Patricia Grace was born in Wellington and was educated at St. Anne’s School, Newtown, St. Mary’s College, Wellington, Wellington Teachers’ College and Victoria University. Grace began writing while working as a teacher in the King Country, Northland and Porirua. She published her first short story, “The Dream”, in Te Ao Hou in 1966. In the following forty years Grace has written six novels, seven short story collections, fifteen children’s books, three collaborative non-fiction publications, two film scripts and sixty-three short stories which have been published in a wide range of anthologies and journals.
Grace’s significant contribution to contemporary New Zealand literature is underscored by the numerous awards and grants she has received. In 1974 she was the recipient of the first Māori Purposes Fund Board grant for Māori writers and she was awarded New Zealand Literary Fund grants in 1975 and 1983. Grace won the Hubert Church Prose Award for best first book in 1976 for Waiariki. In 1982 she won Children’s Picture Book of the year for The Kuia and the Spider with illustrator Robyn Kahukiwa. In 1985 Grace was awarded a writing fellowship at Victoria University, and in the following two years received recognition for her novel, Potiki, which was placed third in the Wattie Book of the Year Award and first in the New Zealand Fiction Award. In 1988 and 1992-3 Grace received Scholarships in Letters and was honoured with the Q.S.O in the 1988 Queen’s Birthday Honours. In 1989 she was awarded Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa) by Victoria University. Grace was a recipient of the German LiBeraturpreis for Potiki in 1994, and in 2000 her novel Baby No-Eyes was short listed in the Tasmania Pacific Region Prize. Grace’s novel Dogside Story won the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize for fiction and was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001. In the following year it was shortlisted in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, longlisted in the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award (2003), and shortlisted in the Tasmania Pacific Region Prize (2004). Her novel, Tu, won the 2005 Montana New Zealand Book Awards Deutz Medal for Fiction or Poetry, the Montana New Zealand Book Award first prize for fiction, and was New Zealand Booksellers’ Choice Award. In July 2005 Grace received an Icon Art Award from the New Zealand Foundation of Arts and in February 2006 she was awarded a Certificate of Honour from the Senate State of Hawaii for contributions to literature. She received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in 2006 and in September 2007 Grace was selected by an international jury as the 2008 laureate of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature. In announcing this prize, Neustadt professor Robert Con Davis-Undiano stated: “This award is landmark recognition of an indigenous writer and gives a strong sense of the direction of important literature in the 21st century.”
Grace is one of the featured writers included in the Literary Archive Project at Victoria University that is sponsored by INL and has run continuously since 1993. Her stories have been broadcast in English by Radio New Zealand, and South Pacific Television produced her story “The Dream” in Māori for Pacific Viewpoint in 1979. Her work has been translated into German, Dutch, French, Russian, Swedish, Chinese, Japanese, Finnish, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese (in progress). Her stories have been printed in numerous anthologies and journals in New Zealand and overseas.
Grace has been a featured writer and guest speaker at numerous writers’ conferences and festivals. She attended the first Pacific Writers’ Conference at the University of Papua New Guinea in 1976 and in 1977 read her work at the SPACLALS Conference at the University of Queensland. She has participated in the New Zealand Book Council’s Writers in Schools scheme and the annual Ngā Puna Waihanga hui. Since 1979 she has spoken at various New Zealand Writers’ Conferences and in 1982 took part in the Adelaide Festival Writers’ Week. In 1986 Grace participated in the “Karanga Karanga” exhibition and visited the Feminist Book Fair in Oslo, Norway. In 1987 she attended the SPACLALS Conference in Palmerston North, the World Conference of Indigenous Peoples’ Education in UBC Vancouver, and the Tasmanian Writers Conference in Hobart. In 1988 she attended the Carnivale Writers’ Festival in Sydney, toured Sydney Universities, participated in the Spoleto Festival of Arts in Melbourne and the Wellington Festival of Arts, attended the Pacific Writers’ Conference in London and toured universities in Europe. In 1990 she was a guest at the Harbourfront Readings in Toronto and the Vancouver International Writers’ Festival. In 1991 she attended the Perth Writers Festival and Writers’ Week in Dunedin.
Grace was a founding member of Te Ha – The Māori Writers Society, and was instrumental with Witi Ihimaera in launching the “On the Bus” Māori writers’ tours. Alongside her writing, Grace has had an active role tutoring at writers’ workshops and encouraging new writers. She has led workshops at Ngā Puna Waihanga Hui (1992), the Writers Workshop for Māori Women at Paraparaumu (1993), the Workshop for Māori Writers at Taputeranga Marae (1993, 1996), Workshop for Māori Writers, Te Muka (1997), and Te Ha Children’s Writing Workshop (1998). She is a member of the New Zealand Society of Authors (Pen NZ Inc.) and NZ Book Council Writers’ in Schools Scheme. She has the following qualifications: T.T.C., Diploma Teaching English Second Language (Dip Tesl) and an Honorary Doctorate from Victoria University.
"Patricia Grace was the 2014 Honoured New Zealand Writer at the Auckland Writers Festival.
Grace's latest novel Chappy - her first novel in ten years – was released in 2015. It follows the story of young man (Chappy) who ventures back to New Zealand to reconnect to his Maori culture and ancestry. From Aotearoa, Chappy becomes involved in the international affair of war, making Chappy a powerful demonstration of the ties that Maori have with the wider world. The novel was a finalist in the Fiction section of the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
Haka and Whiti te Rā! were published by Huia Press in September 2015. Haka is Grace's retelling of the story of the great Ngāti Toa chief Te Rauparaha and how he came to compose the haka 'Ka Mate, Ka Mate'. It was also released in a Maori language edition, Whiti te Rā!, translated by Kawata Teepa. Both editions are illustrated by Andrew Burdan. Haka was a finalist for the Picture Book Award and Whiti te Rā! won the Te Kura Pounamu Award at the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults."
- Interview and correspondence with Patricia Grace in 1992, August 1998, 2 July 2004, 28 Feb. and 4 Dec. 2006
- "Literary Grants." The Press 27 July 1993: 3.
- "Grace, Patricia." http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writers/gracep.html 22 Oct. 2010.
http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/writers/gracep.html 7 September 2016