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Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923) put New Zealand on the literary map with her still-admired short stories set in New Zealand (though she spent most of her adult life in Europe). Among contemporary fiction writers, Keri Hulme won the prestigious Booker McConnell Prize for The Bone People in 1985; the late Janet Frame became famous for Owls Do Cry, An Angel at My Table, and several others; Owen Marshall is perhaps our finest living short-story writer; and the late Barry Crump is a legend of a completely unique, raw, backcountry style, having produced books like A Good Keen Man and Hang On a Minute Mate.

Top Maori writers include Witi Ihimaera, Patricia Grace, and Alan Duff. In addition, Maurice Gee, Maurice Shadbolt, Fiona Kidman, and Lauris Edmond all warrant attention.

Filmmaker Jane Campion attracted world attention with The Piano (1993), which was nominated for nine Academy Awards. (Anna Paquin of Wellington won best supporting actress.)

Director Peter Jackson grabbed headlines when he secured Hollywood funding for The Lord of the Rings, which was filmed in 2000 with the biggest film budget ever. His Heavenly Creatures (1994) was the winner of the Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival; and of course the Lord of the Rings trilogy went on to win a cluster of Oscars. Jackson has since added to his success with King Kong and, at press time, was filming The Hobbit. The Weta Studios in Wellington are now a major tourism venture, and there are numerous location tours all over New Zealand.

Two of Maori author Alan Duff's novels have also been made into successful films; Once Were Warriors and What Becomes of the Broken Hearted shocked audiences with their true-to-life violent portrayal of Maori gang society. Niki Caro's Whale Rider in 2002 won international acclaim. Spurred on by Peter Jackson's success, we now have a thriving film industry.

The very fact that we have such diverse landscapes within a small country has also attracted international filmmakers keen to film here. Much of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was filmed in the South Island; and Tom Cruise filmed Samurai in the North Island's Taranaki district. Indian Bollywood film crews are also regular visitors.

We've also turned out our fair share of musicians, none more famous than internationally regarded opera singer Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. On the pop scene, Crowded House and Tim Finn had big international hits in the '80s and '90s; and today we have a slew of Auckland-based rap artists making it big. Finally, Hayley Westenra has won hearts worldwide with her pop-opera crossover albums.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.