Peter Wells (filmmaker)

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Peter Wells MNZM
Born 1950 (age 66–67)
Nationality New Zealand
Notable awards Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Peter Northe Wells, MNZM (born 1950) is an award-winning writer and filmmaker from New Zealand.

Although today he is mainly known for his fiction, Peter Wells has explored his interest in gay and historical themes, in a number of expressive drama and documentary films since the 1980s.

The first and (up to 2008) last feature film made by Peter Wells is Desperate Remedies (1993), co-directed with Stewart Main. This take on New Zealand's colonial beginnings was selected to screen at the Cannes Film Festival, and represented an expressionistic alternative to the man alone machismo that dominated NZ film in the 1970s and 80s.

Wells has since concentrated on developing his writing career. His short stories and novels have been widely praised. But he has not entirely abandoned drama. In 1996 he collaborated with theatre director Colin McColl on an operatic dramatization of Katherine Mansfield's Wellington stories, commissioned for the NZ International Festival of the Arts.

Two short stories from his awardwinning 1991 collection Dangerous Desires have been filmed to date: Of Memory & Desire, the tale of a Japanese couple travelling around New Zealand, was adapted by Niki Caro for her first feature film in 1997. The same year, working from a Wells script, Stewart Main directed sixties coming of age story One of THEM! as an hour-long short.

Wells' 2003 novel Iridescence was a runner up in the fiction category of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and a finalist in the 2005 Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize.

In 2006 Peter Wells was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to literature and film.


  • Dangerous Desires (1991) Auckland: Reed Books. Short story collection. Won 1992 NZ Book Award for Fiction and 1992 PEN Best First Book in Prose Award
    • The film Memory and Desire, directed by Niki Caro in 1997, was based on Wells' short story Of Memory and Desire in this collection.
  • Duration of a Kiss (1994) Auckland: Secker & Warburg
  • Boy Overboard (1997) Auckland: Vintage
  • One of Them! (1997) Auckland: Vintage
  • Best Mates: Gay Writing in Aotearoa New Zealand (1997) Edited by Peter Wells and Rex Pilgrim. Auckland: Reed
  • Frock Attack! Wig Wars!: Strategic Camp in Desperate Remedies (1997) Auckland: Centre for Film, Television and Media Studies, University of Auckland
  • Long Loop Home: a memoir (2001) Auckland: Vintage. Won the Biography Category of the 2002 Montana NZ Book Awards
  • Iridescence (2003) Auckland: Vintage. Runner-up for the 2004 Deutz Medal for Fiction and shortlisted for the Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize 2005
  • On Going to the Movies (2005) Series editor Lloyd Jones. Wellington: Four Winds Press
  • The Cat's Whiskers: New Zealand Writers on Cats (2005) Edited by Peter Wells. Auckland: Vintage
  • Lucky Bastard (2007) Auckland: Random House

Filmography and videography[edit]

  • Foolish Things (1980)
  • Little Queen (1984)
  • Jewel's Darl (1985)
  • My First Suit (1985)
  • Newest City on the Globe: Art Deco Napier (1985) Auckland: Moving Image Centre
  • Newest City on the Globe (1985) Written and directed by Peter Wells. Produced and edited by Stewart Main. Auckland: TVNZ
  • A Death in the Family Film for television with Stewart Main
  • Drama on Film (?1987) Wellington: New Zealand Film Commission
  • The Mighty Civic (1988) Documentary. Writer, director (with Stewart Main). Wellington: New Zealand Film Commission
  • A Taste of Kiwi (1990)
  • Desperate Remedies (1993) Writer, director (with Stewart Main). Isambard Productions.
  • Naughty Little Peeptoe With Garth Maxwell
  • One of Them as writer, directed by Stewart Main (View on NZ On Screen)
  • Georgie Girl (2001)


  • Temples of Wonder Installation at the Hawkes Bay Museum, Napier.

Unpublished plays[edit]

  • Ricordi (1995)

Honours and awards[edit]

  • Made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2006 for services to literature and film.
  • In 2009 Peter Wells was awarded with a New Zealand non-fiction literary prize, convened by CLL (Copyright Licensing Ltd) to write a series of biographical essays on William Colenso, entitled The Hungry Heart: The Enquiring Mind. The book “will not be a conventional biography, but an essay series that bears directly on the episodes of heartbreak, loneliness, and sometimes horror that chequered the life of this gifted renaissance man – printer, writer, botanist, explorer, ex-missionary and intellectual maverick”.[1] The book will be published by November 2011.


External links[edit]