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Patricia Grace


Patricia Grace 1

Patricia Grace DCNZM QSO’s Biography

Last Updated:
28/05/2024, 10:40 am
Arts Foundation Icon 2005
Ngāti Raukawa & Te Āti Awa
“I don’t have a sense, when I begin a new work, of standing at the beginning of a long road and looking along it to an end. Instead I have a sense of sitting in the middle of something – like sitting in the centre of a set of circles or a spiral – and reaching out to these outer circles, in any direction, and bringing stuff in. That’s what makes it all closer to me, being in the centre and having all I need within reach around me and piecing it together.”

Patricia Grace DCNZM QSO was born in Wellington in 1937. Her first collection of short stories, Waiariki, won the PEN/Hubert Church Award for Best First Book of Fiction. Her first novel Mutuwhenua (1978) was the first to be published by a Māori woman writer and was short listed in the fiction section of the New Zealand Book Awards that same year.

As Grace made a name for herself in New Zealand, her work was also being published in the United States, United Kingdom, Holland, Spain, Italy and Germany. Grace’s writing has been translated into many languages, including the notable translation of Potiki into Māori by Huia Publishers in 2007. In 1985, she was awarded the Victoria University of Wellington writing fellowship, where she completed her second novel, Potiki (1986).

In the years following Patricia Grace published numerous titles to great acclaim. One of her short stories, The Dream, was made into a feature-length television film in te reo Māori in 1989. Patricia wrote the screenplay for the resulting work E Tipu E Rea - Te Moemoea, a significant milestone for the development of Māori broadcasting. Patricia was awarded the Queen's Service Order in 1988 and an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Victoria University in 1989.

In 2006, Prime Minister Helen Clark awarded Grace with the NZ$60,000 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in 2006. Grace was acknowledged in 2007 in the Queen's birthday honours, becoming a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for her services to literature. In the same year, she was selected as the 2008 Laureate of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, announced at a ceremony at the University of Oklahoma.

Milestones & Awards