Bulibasha is the title given to the King of the Gypsies, and on the East Coast of New Zealand two patriarchs fight to be proclaimed the king.
Tamihana is the leader of the great Mahana family of shearers and sportsmen and women. Rupeni Poata is his arch enemy. The two families clash constantly, in sport, in cultural contests and, finally, in the Golden Fleece competition to find the greatest shearing gang in New Zealand. Caught in the middle of this struggle is the teenager Simeon, grandson of the patriarch and of his grandmother Ramona, struggling with his own feelings and loyalties as the battles rage on many levels.
Three-time winner of the Wattie/Montana Book of the Year award, Katherine Mansfield fellow, and playwright, Witi Ihimaera is one of New Zealand's most accomplished writers.
Bulibasha, King of the Gypsies won the Montana Book of the Year award in 1995. Ihimaera won the Wattie Book of the Year Award in 1974 and 1986 for Tangi and The Matriarch respectively. His other fiction titles include The Dream Swimmer (sequel to the award-winning The Matriarch); Pounamu, Pounamu; Whanau; The New Net Goes Fishing; The Whale Rider; Dear Miss Mansfield; Kingfisher Come Home; and Nights In The Gardens of Spain. Ihimaera has also edited a major five-volume collection of new Maori fiction and non-fiction, called the Te Aro Marama series. In 1993 Witi Ihimaera spent a year in France on the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship.
It is Witi Ihimaera's writing that also opened the door to his political career. When the then US Ambassador to New Zealand read a copy of Pounamu, Pounamu he passed it on to the Prime Minister of New Zealand at the time, Norman Kirk. At Mr Kirk's request, Witi Ihimaera joined the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and served as a diplomat in Canberra, New York and Washington. He is a respected commentator on Maori, Pacific and indigenous peoples' affairs.