Keri Hulme

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Keri Hulme (born 9 March 1947) is a New Zealand novelist, poet, and short-story writer. Her novel, The Bone People, won the Man Booker Prize in 1985. She was the first New Zealander to win this award.[1] Hulme's writing explores themes of isolation, postcolonial and multicultural identity, and Maori, Celtic, and Norse mythology. She has also written under the pen name Kai Tainui.

Early life[edit]

Hulme was born in Christchurch, in New Zealand's South Island. The daughter of John W., a carpenter, and Mere, a credit manager, she was the eldest of six children.[2][3] Her parents were of English, Scottish, and Māori (Kai Tahu) descent. "Our family comes from diverse people: Kai Tahu, Kāti Māmoe (South Island Maori iwi); Orkney islanders; Lancashire folk; Faroese and/or Norwegian migrants," Hulme told Contemporary Women Poets[4] Her early education was at North New Brighton Primary School and Aranui High School. Her father died when she was 11 years old.

Hulme worked as a tobacco picker in Motueka after high school. She began studying for an honours law degree at the University of Canterbury in 1967, but left after four terms and returned to tobacco picking, continuing to write throughout this period.[2]


By 1972, she decided to begin writing full-time, but, despite family support, was forced to go back to work nine months later. She continued writing, some of her work appearing under the pseudonym Kai Tainui. During this time, she continued working on her novel, The Bone People, ultimately published in February 1984. Before it was accepted by the Spiral Collective, a feminist literary and arts collective in New Zealand, several publishers rejected the manuscript.[5] It won the 1984 New Zealand Book Award for Fiction and the Booker Prize in 1985.[6][2] Hulme was the first New Zealander to win the Booker.

Hulme held the 1977 Robert Burns Fellowship and became writer-in-residence at the University of Otago in 1978, and at the University of Canterbury in 1985. She has served as the Patron of New Zealand Republic since 1996.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Hulme lives alone in Ōkārito.[8] She identifies as atheist, aromantic, and asexual.[1]


  • Katherine Mansfield Memorial Award, 1975
  • New Zealand Literary Fund grant, 1975, 1977, 1979
  • Maori Trust Fund Prize, 1978
  • East-West Centre Award, 1979
  • Book of the Year Award, 1984
  • Mobil Pegasus Prize, 1985
  • Booker Prize, 1985
  • Scholarship in Letters, 1990




  • The Silences Between (Moeraki Conversations) (Auckland University Press, 1982)
  • Lost Possessions (Victoria University Press, 1985)
  • Strands (Auckland University Press, 1992)

Other works[edit]

  • Te Kaihau: The Windeater (George Braziller, 1986), short story collection
  • Te Whenua, Te Iwi/The Land and The People ed. Jock Philips (Allen & Unwin/Port Nicholson Press, 1987) includes Hulme's short autobiographical piece "Okatiro and Moeraki"
  • Homeplaces: Three Coasts of the South Island of New Zealand (Hodder & Stoughton, 1989), autobiography with photographs by Robin Morrison
  • Ahua. Libretto of an opera, music by Anthony Ritchie. The story of the Ngāi Tahu ancestor Moki, commissioned by the Christchurch City Choir[9]
  • Stonefish (Huia Publishers, 2004) short stories and poems

Adaptation into film[edit]

Hulme's short story Hooks and Feelers was made into a short film of the same name that starred Bridgette Allen.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Hulme, Keri - Oxford Reference". 2016. doi:10.1093/acref/9780191823510.001.0001. ISBN 9780191823510. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Hulme, Keri". New Zealand Book Council. April 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  3. ^ Contemporary Authors Online (2012). "Keri Hulme". GALE Literature Resource Center. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  4. ^ "Keri Hulme." Contemporary Women Poets. St. James Press, 1998
  5. ^ "Hulme, Keri - Oxford Reference". 2016. doi:10.1093/acref/9780191823510.001.0001. ISBN 9780191823510. Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  6. ^ Keri Hulme." Contemporary Poets, 7th ed. St. James Press, 2001
  7. ^ "People Involved". New Zealand Republic. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  8. ^ "| New Zealand Book Council". Retrieved 3 March 2018.
  9. ^ Dunbar, Anna (16 February 2000). "Settling scores". Christchurch Press. p. 34.
  10. ^ Defining New Idioms and Alternative Forms of Expression, Edited by Eckhard Breitinger Page 145, 146 Ann-Mari Hedbäck, Keri Hulme: Scriptwriter and Storyteller
  11. ^ The New Zealand Archive of Film, Television and Sound Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Catalogue → F6624, Hooks and Feelers

External links[edit]