Hone Tuwhare, 1922 - 2008

Hone TuwhareTributes flowed out of literary circles in January 2008 as the country mourned the loss of Hone Tuwhare, a notable and impish character of New Zealand literature.

Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark paid tribute to Hone Tuwhare for his outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature …

Hone Tuwhare was a distinguished poet, playwright, and writer of short fiction. His poetry contained powerful imagery of our land, sea, and legends, and often expressed strong views on contemporary issues.
He was a prolific writer, with many publications to his name and an international reputation. Hone’s death will be felt deeply by all who valued his lifetime contribution to New Zealand literature. My thoughts are with his whanau and close friends at this sad time


Born in Kokewai (near Kaikohe) in October 1922, Tuwhare trained as a boilermaker, leaving school to take up an apprenticeship with NZ Railways, where he read extensively in the Railways library.

Tuwhare, of Nga Puhi descent, lived in Kaka Point, about 25km southeast of Balclutha.

Tuwhare’s work was renowned for its broad appeal. In 2007 the books Our Favourite Poems: New Zealanders choose their best-loved poems placed Tuwhare’s Rain at number one, and No Ordinary Sun was 11th. He attracted critical acclaim as well named New Zealand’s second Te Mata Poet Laureate in 1999; winner of the Montana NZ Book Awards for poetry in 1998 and 2002, awarded honorary doctorates by the universities of Auckland and Otago. In 2003 he was the winner of the inaugural Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry.

In 2006 several musicians recorded a tribute album, Tuwhare. He died on 16 January 2008.

Related resources

Media and interviews

  • Review - Hone Tuwhare. A 1973 interview with a 51-year-old Hone Tuwhare at the Māori Writers’ and Artists’ Conference, at Te Kaha’s Tukaki Marae. From NZ on Screen.
  • ’Best-loved’ poet dies coverage from Fairfax Media’s Stuff website
  • Poet was a man of many moods - Fellow poet Glenn Colquhoun, who toured Northland with Hone Tuwhare, pays tribute to a cheeky, sensual man. NZ Herald, Saturday 19 January 2008
  • Hone by Peter Fairbrother, Te Ao Hou, No. 48 (September 1964). The cover photo of this issue is of Hone.