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About the book
  • Published: 7 June 2013
  • ISBN: 9781775533061
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $37.00

White Lies




A powerful, prize-winning novella from the much-loved author of The Whale Rider, plus a moving screenplay, film stills and commentary on writing and movie making.

A powerful, prize-winning novella from the much-loved author of The Whale Rider, plus a moving screenplay, film stills and commentary on writing and movie making.

A medicine woman — a giver of life — is asked to hide a secret that may protect a position in society, but could have fatal consequences. When she is approached by the servant of a wealthy woman, three very different women become players in a head-on clash of beliefs, deception and ultimate salvation.

This compelling story tackles moral dilemmas, exploring the nature of identity, societal attitudes to the roles of women and the tension between Western and traditional Maori medicine. This book, though, is also about the richness of creativity, illustrating the way a single story can take on different lives. The original novella, Medicine Woman, has been rewritten and expanded by Witi Ihimaera to become White Lies. It has also evolved into a screenplay by internationally acclaimed director and screenwriter Dana Rotberg, which has been made into a superb film by South Pacific Pictures. Thus this book offers an intriguing insight into the process of adapting work, as well as offering new versions of this potent story.


Nga Kupu Ora – Aotearoa Maori Book Awards 2013, winner of the Te Pakimaero / Fiction category

  • Pub date: 7 June 2013
  • ISBN: 9781775533061
  • Imprint: RHNZ Vintage
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 336
  • RRP: $37.00

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.’

Also by Witi Ihimaera

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Awards & Recognition

  • Nga Kupu Ora – Aotearoa Maori Book Awards

    Winner • 2013 • Fiction / Te Pakimaero category


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