Keri Hulme, New Zealand’s First Booker Prize Winner, Dies at 74

After attending North New Brighton Primary School and Aranui High School in Christchurch, Ms Hulme worked a hop and tobacco picking season in the Tasman region before studying law at the University of Canterbury.

She then took odd jobs around the country before working at the post office in the rural town of Greymouth on the remote West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. She believes it will give her time and space to write.

It was there that she learned how to catch prey, or catch tiny, transparent fry. It was an “obsession”, she said, that would follow her for the rest of her life. Dr Evans describes her regularly hiding from a written residence with a white fishing net strapped to the roof of her car.

“You’ll see this white net, kind of moving out across the parking lot, and you know she’s walking away,” he said.

Mrs. Hulme next lived mainly on the West Coast, for more than four decades in the small New Zealand settlement of Okarito, a former gold mining village, on a piece of land she won the lottery in 1973. She lives further inland. , she told Flash Frontier magazine in 2012, “I was depressed and sick, drinking too much and not doing anything creative.”

Once shy of strangers and a generous host, sociable with those she loved, Ms Hulme had no interest in romantic or sexual relationships, describing herself as a “secret person”. She has never been married or had children and is survived by two older sisters, Kate Salmons and Diane McAuliffe, and an older brother, John Hulme, along with numerous nieces and nephews.

“If you know her, if she knows you, she’ll take her time and campaign the world to make time for you and spend it well,” said Matthew Salmons, her grandson. “The family she was born into and the family she created is the most important thing to her,” he added.

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