Long, Don (D.S)

Long, Don (D.S)



In Brief

D.S. Long is a poet, publisher and children’s author. He was a leading figure in the 1970s avant-garde movement to make New Zealand poetry more international, eclectic and adventurous. In 1979 he began collaborating with Witi Ihimaera to encourage diversity and innovation in Māori writing. Together they edited Into the World of Light: an Anthology of Māori Writing. Long worked for Learning Media for many years, where he published Ministry of Education resources for teaching Māori as a second language, and founded Learning Media's Pacific section. Long is available to visit schools as part of our Writers in Schools programme, as well as lead Professional Development sessions for teachers.


LONG, D.S. (Donald Stuart) or Don (1950 –), is a poet, publisher and, as Don Long, children’s author. Born in Walla Walla, USA, to an American mother and New Zealand father, he was a leading figure in the 1970s avant-garde movement of young poets (Gary Langford, Alan Loney, Ian Wedde, et al.) to make New Zealand poetry more international, eclectic and adventurous. His own volumes were Borrow Pit (1971), Storing Stones for Winter (1974), In Search of a Poem (1976) and Poems from the Fifth Season (1977). He was also the innovative editor of Edge, 1971–77.

Moving in 1979 from Taylors Mistake, Christchurch, to Days Bay, Wellington, he began a collaboration with Witi Ihimaera, again with a mission to break down old assumptions and encourage diversity and innovation, but this time by fostering Māori writing. Their co-edited anthology, Into the World of Light: An Anthology of Māori Writing (1982), was a crucial vehicle for the then nascent Māori voice in written literature. It has been followed by their five volumes (to date) of Te Ao Mārama (1992–96).

Working for School Publications and its successor, Learning Media, Long began in 1988 to edit children’s books by contemporary Pacific nations writers. He has published over one hundred, some in up to seven separate language editions. He edited Matariki (1990–94), Te Ata Hāpara (1990–91) and the Tupu series (1988–), all for Learning Media. He founded the Samoan language journal Fōlauga (1997- ). By fostering publication of New Zealand writers working in Cook Islands Māori, Niuean, Samoan, Tokelauan and Tongan, Long contributes to what he calls ‘the breakdown of the idea that New Zealand literature is essentially a Pākehā/Māori art form’.

He summarises his career as ‘contributing to three sea-changes to the face of New Zealand literature’. Each is in retrospect consistent with the multicultural character of his own work, both in his earlier poetry and recent children’s writing, where the affirmation of multiple ancestries and rejection of restrictive categorising can be seen as the core of work that retains its freshness and conviction.

Note: Macrons have been inserted into the text


Don Long was the course director of the National Diploma in Children's Literature course 'The Multicultural Experience of Children's Literature', which he wrote.

After working for Learning Media for nineteen years, where he published the Ministry of Education's current suite of resources for teaching Māori as a second language and then founded Learning Media's Pacific section, Don became the publishing manager at South Pacific Press/Lift Education in 2005.

The Battlefield (2003) was written by Don Long and illustrated by Phillip Paea. This is a story about a girl who discovers that she may have had ancestors who fought on both sides during the colonial land wars. What were those wars really like - and what does it mean to be of mixed ancestry? The Māori translation, Te Tahuna, won the 2004 Te Kura Pounamu Award.

The Lacquered Box by Don Long was published in 2004. It is focused on a journey to Hanoi with a New Zealand-born Vietnamese girl.

Glow-Worm Night by Don Long, illustrated by Tracy Duncan (Reed Publishing, 2004). This is a story about two children who go glow-worming with their parents at Matariki.

Don Long is currently an editor at South Pacific Press | Lift Education, the publishing company that edits and designs instructional series' (including Ready to Read, the Junior Journal, the School Journal, the School Journal Story Library, and Connected) for the Ministry of Education. He is currently editing a new English-Samoan bilingual series of literacy resources for new entrant classrooms for the Ministry of Education, and a series of picture books with kura kaupapa Māori for the NZ Transport Agency.

An article about the last child to touch a living moa (Alice McKenzie at Martin's Bay in 1880) appears in Connected 2013 Level 2. His award-winning short story 'Finding Owl' appeared in the UNESCO story collection Journey Around Asia in 2014 and his Chinese New Zealand story 'Barry and Jim' was published the same year in Eastbourne: An Anthology along with a World War II story 'The Submarine Boom', also written for young people.

With the Honolulu-based Cook Islands writer Johnny Frisbie, Don Long has co-written a series of linked stories set in New South Wales and Rarotonga for The School Magazine in Sydney.

In June 2020, Don Long was made a member of the NZ Order of Merit, for services to literature and education, particularly Pacific language education.


  • The Battlefield features in the 2003 Spring Issue of BRAT: Books for Readers and Teachers

Updated January 2017.