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About the book
  • Published: 30 January 2009
  • ISBN: 9780143010920
  • Imprint: Raupo
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 512
  • RRP: $36.00
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The Matriarch




In keeping with his commitment to revisit his first five pieces of fiction, Witi Ihimaera has reworked the original text of this much-loved classic.

The matriarch is a woman of intelligence, wit, beauty and ruthlessness, and has become a mythical figure through her fight to repossess the land and sustain her people against the ravages wrought by the Pakeha. Priestess of the Ringatu faith, she has been virtually a law unto herself.
In his search for the truth behind the legends surrounding the matriarch, his grandmother, Tama Mahana delves deeper and deeper into Maori history and lore to understand the mysterious sources of her power and ambition.
Witi Ihimaera's prose is at turns lyrical and spare, sensuous and savage. Weaving fact with fiction, this remarkable odyssey into New Zealand history is a novel of stunning imaginative power.
Also available as an eBook
Winner of the Wattie Book of the Year, 1986
Runner-up for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, 1987

'Witi Ihimaera's uncompromising masterwork . . . A profound and spellbinding character study' - New Zealand Herald

  • Pub date: 30 January 2009
  • ISBN: 9780143010920
  • Imprint: Raupo
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 512
  • RRP: $36.00

About the Author

Witi Ihimaera

Witi Ihimaera was the first Maori to publish both a book of short stories and a novel, and has published many notable novels and collections of short stories. Described by Metro magazine as ‘Part oracle, part memoralist,’ and ‘an inspired voice, weaving many stories together’, Ihimaera has also written for stage and screen, edited books on the arts and culture, as well as published various works for children.

His best-known novel is The Whale Rider, which was made into a hugely, internationally successful film in 2002. His novel Nights in the Garden of Spain was also made into a feature film, and was distributed internationally under the name of Kawa. The feature film White Lies was based on his novella Medicine Woman. And his novel Bulibasha, King of the Gypsies inspired the 2016 feature film Mahana. His first book, Pounamu, Pounamu, has not been out of print in the 40 years since publication.

He has also had careers in diplomacy, teaching, theatre, opera, film and television. He has received numerous awards, including the Wattie Book of the Year Award, the Montana Book Award, the inaugural Star of Oceania Award, University of Hawaii, a laureate award from the New Zealand Arts Foundation 2009, the Toi Maori Maui Tiketike Award 2011, and the Premio Ostana International Award, presented to him in Italy 2010. In 2004 he became a Distinguished Companion of the Order of New Zealand, in 2017 France made him Chevalier de l'ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the same year he received the NZ Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement.

Receiving the Maori arts award Te Tohutiketike a Te Waka Toi, Ihimaera said, ‘To be given Maoridom’s highest cultural award, well, it’s recognition of the iwi. Without them, I would have nothing to write about and there would be no Ihimaera. So this award is for all those ancestors who have made us all the people we are. It is also for the generations to come, to show them that even when you aren’t looking, destiny has a job for you to do.’

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