Born in Invercargill in 1946, Manhire grew up in small hotels in Otago and Southland, an experience beautifully evoked in his short memoir, Under the Influence. His first book of poems, The Elaboration, was published in 1972, and contained drawings (including a portrait of the poet) by artist and fellow Icon Ralph Hotere. He has published many collections of poems, winning the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry five times. He is also the author of a prize-winning collection of short stories. He was New Zealand’s inaugural poet laureate, and in 2004 was the Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton, France.
Manhire has been a significant figure in promoting New Zealand poetry and literature, not only through his internationally-acclaimed creative writing course at Victoria University of Wellington but also through his work as a critic, anthologist and broadcaster, as well as in his appearances at writing festivals around the world.
In 2004 he received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award and in June he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In that same year he received an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Otago. Manhire’s book Lifted won the Poetry Category of the 2006 Montana Book Awards. He lives in Wellington.