Profile &

Gavin Bishop  O.N.Z.M
Ngati Pukeko, Ngati Awa, Ngati Mahuta, Tainui

Gavin Bishop is a children’s writer of international, as well as local, reputation. As a picture book author and artist he has published 70 books that have been translated into twelve languages and won numerous awards. He has also written the libretti for two children’s ballets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

His distinctive ink and watercolour illustrations are a feature of stories that are sometimes traditional, sometimes original. Stories that have an obvious Canterbury setting include Mrs McGinty and the Bizzare Plant (Oxford University Press 1981), Bidibidi (OUP 1982) and The Horror of Hickory Bay (OUP 1984).

Others such as Katarina (Random House 1990) and Hinepau (Scholastic 1994) relate to his bi-cultural heritage. The House that Jack Built (Scholastic 1999), which deftly combined traditional words with pictures illustrating the colonization of New Zealand, was Book of the Year in the 2000 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

AOTEAROA, The New Zealand Story (Penguin Random House 2017) traced the Maori and European history of Aotearoa for the last 65 million years. It was Children's Book of the Year in 2018.

Gavin Bishop has been shortlisted for NZ book awards more times than any other author of any kind.

He is widely travelled and has been a guest author and speaker, through UNESCO, in Japan, China, Indonesia and the USA. He was a guest lecturer at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1996.


  • Diploma in Fine Arts (Honours) in Painting – Canterbury University School of Fine Arts 1964 – 1967
  • Secondary Teachers Diploma with Honours – Secondary Teachers’ College 1968

Professional History

During his years of secondary school teaching he was involved in the following professional activities:
- Curriculum writing for the Department of Education
- Examining National School Certificate, University Entrance and Bursary Art Examinations
- Planning and running National Art Education Conferences
- Travelling as a Secondary Schools’ Art Adviser for the Southern Region, 1978.
  • HOD Art Linwood College 1969 – 1989
  • Lecturer in Illustration and Drawing at the Rhode Island School of Design, USA 1996
  • UNESCO - Asian Cultural Centre for UNESCO – guest lecturer and workshop facilitator in China 1992 and Indonesia 1997
  • Lecturer at the School of Art and Design, Christchurch 1999 – 2001
  • External Peer Assessor of Literature Funding Applications for Arts Council of NZ and Creative NZ 1988 – 2016
  • Trust Member of The Press Christchurch Writers’ Festival 2000 – 2005
  • Dan Davin Trust Young Writers’ Competition – judge and workshop facilitator  2008
  • Talks, lectures, seminars, workshops and key-note speeches about Children’s Literature –presenting a large number of these nationally on a regular basis
  • Society of Authors’ Mentor Programme – workshop facilitator
  • Featured speaker at the 2016 IBBY Congress, Auckland 2016
  • Member of the Governance Board for the Southland Museum in Invercargill, New Zealand 2021


Since 1981 Gavin Bishop has written and/or illustrated the following publications or projects:
  • 70 Children’s Picture Books translated into twelve languages
  • 40 Non-fiction stories for Harcourts Educational Publishers, San Antonio, Texas, USA
  • 30 Educational Readers for New Zealand Publishers.
  • 2 Libretti and Designs for ballets commissioned by the Royal New Zealand Ballet Company – TERRIBLE TOM 1985 and TE MAIA AND THE SEA DEVIL 1986
  • 30 Educational Readers for New Zealand Publishers
  • 3 of his books were adapted for the stage by Capital E in Wellington– HINEPAU 2005 and KIWI MOON 2008 and the Court Theatre in Christchurch – MRS MCGINTY AND THE BIZARRE PLANT 2015
  • Story and character designs for a three-dimensional, animated picture book - GIANT JIMM JONES in conjunction with the HIT Lab, Canterbury University 2003 (see for details)

Professional Profiles

  • Articles about his work have appeared in publications such as Magpies, Spinning Tales, The NZ Listener, The Press, The NZ Herald, White Ravens, The Horn Book, Artists of the Page, July in Winter, Landfall, Storylines Inside Story as well as several foreign language periodicals. He has been interviewed on radio and television many times
  • A television documentary ‘KETE ARONUI Gavin Bishop’ was produced by Maori TV, 2010
  • ‘JOURNEYS IN IMAGERY: The Art and Illustration of Gavin Bishop’ by Briar Barry 2009:  a dissertation for a Degree in Art History at the University of Otago
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