Jeffrey Paparoa Holman was born in London in 1947 and immigrated to New Zealand in 1950, living out his early years mostly on the South Island's West Coast. His colourful career path has taken him to sawmills, shearing gangs, social work, bookselling and, since 1997, study at the University of Canterbury, where he graduated with a PhD in Maori Studies in 2007. He is currently a Senior Adjunct Fellow in the School of Humanities at Canterbury.
Holman is an award-winning and widely published poet; the most recent of his seven volumes is Shaken Down 6.3, poems of the post-2010 Christchurch earthquakes (Canterbury University Press, 2012). His critically acclaimed history, Best of Both Worlds: The Story of Elsdon Best and Tutakangahau (Penguin, 2010), was shortlisted for the Ernest Scott Prize. His poetry, articles and reviews have variously appeared in the New ZealandListener, Landfall, the Christchurch Press and other periodicals.
Holman was the 2011 Writer-in-Residence at the University of Waikato; in autumn 2012, he was the New Zealand representative at the University of Iowa's International Writing Program.