Michael King

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Michael King, OBE (December 15, 1945March 30, 2004) was a widely respected New Zealand popular historian, author and biographer.


Educated at Sacred Heart College in Auckland and St Patrick's College at Silverstream (Wellington), he later studied history at Victoria University of Wellington before working as a journalist at the Waikato Times newspaper in Hamilton.

He earned degrees in history at Victoria, (BA 1967) and the University of Waikato (MA 1968), and gained his Ph.D. at Waikato (1978). In 1997 he received an honorary D.Litt. at Victoria.

King was well-known for his knowledge of Māori culture and history, although not Māori himself. He was lauded for writing about New Zealanders, for New Zealanders, presenting them with themselves and their country as had never before been done. He wrote biographies of Te Puea Herangi, Whina Cooper, Frank Sargeson (1995) and Janet Frame (2000). More general works are Being Pakeha (1985), Moriori (1989), and The Penguin History of New Zealand (July 2003) which by February 2004 was into its seventh edition. In all, he wrote, co-wrote and edited more than 40 books.

An essay on John Money was posthumously published in an exhibition catalogue for the Eastern Southland Gallery, located in the provincial town of Gore, New Zealand. King had planned to write a full biography on Money, but had lacked funding to do so in his lifetime.


King and his second wife Maria Jungowska were killed when their car crashed into a tree and caught fire near Maramarua, on SH2 in the north Waikato. The cause of the crash was reported by the police at the time to be a complete mystery as speed was not a factor and investigators have little idea why the car would veer off a straight road. A Coroner's inquest into the deaths determined that the accident was most likely caused by driver inattention.[1]


He was joint winner of the 2003 Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement. Throughout his career he won the Feltex Television Writers' Award (1980), Winston Churchill Fellowship (1980),Fulbright Visiting Writers' Fellowship (1988), Order of the British Empire (1988), NZ Literary Fund Award (1987 and 1989), Wattie Book Of The Year Award (1984 and 1990), NZ Book Award (non fiction) (1978) and was Burns Fellow at Otago University (1998-99). His book The Penguin History of New Zealand was overwhelmingly the Readers' Choice at the 2004 Montana NZ Book Awards.


  • Moko: Maori Tattooing in the 20th Century (1972)
  • Make it news: how to approach the media (1974)
  • Face value: a study in Maori portraiture (1975)
  • Te Ao hurihuri: Aspects of Maoritanga (ed.) (1975)
  • Te Puea: a biography (1977)
  • Tihe mauri ora: Aspects of Maoritanga (ed.) (1978)
  • New Zealand: Its Land and Its People (1979)
  • The Collector: A Biography of Andreas Reischek (1981}
  • Being Maori - John Rangihau (1981)
  • New Zealanders at War (1981)
  • A place to stand: a history of Turangawaewae Marae (1981)
  • G.F. von Tempsky, artist and adventurer (with Rose Young) (1981)
  • New Zealand in colour (1982)
  • Maori: A Photographic and Social History (1983)
  • Whina: A Biography of Whina Cooper (l983)
  • Te Puea Herangi: from darkness to light (1984)
  • Being Pakeha: An Encounter with New Zealand and the Maori Renaissance (1985)
  • Auckland (with Eric Taylor) (1985)
  • Kawe korero: A guide to reporting Maori activities (1985)
  • Death of the Rainbow Warrior (1986)
  • New Zealand (1987)
  • After the War: New Zealand since 1945 (1988)
  • One of the boys?: changing views of masculinity in New Zealand (1988)
  • Apirana Ngata: e tipu e rea (l988)
  • Moriori: A People Rediscovered (1989)
  • A Land Apart: The Chatham Islands of New Zealand (1990)
  • Pakeha: The quest for identity in New Zealand (1991)
  • Hidden Places: A Memoir in Journalism (1992)
  • Coromandel (1993)
  • Frank Sargeson: A Life (1995)
  • God's Farthest Outpost: A History of Catholics in New Zealand (1997)
  • Nga iwi o te motu: One thousand years of Maori history (1997)
  • Being Pakeha Now: reflections and recollections of a white native (1999)
  • Wrestling with the Angel: A Life of Janet Frame (2000)
  • Tomorrow comes the song: A Life of Peter Fraser (with Michael Bassett) (2000)
  • Tread Softly For You Tread On My Life: new & collected writings (2001)
  • An Inward Sun: The World of Janet Frame (2002)
  • At the Edge of Memory: A family story (2002)
  • Penguin History of New Zealand (2003)

See also


  1. ^ Boyes, Nicola (February 25, 2005). "Historian's death puzzles coroner". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2008-06-08. Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links