Gregory O’Brien

Magpie-minded poet, painter, curator and critic; based in Wellington, he ranges widely.


Gregory O’Brien spent much of his early life in Auckland, where he trained as a journalist and worked as a newspaper reporter in Northland before returning to study art history and English at The University of Auckland. He migrated south to Wellington in 1990, where he still lives with his partner, poet Jenny Bornholdt.


As an artist, O’Brien has held solo exhibitions and participated in group shows in Auckland, Wellington and elsewhere. He has illustrated the work of other New Zealand writers – among them C. K. Stead, Elizabeth Smither, Bill Manhire and Michael King. His artworks can be found on book covers in New Zealand, Australia, England, Germany, Holland and Russia.


O’Brien is the author of two multi-award-winning introductions to art for the young and curious: Welcome to the South Seas (AUP, 2004) and Back and Beyond (AUP, 2008), which both won the Non-Fiction Prize at the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young People.


His most recent books include A Micronaut in the Wide World: The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy (AUP, 2011) Beauties of the Octagonal Pool (AUP, 2012), Whale Years (AUP, 2015) and See What I Can See: New Zealand Photography for the Young and Curious ( AUP, 2015)