return to writer search
























Hill, David


David Hill is a reviewer, fiction writer, playwright and children’s writer. Born in Napier, he spent fourteen years teaching before writing full-time. His many published books range from studies on poetry, to teenage fiction, for which he has received numerous prizes. His first young adult novel won the 1994 Times Educational Supplement Award for Special Needs. He won the 2002 Children's Literature Foundation Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book, the 2003 LIANZA Esther Glen Medal, the 2013 NZ Post Junior Fiction Award, and the 2013 LIANZA Librarian’s Choice Award. Hill is available to visit schools through the Writers in Schools programme, as well as lead Professional Development sessions for teachers.


Place of residence: New Plymouth, New Zealand
Primary publisher: Mallinson Rendel. Random House NZ.
Rights enquiries:
Publicity enquiries: Mallinson Rendel -

FROM THE oxford companion TO new zealand literature

HILL, David (1942 -), is a versatile journalist, reviewer, fiction writer, playwright and children's writer. Born and educated in Napier, a graduate of Victoria University (MA Hons, 1964), he spent fourteen years secondary-school teaching before writing full-time. He has contributed stories, articles, reviews and plays to newspapers, radio and most New Zealand journals, including Landfall, NZ Listener and School Journal, as well as overseas.

His books include The Seventies Connection (1970), on New Zealand literature, and Taranaki (1987), both in collaboration with Elizabeth Smither; Introducing Maurice Gee (1981); and On Poetry: Twelve Studies of Work by New Zealand Poets (1984). Moaville Magic (1985), illustrated by Eric Heath, was the first of three collections of comic and gently satirical pieces on an archetypical small New Zealand town, first broadcast on radio and published in The Dominion and elsewhere.

The Boy (1988), illustrated by Chris Slane, amusingly explores a father's perspective on his teenage son. The Games of Nanny Miro (1990) is a bilingual story, illustrated by June Grant, translated by Irene Curnow. Plays for teenagers include Ours But to Do (1986), A Time to Laugh (1990) and A Day at a Time (1994).

Hill's first teenage novel, See Ya, Simon (1992), is an absorbing story of friendship with a boy dying, at 14, of muscular dystrophy, whose gritty humour and determination expunge sentimentality. Shortlisted in New Zealand and runner-up for two awards in the UK, it won the 1994 Times Educational Supplement Award for Special Needs.

His next three novels in 1995 perceptively explore relationships and problems among teenagers involved in activities such as Tae Kwon Do in Kick Back, a disastrous tramping expedition in Take It Easy, and a drama production in Curtain Up. Also in 1995, The Winning Touch features an intermediate class's efforts to win at New Image Rugby. A more satiric touch is evident in Second Best (1996), about cricket. Hill was awarded an ICI Bursary in 1980 and is an occasional performer for 'Metaphor'.


Author entry from The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature,
edited by Roger Robinson and Nelson Wattie (1998).

Back to top

Additional Information

David Hill received the Esther Glen Award at the 1998 LIANZA Children's Book Awards for his novel Fat, Four-Eyed and Useless.

In 2001, he published The High Wind Blows (Puffin), The Sleeper Wakes (Puffin), and The Name of the Game (Mallinson Rendel). The High Wind Blows and The Sleeper Wakes were listed as 2002 Storylines Notable Books.

In 2002, Hill received the Children's Literature Foundation Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book for his 1992 novel See ya, Simon.

He has had books translated into Estonian, French and Chinese. He was the Robert Lord Writer in Residence from June-August 2003.

Where All Things End (2002) is set in 2040 where the laws of science fail and all things end.

Right Where It Hurts (Mallinson Rendel, 2002) is a junior novel which explores the area of self-harm. The novel was shortlisted for the 2003 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, was listed as a 2003 Storylines Notable Senior Fiction Book, and won the 2003 LIANZA Esther Glen Award.

My Story: Journey to Tangiwai
, The Diary of Peter Cotterill, Napier 1953 (Scholastic, 2003). When Peter Cotterill begins his diary in 1953, little does he realise that something is happening elsewhere in New Zealand that is going to have a huge impact on his life. This title was a finalist in the junior fiction section of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults 2004, and was listed as a 2004 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.

No Safe Harbour (2003). Stuart and his sister, Sandra, are coming home to Wellington on the ferry. Stuart knows he'll enjoy the trip -- he's a good sailor -- but it's April 1968 and the ship is the Wahine. No Safe Harbour (2003) was a finalist in the young adult fiction category for the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and was listed as a 2004 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.

Kiwi Bites is a series of bite-sized stories for kids, published by Puffin. No Big Deal (2003) is written by David Hill and illlustrated by Terry Fitzgibbon. Todd is sick of all the 'short' jokes, until the day he and his friends become trapped in a cave. No Big Deal was listed as a 2004 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.

Coming Back (Mallinson Rendel, 2004). Tara is heading home. Ryan is driving his mates. Neither of them is paying attention. The tragedy that follows changes many lives. Coming Back was a finalist in the Young Adult Fiction Category of the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and was listed as a 2005 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book.

In 2005, Hill received the prestigious Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for distinguished contribution to children's literature.

Two young adult novels by David Hill were published in 2005; Running Hot (Mallinson Rendel) and Bodies and Soul (Scholastic). Both were listed as 2006 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Books. Running Hot was nominated in the young adult category for the 2006 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Hill Sides (2006) is a collection of David Hill's articles, columns and short stories, spanning more than 20 years of David's writing for adults. He has also released Aim High (Mallinson Rendel, 2006), which was listed as a 2007 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction Book. Black Day (Penguin, 2007) is a title in the Kiwi Bites series.

Duet (Mallinson Rendel, 2007) is a novel for teenagers. Kallum is a gifted rock guitarist who joins -- reluctantly -- the local Youth Orchestra after his friend Saul urges him to. When he meets the flute-playing Paige, he changes his mind about classical music. A relationship starts that completely changes their lives.

The River Runs (Mallinson Rendel, 2008) is for young teenagers. It's 1967 in rural New Zealand. Chris is 12 years old and likes reading. His cousin Roger is 15 years old, likes wrestling and bullying Chris. The tensions between them leads to a climactic scene in the nearby river where they need to join forces to save two lives.

Fire on High
(Mallinson Rendel, 2009) is for young teenagers. Teenager Jonno is a keen astronomer. When he wins the chance of a free trip to another country, it's the start of a series of adventures that involve a solar eclipse, an aircraft hijack, snake venom, a disintegrating satellite and a young terrorist.

My Brother's War was published by Penguin Books in 2012 and was awarded Best Junior Fiction in the 2013 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. It also won the LIANZA Librarians’ Choice Award 2013.

The Deadly Sky was published in 2014 by Penguin NZ. Set in 1974, the Young Adult novel sees protagonist Darryl move from wintry New Zealand to the Tahitian island of Mangareva. Living on the island isn’t entirely the tropical adventure Darryl expects, though, for Mangareva is just a few hundred kilometres from a nuclear testing zone.

In July 2015, Hill published First to the Top: Sir Edmund Hillary’s Amazing Everest Adventure, a picture book illustrated by Phoebe Morris. First to the Top was listed as a Storylines Notable Book for 2016.

Hill’s YA novel Enemy Camp was released in 2016. The book recounts the arrival of hundreds of Japanese soldiers into a Featherston POW camp in 1942. Though main character Ewen begins to view the prisoners as humans rather than as dangerous soldiers, tensions between the guards and inmates continues to build – until finally, it can be contained no more.

Speed King, written by Hill and illustrated by Phoebe Morris, is scheduled for release in August 2016. Based on the story of Burt Munro, the world’s fastest Indian, Speed King offers a wonderfully visual retelling of a true New Zealand story.

Last updated May 2016.

Back to top

writers in schools information

Hill is available through the Book Council's Writers in Schools programme to talk to intermediate and secondary school students, as well as older primary school students. He can talk about being a teen fiction writer, a novelist/adult fiction writer, a non-fiction writer and a screenwriter/playwright. He can give an introduction and talk, a reading and Q&A session, and do a creative writing workshop, a gifted and talented workshop and talk, a session for challenged readers. He is able to run workshops on fiction writing by prior arrangement, as well as lead Professional Development sessions for teachers and can travel out of town for visits.

KAPAI: Kids' Authors Pictures and Information

Where do you live?
I live in New Plymouth

What kinds of book do you like to read?
I read lots of novels, books about astronomy, tramping and rugby.

Do you have any favourite authors?
My favourite authors include Jack Lasenby and Joy Cowley.

Where do you get your ideas?
I get ideas from watching people and thinking 'what if ...'

What is the best thing about being an author?
The best things about being an author include the pleasure of MAKING something. That's what writing is -- making something that never existed before.

How did you get started as a writer?
I started (really started) in order to write about my kids when they were little.

What advice would you give someone who wanted to be a writer?
Read as much as you can; start sending work away; don't throw away ANYTHING.

Is it hard to make a living as a writer in New Zealand?
Well, it's always precarious. You never feel confident your next year's writing will be accepted. Fashions and publishers change.

Back to top

Media Links and Clips

Back to top

Phone 0064 4 801 5546
Level 4, Stephenson & Turner House, 156 Victoria St, Te Aro
Wellington 6011, New Zealand