Hunter, Eirlys

Hunter, Eirlys


Primary publisher
Gecko Press
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In Brief

Eirlys Hunter has taught Writing for Children at the IIML, Victoria University of Wellington since 2006. Her bestselling book for young readers The Mapmakers’ Race (Gecko 2018) was shortlisted for the 2019 NZ Children and Young Adults Book Awards.


Hunter, Eirlys was born in London but has lived in Wellington since 1983.

In 1991, Hunter joined the Original Composition class with Bill Manhire at Victoria University, and in 1998 completed an MA in creative writing.

Her short stories have been read on National Radio and appeared in Landfall and Sport, and in various anthologies including Best New Zealand Fiction 2 (ed. Fiona Kidman) and Best New Zealand Fiction 4 (ed. Fiona Farrell).

Hunter's adult novel Between Black and White (2000) was published by Random House.

'Between Black and White is an impressive debut. Read it,' Catherine Von Bohemen wrote in the Evening Post. 'Hunter's character development is superb,' wrote Tracie Barrett in the Otago Daily Times. 'The result is a beautifully crafted, incisive work that draws the reader into its world. I recommend it highly.'

Hunter's children's titles include The Robber and the Millionaire (1996), which was shortlisted for the 1997 Aim Children's Book Awards and The Astonishing Madam Majolica (1996), and The Quake (1999) (serialised on National Radio), which imagines an earthquake hitting Wellington, and the aftermath.

In the Finn’s Quest trilogy, Finn finds himself moving in and out of a computer game in a quasi-medieval world in which, as he is periodically reminded, he only has one life. The trilogy consists of The Queen-Seekers (2000), Coldkeep Castle (2001), and The Slave-Stealers (2004).

A ten-year-old fan wrote to Hunter: 'I got The Queen-Seekers for my birthday. I like it as much as the Harry Potter books, if not more!'

Coldkeep Castle was listed as a 2002 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book.

Hunter has written plays and stories for The School Journal and other educational publications. From 2006-2019 she taught CREW255 Writing for Children at the IIML Victoria University. She went on Book Council Words on Wheels tours in 2001 and again in 2002 as the driver. In the same year, she chaired the inaugural Wellington Writers Walk committee that installed the first eleven text sculptures along the Wellington waterfront in March 2002.

She has been a regular visitor to schools as part of the Writers to Schools programme, and in 2003 was Writer-in-Residence at the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India.

In 2013, she was a judge for the New Zealand Childrens' and Young Adults' Book Awards.

After a long fallow period Hunter started writing again, and her book The Mapmakers’ Race was published by Gecko in 2018. It received outstanding reviews including one on Kim Hill's Saturday Morning programme, where Kate De Goldi said “One of the most poised, stylish children’s books I’ve read in a long time … just an utter delight."

The Mapmakers’ Race has spent time on Unity Books’ bestseller lists in Wellington and Auckland.

Hunter has been on the board of NZ Review of Books Pukapuka Aotearoa since 2014 and, in 2016, she, and editor Louise O’Brien founded the website Hooked on NZ Books He Ao Ano, to promote NZ books, and the art of reviewing, to young adult readers.

Eirlys Hunter teaches Writing for Children at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University.

In 2019, The Mapmakers' Race was shortlisted for the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction and named as a Storylines Notable Book.

In 2020, and it was selected to represent NZ on IBBY’s honour list for 2020 and in 2021, it was selected for the UK Summer Reading Challenge 'Wild World Heroes.'

In November 2021, Gecko Press will publish its sequel, The Uprising: The Mapmakers in Cruxcia. The Uprising will be available in the UK in spring 2022.


Hunter is available to talk to school students of any age. She can give talks about her books, and anything related to writing, or she can run writing workshops.

She is also offering Map-and-Story workshops. The Mapmakers’ Race is igniting children’s interest in mapmaking, so she has developed a workshop that involves students thinking about and creating maps, and then using the maps as launchpads for stories. This can be adapted for students from Year Four to Year Eight and takes a minimum of 50 minutes but can be 2-3 hours.


Updated January 2017.