as a Burns Fellow (1969), Hone met painter Ralph Hotere, who provided the illustrations for his next four volumes: Come Rain Hail (1970), Sap-Wood & Milk (1972), Something Nothing (1974) and Making a Fist of It: Poems and Short Stories (1978).

During the 1970s Hone became involved in Maori cultural and political initiatives. His international reputation also grew: there were invitations to visit both China and Germany, leading, among other opportunities, to the publication of Was wirklicher ist als Sterben in 1985.

While his earlier poems were kept in print, new work was constantly added. Hone's play, In the Wilderness Without a Hat, was published in 1991. Three further collections of poetry followed: Short Back and Sideways: Poems & Prose (1992), Deep River Talk (1993), and Shape-Shifter (1997). In 1998 Janet Hunt wrote Hone Tuwhare: A Biography published by Godwit Press. A year later he was named New Zealand's second Te Mata Poet Laureate, the outcome of which was Piggy-Back Moon (2002).

The Arts Foundation recognised Hone with a prestigious Icon Award in 2003.  The Arts Foundation Icon Awards - Whakamana Hiranga, honours senior New Zealand artists for their life-long achievements.   The Award is considered the Arts Foundation's highest honour and is limited to a living circle of twenty artists.

In the same year Hone has was awarded a Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement for poetry. The other winners were Janet Frame for fiction; and Michael King for non-fiction.

In 1998, Tuwhare received an honorary Doctor of Literature from Otago University and again in 2005 from the University of Auckland. Also in 2005, Steele Roberts published Oooooo.....!!!, a collection of diverse new poems.

Hone was the subject of a documentary The Return Home which screened at the Telecom Film Festival.  He hada compilation album of his poems set to music, featuring New Zealand musicians. Tuwhare the compilation album was also the basis for a special concert of top New Zealand recording artists at the 2006 NZ International Arts Festival.

Hone's Icon medallion (designed by John Edgar) and his Te Mata Estate Poet Laureate carved tokotoko, are housed at the Eastern Southland Gallery in Gore.

Words

2003
From Oooooo.....!!! a collection of Hone Tuwhare Poems, Published by Steele Roberts Publishers and written by Hone following the 2003 Icon Awards.
1922
Born in Kaikohe
1939
Apprentices at Otahuhu Railway
1964
Publishes first collection of poetry, No Ordinary Sun
1969
Burns Fellowship, Otago University
1985
DAAD scholarship to study in Germany
1989
In the Wilderness Without a Hat opens at Taki Rua Theatre, Wellington
1998
Honorary Doctor of Literature - Otago University
1999
Te Mata Poet Laureate
2002
Piggy-Back Moon shortlisted in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards
2003
Arts Foundation Icon Award;Inaugural Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement for poetry (one of three writers).
2005
Oooooo......!!!, Published by Steele Roberts;honourary Doctor of Literature degree - University of Auckland.
2008
Hone died in his sleep in Dunedin on Wednesday, 16 January, 2008
2012
Tuwhare whanau and Hone Tuwhare Charitable Trust purchase Hone's home in Kaka Point with the aim of tuning it into a writer's residency.

Awards