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Hunt, Des


Des Hunt is a young adult fiction writer. He was a school teacher for more than 40 years and has published two textbooks. The strong environmental messages in Hunt’s novels emphasise the unique features of New Zealand fauna and geology. His first novel, A Friend in Paradise, combined action adventure with ecological themes, and was a finalist in the 2003 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. Hunt was also a finalist in the Junior Fiction section of the 2007 and 2014 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.


Place of residence: Whitianga, New Zealand
Primary publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Rights enquiries: HarperCollins Publishers, PO Box 1, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140.
Publicity enquiries: C/ HarperCollins as above


Hunt, Des (1941 –) writes young adult fiction. He was born in Palmerston North and worked as a school teacher for more than 40 years. He currently lives in Matarangi.

His novels are set in places that children could visit and recognise. They have a strong environmental care message that emphasises the unique features of New Zealand fauna and geology.

Hunt has published textbooks: Physics 2000 (Longman Paul, 1982) and Beyond 2000 (Longman Paul, 1986). His first novels, A Friend in Paradise (HarperCollins, 2002) and The Moa Cave (HarperCollins, 2005) are action adventure thrillers, with ecological themes. A Friend in Paradise was a finalist at the 2003 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and was listed as a 2003 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book. The Moa Cave was also listed as a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book in 2006.

Frog Whistle Mine (HarperCollins, 2006) was a finalist in the Junior Fiction section of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in 2007. Twelve-year-old Tony has lived all around New Zealand, travelling with his nomadic Mum, and desperately wants somewhere to belong. When they arrive in Charleston, a gold-mining ghost town 30km south of Westport, he is almost afraid to hope this might finally be the place, but is desperate not to be disappointed yet again. There are unique bush and coastal environments to explore, an interesting group of people to come to know, and a gathering mystery that starts from his very first night.

Where Cuckoos Call (HarperCollins, 2007) is set on the Coromandel Peninsula. It is the story of Ben Mansfield, who lives in a sheltered bay where shining cuckoos nest before travelling thousands of kilometres across the Pacific in their annual migration. Ben’s decision to raise an orphaned shining cuckoo takes him far from home and lands him in serious trouble.

Shadows in the Ice (HarperCollins, 2007) is based in the tiny township of Fox Glacier, and continues the story of Tony Hogan-White with another West Coast adventure that challenges Tony to his limits. The work was listed as a 2008 Notable Junior Fiction Book.

The Tooth (HarperCollins, 2008) is reviewed in the May 2008 Magpies: The action is fast-paced and the adrenaline pumps...Hunt manages to bring historical and conservation aspects into this story in an understated way.(Rosemary Tisdale, Vol 23, Issue 2, May 2008, p.7 (NZ section))

The Secret of Jelly Mountain (Scholastic) and Cry of the Taniwha (HarperCollins) were both published in 2009. The Secret of Jelly Mountain was listed as a 2010 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book. Cry of the Taniwha was listed as a finalist in the junior fiction category of the 2010 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Project Huia (Scholastic, 2013) was listed as a finalist in the junior fiction category of the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Cool Nukes (Scholastic, 2015) was a Storylines Notable Book for 2016 and a finalist for the Children's Choice Junior Fiction Award in the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Des Hunt is available for the Book Council’s Writers in Schools programme.

Last updated September 2016.

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writers in schools information

Hunt is able to visit 7 to 13 year olds and is available for schools outside is region through the Writers in Schools programme. He is happy to discuss writing, conservation, science and computers. He prefers to speak to classes of 30 but will consider up to 100 students.

KAPAI: Kids' Authors Pictures and Information

Where do you live?
Matarangi, on the Coromandel Peninsula

What books do you read?

I like books with a mix of action, romance and suspense, particularly if they also teach me something.

Who are your favourite writers?
John Grisham
Maurice Gee

How do you think up your ideas?

Lots of ideas originate from things I liked as a boy. I also use magazines to get ideas about wildlife and geology. If I read about something that I think might be suitable I will then research it in detail before travelling to the location.

What is the best thing about being a writer?
I enjoy researching a new book so that I am well informed about the topic. The first draft of writing is always exciting to finish. Then there is meeting people who have read my books and want to learn more about them.

Some questions from Primary School students

What sort of pets do you have?
An English Springer Spaniel called TC.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite food?

What is your favourite movie?

Whale Rider

What is your favourite game?
I play golf. I like watching rugby.

What is the most fun thing about being an author?

Meeting people who have read my books.

How do you make books?
I think of a place, an animal, and something I would like my readers to learn. Then I try to work those three things into a story.

Where do you go for your holidays?
Places that I think might be suitable as a location for a book.

What was the naughtiest thing you ever did at school?
I made a contact explosive called nitrogen tri-iodide and put it on the floor of the school hall before a dance.

Some questions from Secondary School students

How did you get started?
I wrote textbooks for many years and wanted to be able to explore ideas without being confined by a curriculum or the need to be precisely accurate.

Who inspired you when you were getting started?
When I was in my twenties I read a lot of books by Howard Spring. One book in particular, These Lovers Fled Away, inspired me to one day be a writer of fiction.

What advice would you give an aspiring young writer?
Read a lot and write a lot. If possible, have some other people read your writing and listen to their comments.

Is it difficult to make a living writing in New Zealand?
Yes! I write children’s novels that are set in New Zealand so there is a limited market.

What were you like as a teenager?
In today’s terms I would be called a nerd or a geek. I was particularly interested in chemistry and substances you could make from chemicals bought in hardware shops.

However there were plenty of others like me at our school and we had to find interesting things to do as there was no TV and home computers weren’t invented for another 30 years.

Is there anything else you could tell students about yourself?

I was one of the first in New Zealand to have a home computer. This was called Sim1 and had 1 kbyte of ram and saved its data on a cassette tape. In the early 1980s I designed and manufactured a simple computer for use in science experiments.

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Level 4, Stephenson & Turner House, 156 Victoria St, Te Aro
Wellington 6011, New Zealand