Witi Ihimaera was born in Gisborne and is of Te Aitanga-a-Mahaki descent. Witi has the distinction of being the first Māori writer to publish both a book of short stories and a novel. He began his working life as a labourer and postman and went on to a distinguished career as a diplomat and university lecturer. As well as authoring short stories and novels, Witi is an opera librettist and a playwright. In 2005 he wrote his first ballet. He is also a director at Learning Media. His novel Whale Rider
(1987) was made into an internationally acclaimed film.
- The Little Kowhai Tree illustrated by Henry Campbell (Huia 2002).
- Whale Rider adapted by Witi Ihimaera, illustrated by Bruce Potter (Reed 2005).
- The Amazing Adventures of Razza the Rat illustrated by Astrid Matijasevich (Reed 2006).
- Burns Fellowship, University of Otago 1975.
- Writing Fellowship Victoria University 1982.
- Arts Council Scholarship in Letters 1991.
- Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellow 1993.
- Honorary Doctorate of Literature Victoria University.
- New Zealand Book Council International Writers' Programme 2002.
- Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit 2004.
- Storylines Notable Book Awards 2006 Picture Books List for Whale Rider.
- Arts Foundation Laureate 2009.