Witi Ihimaera was born in Gisborne, New Zealand, in 1944. He was a pioneer of Maori writing in English: the short-story collection Pounamu Pounamu (1972) was followed by Tangi (1973), the first novel by a Maori. He is a hard-working writer and editor, and his works include novels, short-story collections, children's books, plays and numerous anthologies. His book The Whale Rider has been made into a successful international film, which won the Toronto Film Festival People's Choice Award in 2002. Ihimaera is professor of English at the University of Auckland, teaching creative writing and indigenous literature.