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Joseph, Darryn
Writer's File

Darryn Joseph

Joseph, Darryn
In brief
Dr Darryn Joseph (Ngāti Maniapoto) has written in te reo Māori since the early 2000’s. His te reo Māori works extend from readers for young tamariki to short stories for adult audiences. He has a PhD written in te reo and through his work both as a writer and a senior lecturer has helped the Māori language of his students and readership grow. Hewa (2009) won the Te Kura Pounamu Award at the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards, and ‘Tama Tāhae Tama Ora’ (2003) and ‘Taku Ao, Tō Mate Kanehe’ (2015) both won the Pikihuia Award Best Short Story in Māori.
  • Primary publisher
    Huia Publishers Ltd, Pearson Ltd
  • Rights enquiries
  • Publicity enquiries


Joseph, Darryn (1969– ) has worked since 1996 as a Māori language tutor and lecturer. He earned his PhD in Māori Language in 2008, with his thesis, ‘He Kete Momo Kīpeha: Māori Text-types and Figures of Speech’. He has been writing and publishing in Māori since the early 2000s.

Joseph has written several resources for immersion education, including the Te Kōrari series (Hana, 2004), comprising eight textbooks and teachers’ notes exploring creative writing, writing poetry and analysing traditional genre such as mōteatea and haka. His articles about elements of creative writing in Māori have been published in several journals.

His creative writing career began with his winning short story ‘Tama Tāhae, Tama Ora’ in the Huia Short Stories Award Te Pakiwaitara i te reo Māori mā ngā pakeke in 2003. Beginning in 2004, he wrote a series of science fiction chapter books under the pen name Tākuta Hōhepa – RT3: Ki Tua o Rangi Atea (2004), RT3: Ki Tua o K-t-Pae (2005), and RT3: Ki Tua o Tawauwau (2005), all published by Huia Publishers.

Joseph writes in te reo for students of all ages, as well as adults. His picture book Tinirau Raua ko Kae, illustrated by Steve Templar (Hana Ltd, Ministry of Education), retold a traditional Maori tale of Tinirau, ancestor of all the fish, and the priest Kae in rhyming te reo Māori. His comic book Kaitoa!, illustrated by Chris Slane, was written as part of the Kai Ora!: te reo Māori series for Hana Publishing Ltd.

Hewa (Pearson Ed, 2009) was the first book that Joseph wrote and illustrated entirely himself. He sees Hewa as blending fact and fiction, the way the Internet does in real life. It is a fantasy graphic novel, involving artificial intelligence, military software and a futuristic battleship. Of the book, he says:

"I want kids to love reading, so I suppose I write what I liked to read, which is comic books. They are really plot-driven, so the kids have a really sort of pacy read." (Manawatu Standard, 24/07/2009)

Hewa won the 2010 LIANZA Kura Pounamu award, and judge of this award, Alice Heather, believed the book ‘has all the elements of a great fantasy story set in te reo Māori, with captivating language developing the setting. There were many humorous moments and this fantasy novel fills a definite gap for the age group in te reo Māori’. Also in 2010, Joseph was awarded a Creative NZ Te Waka Toi grant to write a chapter book.

Te Poi Koiora (Pearson Ed, 2013), written and illustrated by Joseph, explored a post-apocalyptic world with ever-increasing alarming weather events. Set in a biosphere with dwindling resources this book posed more questions than answers.

Joseph teamed up with Keri Opai to advise on and translate Donovan Bixley’s Tales of Aotearoa: Pūrākau o Aotearoa series. The first book was How Māui Fished Up The North Island (Upstart, 2018), and the simultaneous publication of the Māori edition Te Hīnga Ake a Māui i te Ika Whenua (Upstart, 2018) was shortlisted for The Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for Te Reo Māori at the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It was ‘an exciting reimagining of Māui for a younger audience’ (Stuff, 2018) and the next installment is in press: How Māui Slowed the Sun with the companion Te Whakatautōnga a Māui i te Rā.

His picture book Whakarongo ki ō Tūpuna (Oratia, 2019), illustrated by Munro Te Whata, is a tribute to all those cultural mentors who through their relentless passion instill in their students a love for te ao Māori. Through the lens of an aging teacher’s love of people and the environment we pause and reflect on how great teachers leave an enduring impression on their students. This is a love letter to those aging language and cultural revivalists who are vanishing from our sight but whose lessons resonate across generations. The book is offered in the Duffy Books in Homes project.

A book translated by Joseph, Ki te Moe Aotearoa (Donovan Bixley) was a finalist for the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award at the 2022 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Dr Joseph is a trustee on the boards of Read NZ Te Pou Muramura (2022-) and Storylines (2017– ), and has been a judge for Ngā Kupu Ora Book Awards (2009–present) and the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults (2018).

Darryn Joseph works and lives with his family in Palmerston North.


  • The Manawatu Standard interview with Darryn Joseph
  • Te Karere news item about Darryn Joseph's win of the Te Kura Pounamu Award at the LIANZA Children's Book Awards in 2011 (in te reo)
  • The Sapling interview with Darryn
  • Stuff article about Darryn's contribution to translating How Māui Fished Up the North Island.
June 2023
June 2023