One of New Zealand's most successful screenwriters and playwrights Dean Parker, who was born and educated in Napier, died on Tuesday at his home in Auckland.

Parker was born in Napier in 1947 and went to school at Napier Marist and Hastings St John's College.

He worked as a writer for much of his life and was prominent in his union, the New Zealand Writers Guild. He wrote extensively for stage, radio, television and film.

Director of Playmarket, and Parker's agent Murray Lynch said Parker had more than 50 plays in his catalogue at Playmarket.


"His playwriting career spans from Smack, his first play produced at Downstage in 1974 to the production of Wonderful which recently had a season at Wellington's Circa Theatre," Lynch said.

"His plays provoke and entertain audiences while examining New Zealand's political history and the political perspective of individuals."

In 1988 Parker wrote: "I would describe myself as a class-conscious writer. I'm with Lenin. I'm for the working class seizing control of the wealth it creates, for the replacement of parliament, the army, the police, the judiciary - all those deadly manacles of state control - with workers' committees and militias, and all this done as part of a world-wide struggle."

He wrote plays set on a factory shop floor, within the National Party caucus, war-ravaged Baghdad, the New Zealand Legation in Moscow, and the story of Robert Muldoon. His plays include adaptations of Great Expectations, The Trial,  The Hollow Men and Other People's Wars.

Parker has won awards for his screenwriting including for co-writing the successful big-screen comedy Came a Hot Friday. In the 1970s he wrote for such pioneering New Zealand television series as Close to Home, Buck House and Mortimer's Patch. His adaptation for the small screen of Ngaio Marsh's Opening Night was the first New Zealand television drama to be screened in America.

His television work includes the Welsh-Kiwi rugby tale Old Scores, which he co-wrote with Greg McGee. With McGee he co-created the 1980s trucking series Roche, and the goldmining drama  Gold, a co-production between New Zealand and Canada. He also contributed to the New Zealand Listener and the New Zealand Herald.

Parker was named a Laureate by the Arts Foundation in 2010 and was the inaugural winner in 2012 of the Playmarket Award given to a playwright for significant artistic contribution to theatre in New Zealand.

In 2017 he turned to prose fiction, writing Johnson, a sequel to John Mulgan's Man Alone.


He had just completed a stage adaptation of The Plague by Albert Camus the day before he died. He is survived by his partner Isabel and their son, Emmet.