Hone Tuwhare was New Zealand’s most distinguished Maori poet writing in English. He was born in Kaikohe into the Nga Puhi tribe (hapu Ngati Korokoro, Ngati Tautahi, Te Popoto, Uri-o-hau). He began writing during his apprenticeship on the railways, where he became involved in trade unions. He was an organiser of the first Maori Writers and Artists Conference at Te Kaha in 1973 and participated in the Maori Land March of 1975. Tuwhare won two Montana NZ Book Awards, was Te Mata Poet Laureate, and held two honorary doctorates in literature. In 2003 he was among ten of New Zealand’s greatest living artists named as Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Artists. Tuwhare passed away in 2008.
Hone Tuwhare was awarded the Robert Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago in 1974. He also was the Auckland University Literary Fellow in 1991.
In 1998, he received the Montana Award for Poetry for Shape-Shifter at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
He named New Zealand's second Te Mata Poet Laureate in 1999. Administered by the National Library of New Zealand and funded by the New Zealand Government, the Poet Laureate is selected biennially and receives an award of $50,000 per year. At the end of his two year term, he published Piggy-Back Moon (2001), which received the Montana Award for Poetry at the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
Tuwhare was among ten of New Zealand's greatest living artists named as Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Artists at a ceremony in 2003. Also in 2003, Tuwhare was awarded one of the inaugural Prime Ministers Awards for Literary Achievement for poetry. The other winners were Janet Frame of Dunedin for fiction; and Michael King of Opoutere on the Coromandel Peninsula for nonfiction . Each writer received $60,000. The awards are aimed at New Zealand writers who have made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature.
Tuwhare received an honorary Doctor of Literature degree from the University of Auckland in 2005.
Oooooo......!!! , Hone Tuwhare (Steele Roberts, 2005) presents diverse new poems alongside earlier unpublished work. It is a wild, unpredictable expression of exuberance for words, love, and social justice. The poems are about the act of writing; about Tuwhare's beloved Shirley Grace; about his hunger for the bounty of Tangaroa, music and sex. They reflect with humour and raw candour the challenges of aging while having an unquenchable lust for life.
In 2007, Hone Tuwhare's words were put to music by some of New Zealand's leading musicians.
Hone Tuwhare passed away at Ross Home in Dunedin on 16 January 2008. The Book Council gives its condolences and best wishes to Tuwhare's friends and family, and all the people throughout New Zealand who were affected by and enjoyed his work.
A limited edition hand-set printing of Hone Tuwhare's classic poem 'Rain' has just been completed as part of the 2007 Printing in Residence Programme at the University of Otago Library. Eleven other poems were re-printed from Tuwhare's Come Rain Hail (1970) and produced in a large format portfolio production. It was printed by Dr John Holmes, under the University Library's Otakou Press. 'Rain' was illustrated by Olav Nielsen, a Dunedin printmaker-artist. Six other Dunedin artists were involved in the project: Inge Doesburg, Simon Kaan, Mary McFarlane, Kathryn Madill, Jenna Packer, and Marilyn Webb. All the copies printed have been sold. Those interested in viewing the production can call into Special Collections at the University Library (1st floor) and request to see it, or otherwise access the web-link, which contains various images of the publication. Online images at: http://library.otago.ac.nz/SpecialCollections/printers_images.html
Small Holes in the Silence: Collected Poems by Hone Tuwhare was published by Random House in July 2011. This volume showcases his early and late poetry as well as a handful of previously unpublished poems. It features a number of poems translated into Maori by Pat Hohepa, Selwyn Muru and Waihoroi Shortland.
- Watch the Gaylene Preston-directed documentary Hone Tuwhare (1996)
- Watch the short film Tuwhare (2005)
- A special Issue of Ka mate ka ora: a new zealand journal of poetry and poetics dedicated to remembering Hone Tuwhare
- Watch E Tipu E Rea - Eel (1989), written for television by Hone Tuwhare
- Watch an interview with Hone Tuwhare, Review, Hone Tuwhare (1975)
- Christchurch City Libraries profile of Hone Tuwhare
- The Hone Tuwhare Charitable Trust website
- There is a bibliography in the Auckland University Librarys New Zealand Literature File
- Hone Tuwhare’s Arts Foundation Icon Artist profile
- Hone Tuwhare mentioned in the New Zealand Electronic Text Centre