Keri Hulme - Reads from The Bone People

Keri Hulme

Keri Hulme Photo: Jane Zusters



Keri Hulme, whose novel the bone people was in 1985 Aotearoa’s first Booker Prize winner — and continues to attract strong interest and debate — died at the very end of 2021. 


Keri will be celebrated at WORD Christchurch on 4 September ( and the Nelson Arts Festival on 23 October ( A typescript of the novel has just been sold to benefit Māori writers through the Māori Literature Trust, and Spiral Collectives, the bone people’s first publisher, will soon publish an eBook of contributions from people who knew Keri, Keri: Our Kuru Pounamu


These Radio New Zealand recordings, produced by actor and broadcaster Dulcie Smart, are the only known recordings of Keri reading from the bone people.


“If I remember correctly, I struggled to persuade Radio Drama to commission the readings. I was the junior in the department — and this was before Keri won the Booker Prize. It wasn't obvious to my bosses that this was absolutely essential programming. But it was to me!” writes Dulcie in Keri: Our Kuru Pounamu. “I no longer know why we didn’t ask her to record the whole book.”


Keri Hulme, Dulcie Smart, Kevin Newcomb

Keri Hulme records excerpts from The Bone People Photo: Dulcie Smart


Dulcie continues: “I remember Keri being cripplingly nervous when she arrived at the studio, because she'd done so few readings, she'd not been recorded before, this was not her world. And I was very much in awe of her, and found myself creeping into shyness. At first I wondered how we'd breathe life into the recordings. Then I had a brainwave — I barely knew Keri, but I did have a fair idea of Kerewin... — so I asked her whether a whiskey might ease things? I guess I dashed out and bought a bottle, I don't remember. But certainly we all had a wee morning tipple — there's a photo of the two of us, together with the sound engineer, Kevin Newcomb, sitting in the studio. Keri is toasting the photographer with her glass — and we all look quite mellow enough to get through the work!”





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