17 Aug 2009

Literary figure Alistair Te Ariki Campbell dies

9:29 am on 17 August 2009

Poet, playwright and novelist Alistair Te Ariki Campbell has died, age 84, after a short illness.

He was an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Campbell was born in Rarotonga in 1925, but came to New Zealand as an orphan at the age of eight. He and his three siblings were sent to an orphanage in Dunedin where he stayed until he was 18.

He later admitted that much of the melancholy in his personality and poetry was due to the loss of his mother when he was so young.

As a young man in Wellington he began to write seriously and became part of what was to be known as the Wellington group, which included James K Baxter, Louis Johnson and W H Oliver.

He edited the School Journal from 1955 till 1972, was president of PEN, the writers' organisation, for five years and in 1992 was the Writer's Fellow at Victoria University.