Once Were Warriors by Alan Duff
This iconic 1990 novel, later made into an award-winning film of the same name, remains New Zealand’s most-read novel and created quite a stir upon publication. Its brutal portrayal of aspects of the Maori society and the tensions with the Pakeha (white) people proved to be very controversial, even though its author is, in fact, part-Maori. The book (and movie) are now seen as essential chronicles of Kiwi life that had previously been mostly ignored and glossed over – and both are definitely worth a look to truly understand some of the racial divide that still plagues New Zealand.
As The Earth Turns Silver by Alison Wong
The first novel from poet Alison Wong, this book was the winner in the fiction category of the NZ Post Book Awards in 2010. The book is part historical novel/part fiction and is told across several generations using different narrative voices. The book is set in Wellington in the early 20th Century when violent anti-Chinese racism was rife. This is an unlikely love story between a European widow and a young Chinese man against a background of changing attitudes and a hostile environment.Under the Mountain by Maurice Gee