Book Author Whiti Hereaka
Rights Available World excl. NZ

Kurangaituku is the story of Hatupatu told from the perspective of the traditional ‘monster’, Kurangaituku, the bird woman. In the traditional story, told from the view of Hatupatu, he is out hunting and is captured by a creature that is part bird and part woman. The bird woman imprisons him in her cave in the mountains. Hatupatu eventually escapes and is pursued by Kurangaituku. He evades her when he leaps over hot springs, but Kurangaituku goes into them and dies. In this version of the story, Kurangaituku takes us on the journey of her extraordinary life – from the birds who sang her into being, to the arrival of the Song Makers and the change they brought to her world, and her life with Hatupatu and her death. Through the eyes of Kurangaituku, we come to see how being with Hatupatu changed Kurangaituku, emotionally and in her thoughts and actions, and how devastating his betrayal of her was.

Winner of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

About the Author
Whiti Hereaka
(Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa, Ngāti Whakaue, Tūhourangi, Pākehā) is an award-winning novelist and playwright. She holds a Master’s in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) from the International Institute of Modern Letters. She is the author of three novels: The Graphologist’s Apprentice, and the award-winning YA novels Bugs and Legacy. In 2019, Legacy won the New Zealand Children and Young Adults Book Award for YA fiction. She is also co-editor, with Witi Ihimaera, of an anthology of Māori myths, Pūrākau, published in 2019. Whiti teaches Writing for the Young at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University.


Huia Publishers


152mm x 229mm



Literary Fiction

Age range

Publication Date
July 2021

Rights Available:
World excl. NZ

Rights Agents:


Eboni Waitere

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Told in a way that embraces Māori oral traditions, Kurangaituku is poetic, intense, clever, and sexy as hell.

Finalist Judges Comments, Jane Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction 2022

Kurangaituku is unambiguously queer and perhaps ambiguously a woman and definitely a story-teller. There are so many scenes across this book that set a fire in me.

essa may ranapiri, The Spinoff

It felt as though the bird-woman had grabbed me and pulled me into her worlds—both the light and the dark—with a frantic insistence.

Jackie Lee, Newsroom