Paula Jane Kiri Morris

Ngāti Wai

1965 -

Paula was born in Auckland and attended Freyberg Memorial Primary, Rangeview Intermediate and Rutherford High School (now Rutherford College). She went on to tertiary study and graduated with a B.A. from the University of Auckland in 1985, a D. Phil from the University of York, England in 1990, an M.A. from Victoria University of Wellington in 2002 and an M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 2004. She worked as a production assistant for BBC Radio from 1989-1991 before taking up the position of Press and Promotions Officer for Virgin Records in London from 1991-1992, and Press and Promotions Manager for Polygram in London from In 1994 she began working for BMG Entertainment in New York as a Product Manager (1994-1996), Label Director (1996-97), and Vice-President of Marketing (1997-98). From 1998-2004 she worked as a freelance writer and brand strategist for clients in the US and New Zealand. In 2004 she took up an appointment as Assistant Professor at Tulane University’s Department of English in New Orleans, a position she still holds.

Paula writes novels, short stories and non-fiction articles and has received numerous writing awards and fellowships including the Hoover Presidential Library Association (US) research scholarship (1999); the Adam Foundation Prize in creative writing from Victoria University of Wellington (2001); the Schaeffer Fellowship in Modern Letters (for her first year of study at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop) in 2002-2003; International Writer-in-Residence for the University of Iowa’s International Programs (2003); and a Teaching/Writing Fellowship (for her second year of study at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop) at the University of Iowa (2003-4). She was awarded the Hubert Church Award for Best First Book of Fiction (for Queen of Beauty) in the 2003 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, and has also received grants from Creative New Zealand, Asia New Zealand Foundation, the New Zealand Book Council and Tulane University. She was also shortlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award in the UK (for False River), was a regional finalist in the 2009 Commonwealth Prize (for Forbidden Cities), and won the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards, Fiction category (for Rangatira), and the 2012 Nga Kupu Ora Maori Book Awards in New Zealand, Fiction category (for Rangatira).

Paula has attended various fiction workshops, beginning with classes at “The Writer’s Voice”, YMCA, New York, from 1996-98 and in the student-run group “Readers and Writers” in New York in 1999-2000. During the completion of her M.A. in Creative Writing at Victoria University of Wellington, and during her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa, Paula participated in weekly workshops.

"In 2008, the year Morris was the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellow, she published Forbidden Cities (Penguin, 2008), a collection that roams the world - Auckland, Los Angeles, Shanghai, London, Budapest, New York, New Orleans – in exploration of escape, transgression, ambition, delusions, and desire. The New Zealand Herald called it 'one of the best short story collections written by a New Zealander in years’, and Forbidden Cities was a regional finalist for the 2009 Commonwealth Prize.

Morris was editor of the ‘expatriate' issue of Landfall in 2009 and also edited the Penguin Book of Contemporary New Zealand Short Stories (Penguin, 2009), a snapshot of New Zealand fiction in the early twenty-first century. An interview with Morris (conducted by Alice Te Punga Somerville) featured in in the anthology Words Chosen Carefully, edited by Siobhan Harvey (Cape Catley Ltd, 2010).

Her novel Rangatira was published in 2011 by Penguin and in German in 2012 by Walde+Graf. Based on the true story of an 1863 trip to England by a group of rangatira - including her tupuna, Paratene Te Manu - Rangatira won the fiction categories of both the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards and the Nga Kupu Ora Maori Book Awards. The novel has been described as an 'extraordinary literary achievement and probably the best of recent New Zealand historical novels’ (New Zealand Books) and ‘a triumph of characterisation’ (Listener).

She has been awarded a number of residencies and fellowships, including the Bellagio Residency in Italy, as well as stays in Passa Porta in Brussels, the International Writers and Translators’ House in Latvia, and Brecht's House in Denmark. Morris has appeared at numerous festivals in Europe, New Zealand, the US, the UK, and China.

Morris's short stories have been published in numerous anthologies, literary journals and magazines, and broadcast on the radio in New Zealand and the US. Her story False River was shortlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award (UK). She also writes essays, book reviews, and arts features, and has twice been a finalist for Reviewer of the Year in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

In 2015, Morris' first long-form essay, On Coming Home, was published by BWB. The essay explores the lives of writer exiles and narrates the author's own return to New Zealand, confronting the very idea of 'belonging' in the process. The New Zealand Herald described it as 'fabulously literary and deeply personal … to be applauded as a contribution to the intellectual life of us, whoever we turn out to be.’

With Point/Scholastic in the US Paula has published four supernatural mysteries for young adults, including the bestselling Ruined (2009) and its sequel Unbroken (2011), both set in New Orleans; Dark Souls (2011), set in York; and The Eternal City (2015), set in Rome. Her children’s book Hene and the Burning Harbour, part of the New Zealand Girl Series, was published by Penguin in 2013.

Since 2003, Paula has taught creative writing at the University of Iowa, Tulane University in New Orleans, the University of Stirling in Scotland and the University of Sheffield in England, as well as at festivals, schools, museums, and community centres all over the world. She returned to New Zealand in 2015 to convene the Master of Creative Writing programme at the University of Auckland. She is the founder of the Academy of New Zealand Literature, a new initiative that positions and promotes contemporary New Zealand writing, and helps mid-career writers locate research, residency and festival opportunities overseas."

Biographical sources

  • Email correspondence from Paula Morris 25 May 2006.
  • 9 September 2016 9 September 2016


  • "Writing Rangatira." Booknotes, 162 (Win 2008): 6-7.
  • On coming home. Wellington, New Zealand : Bridget Williams Books, 2015
  • Fiction

  • "Douglas Street, 1968." ibid. 207-214.
  • "Heroics." JAAM 14 (Spring 2000): 62-65.
  • "Bright." Hayden’s Ferry Review 27 (Fall/Winter 2000): 9-11.
  • "Many Mansions." Huia Short Stories 4. Contemporary Māori Fiction. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia, 2001. 199-206.
  • "Geraniums." Huia Short Stories 4. Contemporary Māori Fiction. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia, 2001. 215–220.
  • "Mon Desir." Landfall 204 (Nov. 2002): 85-91.
  • Queen of Beauty. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin, 2002. Excerpt rpt. in Creative Juices. Ed. Emma Neale. New Zealand: HarperCollins, 2002. 209-222. Excerpts rpt. in Auckland, N.Z.: The City in Literature. Ed. Witi Ihimaera. New Zealand: Exile Publishing, 2003. 20-31, 182-187, 197-201.
  • "The Party." Metro Feb. 2003. 88-90.
  • "Like a Mexican." Listener 3 Jan. 2004. 44-47. Rpt. in Barrelhouse 2 (Dec. 2005): 27-44.
  • "Rangātira." Landfall 208 (Nov 2004): 91-104. Rpt in Best New Zealand Stories. Ed. Fiona Kidman. Vol. 2. New Zealand: Random, 2005. 169-80. Rpt. in Get On The Waka: Best Recent Māori Fiction. Ed. with intro. By Witi Ihimaera. Auckland, N.Z.: Reed Books, 2007. 132-145.
  • Hibiscus Coast. Auckland, N.Z.: Penguin, 2005.
  • "The Argyle." Listener 30 Apr. 2005. 42-44.
  • Trendy but casual. North Shore, N.Z. : Penguin Books, 2007.
  • "Get on the waka : best recent Māori fiction." Ed. Witi Ihimaera. Auckland, N.Z: Reed, c2007.
  • Forbidden cities. North Shore, N.Z. : Penguin Books, 2008.
  • The Penguin book of contemporary New Zealand short stories. North Shore, N.Z. : Penguin, 2009.
  • Ruined. New York, N.Y. : Point, c2009.
  • Lost in translation : New Zealand stories. Ed. Marco Sonzogni. Auckland, N.Z. : Vintage, 2010.
  • Rangatira. Auckland, N.Z. : Penguin Books, 2011.
  • "Folly." Next, (Jan 2011): 168-169.
  • Dark souls : a novel. New York : Point, 2011.
  • Non-fiction

  • "Interesting Tension: Observations from the Intellectual Brothel." Landfall 208 (Nov. 2004): 164-175.
  • "One Summer." Dominion Post 3 Jan. 2005. C1.
  • On Pakiri.
  • "My City: Uptown Girl." Dominion Post 15 Jan. 2005. E6.
  • On New Orleans.
  • "Letter from New Orleans." Metro Mar. 2005. 91-92.
  • "Tourism's China crisis." Metro (Nov 2005): 56-60.
  • "Eyes on the prize." Listener, 199.3402 (23 Jul 2005): 40-41.
  • "Boot camp for writers." Dominion post, (28 May 2005) E11.
  • "A Visit to the Future." Listener 29 Apr. 2006. 36-39.
  • On the Shanghai Literary festival.
  • "Tramps Like Us." Landfall 211 (May 2006): 27-36.
  • On being an expatriate writer.
  • "Casual labour." New Zealand Books, 16.5 (Dec 2006): 22.
  • "Beyond the tide line." Dominion post, (2 Sep 2006): 15.
  • "The envelope, please." Listener, 204.3454 (22 Jul 2006): 42-43.
  • "I think we should go into the past." New Zealand listener (Online), 216.3577 (29 Nov 2008).
  • "Whither the Montana Awards?" Booknotes (Wellington, N.Z. : Online) (Aut 2009): 4-5.
  • Reviews

  • "The Bucket Man redux." Dominion post, (8 Oct 2005): E10.
  • "Our lady of Berlin & Harlem." Listener, 200.3408 (3 Sep 2005): 42.
  • "Fish and spines, tangled lines." Listener (Wellington, N.Z.), 199.3404 (6 Aug 2005): 42-43.
  • REVIEW OF Her body rises by Tracey Slaughter and The House of Reed by Bohan, Edmund.
  • "Hymns to her." Dominion post, (2 Jul 2005): E13.
  • REVIEW OF Katherine Mansfield's men. Ed. Charles Ferrall and Jane Stafford.
  • "Kill Bill : vol 3." Listener, 197.3382 (5 Mar 2005): 38-39.
  • Review of: Writing at the edge of the Universe : essays from the 'Creative writing in New Zealand' Conference, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, August 2003 / edited by Mark Williams.
  • "Home and away." New Zealand Books, 16.5 (Dec 2006): 20.
  • REVIEW OF I am always with you / by Philip Temple. REVIEW OF The Viewing position / by Ian Wedde.
  • "Books." Listener (Wellington, N.Z.), 205.3459 (26 Aug 2006): 42.
  • REVIEW of Different kinds of pleasure by Elizabeth Smither.
  • "Book reviews." Dominion post, (1 Jul 2006): 16.
  • REVIEW OF Shanghai boy / by Stevan Eldred-Grigg. REVIEW OF Maoriland : New Zealand literature 1872-1914 / by Jane Stafford and Mark Williams. REVIEW OF The Bookmen's dominion : cultural life in New Zealand 1920-1950 / by Chris Hilliard.
  • Getting a handle on it ByMorris, Paula InNew Zealand Books, Sum 2007; v.17 n.4:p.21 Journal article GenreBook reviews AboutCrown Lynn : a New Zealand icon (Monk, Valerie Ringer)
  • "Getting a handle on it." New Zealand Books, 17.4 (Sum 2007): 21.
  • "If the shoe fits." Listener, 210.3513 (8 Sep 2007): 45.
  • "Me & Mr Jones." New Zealand listener (Online), 209.3507 (28 Jul 2007).
  • "Little voice : the small worlds of Damien Wilkins." Listener, 209.3506 (21 Jul 2007): 40.
  • "Over the teacups." Listener (Wellington, N.Z.), 208.3492 (14 Apr 2007): 46.
  • "Lost in translation." New Zealand listener, 215.3563 (23 Aug 2008).
  • "Caught short." New Zealand listener, 214.3554 (21 Jun 2008).
  • "London calling." New Zealand listener, 214.3552 (7 Jun 2008).
  • "Tea and sympathy." New Zealand books, 20.3 (Spr 2010): 17.
  • "The place where stories begin." New Zealand books, 25.3 (Spr 2015): 5.
  • Sound recordings

  • Hibiscus Coast. Auckland, N.Z. : Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind, 2011