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Photo taken by Kate Cooke

 ‘I know I was writing stories when I was five. I don’t know what I did before that. Just loafed, I suppose’. P.G. Wodehouse


I am of Kai Tahu, Katimamoe, Ngati Kahungunu, Scottish, English and Irish descent. I live in Dunedin with my husband Robert and we are grandparents to eight grandchildren.

I spent my formative years in the small seaside town of Orepuki, located on the south-western coast of the South Island of New Zealand. Here I was introduced to wild weather and the craft of writing; my mother encouraging me from an early age to write a weekly poem or short story for the children’s page of the ‘Southland Times’.

When I was ten years old, we moved inland to Otama Valley, Northern Southland, a green and lonely valley-landscape twenty miles away from the township of Gore. After four years as a pupil at the small, two-roomed, country school of Wendon, I attended Gore High School.

In the early 1970’s I left my  Southland home to attend Dunedin Teacher’s College, after which I entered into a teaching career. Marriage and parenthood followed during which time I continued to write sporadic, sparse pieces  – mostly poetry or descriptive journal-type entries looking for a journal to go into. As well, I was a faithful keeper of diaries; the now old-fashioned concept of the Five Year Diary being a favourite.

Sometime during the late-1980’s (at the same time as starting up and running an early childhood pre-school, therefore adding to the crazy-busy nature of my life at that time) I decided to take writing seriously, attending evening writing classes run by the well-known Dunedin teacher, Charles Croot. As well, I completed several Otago University English Department papers. Among these was a Writing Paper taken by the writer John Dolan, who encouraged me to submit my first poetry m.s. to Otago University Press.

In 2002, my first collection, ‘Feeding the Dogs’ was published by Otago University Press and won the Jessie McKay prize for the Best First Book of Poetry, awarded at the NZ Book Awards, 2003. My second collection, ‘Made for Weather’ was published by Otago University Press in 2007. My third poetry book, ‘Born to a Red-Headed Woman’ was published by Otago University Press in May, 2014.

Recently I have branched out into novel-writing, finishing a m.s. with the working title, ‘Craggan Dhu’, which is presently looking for a publisher. As well, I am pulling together poems for a fourth collection of poetry, as yet untitled.


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