2022 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate
Widely considered one of our nation’s greatest writers, Paula has received numerous fellowships, international residencies and awards for her work, including best work of fiction at both the NZ Post Book Awards and Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Awards in 2012 for her novel Rangatira. Her stories are widely anthologised and broadcast, and her 2008 collection, Forbidden Cities, was a regional finalist in the Commonwealth Prize. Much of her work explores race, diaspora and displacement, and cities around the world as locations of transformation and transgression.
Paula is an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland, where she directs the Master of Creative Writing. She is also the is the founder of the Academy of New Zealand Literature – an organisation which develops international platforms for writers of fiction, creative non-fiction and poetry – and Wharerangi, the Māori literature hub. She holds degrees from universities in New Zealand, the U.K. and the US, including a D.Phil from the University of York and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
Paula is a fierce advocate for new voices, co-editing the acclaimed anthologies Ko Aotearoa Tātou and A Clear Dawn: New Asian Voices from Aotearoa NZ, the first-ever anthology of Asian NZ writing. In 2019 she received an MNZM for services to literature, the same year she was the Katherine Mansfield fellow in Menton, France.
“Usually I’m asked to assess for or present awards to other people. It was the happiest of surprises to be given one myself, especially as it was decided by my peers. I am very moved by this, and feel honoured to be a Laureate.”