New Zealand Fiction & Non-Fiction by Gender & Ethnicity 2015

…and here is the breakdown of fiction published in New Zealand in 2015, by the gender and ethnicity of the authors (as far as I can make out).

In terms of gender, women dominate in the fiction stakes, with 44 fiction books by women published in 2015 (59% of titles) compared with 30 men (40%). The ‘Other’ category refers here to a book jointly authored by a man and a woman.

Here is the pie chart:

gender fiction 2015

In non-fiction, the proportions are reversed, with 13 titles (62%) by male writers and 8 (38%) by female writers (see below). So it kind of balances out. If you add fiction, non-fiction and poetry together, 82 titles were by women, 83 by men and one by both. Yay, right? (Note: I’ve left out a few categories, like Drama and Criticism, but included Letters & Autobiography).

NZ Non-fiction by gender

An analysis by ethnicity, however, tells a miserable little tale indeed.  Here is the pie chart for fiction:

2015 fiction by ethncity

Yep, that’s right, with 68 titles, Pakehā writers got 91% of the pie; Māori writers and Asian/Indian writers got 4% each with 3 titles apiece and Pasifika writers got 1%, with a single title (ie Albert Wendt wrote a book).

By way of comparison, in 2014, 88% of fiction titles were by Pakehā writers, 7% by Māori writers, 5% by Asian/Indian writers and none by Pasifika writers.

And for non-fiction, 85% of titles (18 in total) were written by Pakehās and 5% (1 title each) by a European/Jewish writer, a Māori writer and a Pasifika writer.

Non-ficiton by ethnciity 2015

How do I know what ethnicity everyone is, I hear you cry. Well, I don’t know for sure. I visit at least 3 websites (author pages and so on) and look for clues. So there may be some undercounting. If a writer does not describe themselves as Māori, Asian or Pasifika and does not mention an iwi affiliation, I have counted them as European/Pakehā.

One last pie: all fiction, non-fiction & poetry titles for 2015. 90% of titles were by Pakehā, 4% by Māori and 2% each by European/Jewish, Pasifika and Asian authors. What a lot of pie…

All titles 2015

For the record, I’m female and Pakehā (I was born in the UK and grew up in England, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand; I’ve lived in New Zealand since I was twelve.) Two of the books published in 2015 were mine.

I put this analysis together because it matters to me. Fairness matters. Having a national literature that represents our national population matters. Being able to read a diverse range of voices matters. Also, I’m curious (in more ways than one) and like playing with spreadsheets 🙂

My source for the books published in 2015 is the Journal of Commonwealth Literature. Previous posts on this subject can be found here:


  1. Interesting reading, Janis. These things are important to know. What’s the ultimate source for the ‘European/Jewish’ subcategory? I think it’s invalid and would like to find out why someone has set it up. Thanks.

  2. Thanks Mary. There were 2 writers who described themselves as European and Jewish, so rather than me trying to fit them into a box, I just used the category they had chosen for themselves.

    • I think they were silly – it’s just muddying the waters, to my mind. It’s a category I would fit into myself but wouldn’t bother stipulating, since it can encourage people to think of religion as a race. Again, thanks for your work on this – we need to know.

  3. Thank you for this important work – which Im citing in my upcoming lecture! The numbers by ethnicity are dismal, but not surprising. Its slightly better when you look outside the margins. I’m Samoan/Maori and I released two novels in 2015, and one in 2014. But Im an indie publisher so my titles arent listed on the source material used for the survey. There’s a lot of exciting things being done in the ‘wilderness’ outside the traditional publishing industry, where marginalised writers are thriving and we can read a rich variety of diverse voices. My children are educating me about fanfiction sites, peer reviewed writing sites, web comics, group storytelling , choose your own adventure apps and more.

  4. […] New Zealand Fiction & Non-Fiction by Gender & Ethnicity 2015 NZ Poetry 2015 by gender & ethnicity Poetry & Gender in New Zealand Publishing Part 2 Poetry & Gender in New Zealand Publishing 2008 – 2010 Poetry & Gender in New Zealand Publishing – an occasional series Poetry and Gender in New Zealand Publishing – the latest Poetry published in New Zealand, by gender & ethnicity – to 2014 NZ Fiction & Non-fiction by gender & ethnicity 2014 […]

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