Witi Ihimaera

New Zealand writer

Professor Witi Tame Ihimaera-Smiler DCNZM QSM (born February 7, 1944), usually known as Witi Ihimaera, is a New Zealand author, often regarded as the most prominent Māori writer alive today.

Witi Ihimaera (2015)


  • This is where we start. Let it be blank. Blank is different from nothing.”
    • Pūrākau: Māori Myths Retold by Māori Writers (2019)
  • Alas, being a New Zealander is such an exquisite dilemma.
    • Fulbright New Zealand Keynote speech, November 2005[1]
  • We bow only to the highest mountain.
  • In the small things is the genetic imprint of the larger things... You must reverse the small things as well as the larger things. You must learn to see not just with your eyes but with your heart and intelligence.
    • Sky Dancer (2005)
  • When everybody else is bending with the wind, very few people will lean against it.
    • Sky Dancer (2005)
  • When you're sorting yourself out, family are not often the ones you can turn to. They represent the place of departure and not the place of arrival.”
    • Nights in the Gardens of Spain (1995)

The Uncle's Story (2002)

  • Lots of people come just to dance and have a good time. Here you can do anything you want to do, be anyone you want to be. It's called freedom. Be careful, it can be contagious.
  • It felt right not to talk. It felt good just to be. Sometimes there was no need to fill the air with words.”
  • I have always loved long journeys. The act of leaving accustomed surroundings is a release from real time, real life. You can place that familiar life on hold, freeze it, secure in the awareness that it will be there waiting for you when you come back. The journey itself becomes an opportunity to explore parallel lives, those other optional lives which have always been there.

The Whale Rider (1987)


page numbers to 2003 USA edition by First Harvest

  • In the old days, in the years that have gone before us, the land and sea felt a great emptiness, a yearning. The mountains were like a stairway to heaven, and the lush green rainforest was a rippling cloak of many colors. The sky was iridescent, swirling with the patterns of wind and clouds; sometimes it reflected the prisms of rainbow or southern aurora. The sea was ever-changing, shimmering and seamless to the sky. This was the well at the bottom of the world, and when you looked into it you felt could see to the end of forever. (beginning)
  • Hui e, haumi e, taiki e.
    Let it be done.
  • Sometimes life has a habit of flooding over you and rushing you along in its overwhelming tide. (p63)
  • He loved them deeply, but sometimes love becomes a power game between the ambitions that parents have for their children and the ambitions that children have for themselves. (p66)
  • The muted thunder boomed underwater like a great door opening far away. Suddenly the sea was filled with awesome singing, a song with eternity in it. (p95)
  • The moon was drenching the sky with loneliness. (p107)
  • He raised his arms as if to claw down the sky upon him. (p133)

Quotes about


See also



  1. "Witi Ihimaera's New Zealand Dreams". Fulbright New Zealand (2 November 2005). Retrieved on 2006-11-23. Includes full speech transcription.
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