Photo taken by photographer, Kate Cooke
Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain
I am Kay McKenzie Cooke, the daughter of the late Donald Patrick McKenzie and the late Shirley Alison McKenzie (nee Lee) and the eldest of their seven children.
Through my mother’s line, I am Māori and of Scottish and English descent.
Through my father’s line, I am of Scottish and Irish descent.
Ko Takatimu te maunga. Ko Waiau te awa. Ko Tākitimu te waka. Ko MoiToiToi (Kāti Māmoe, Kai Tahu), Ko Timu (Ngāti Kahungunu) tōku tipuna, Ko Kāi Tahu, tōku iwi, Ko Kāti Māmoe, tōku iwi, Ko Te Runanga o Waihōpai, Oraka Aparima, Hokonui Rūnanga tōku marae
My maunga / mountain, the Takitimu mountains, my awa / river is the Waiau, Murihiku, my ancestors are Moitoitoi (Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu) and Timu (Ngāti Kahungunu). The marae (s) I affiliate to are: Waihopai, Ōraka Aparima and Hokonui Rūnanga .
I live in Ōtepoti / Dunedin with my husband Robert. Our children are now adults with families of their own. We are grandparents to eight grandchildren.
I spent my formative years in the small seaside town of Orepuki, located on the southern coast of Te Wai Pounamu, the South Island of New Zealand and where I attended Orepuki Primary School (now closed.) When I was ten years old we moved inland to Otama Valley, Northern Southland, approx. ten kilometers 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. After high school, I attended Dunedin Teacher’s College (as it was called then) and started a career in teaching – at first at primary school level and later, in the early childhood sector. In the early 1990’s I started up an early childhood pre-school in South Dunedin called Rainbow Pre-School, which is still going strong.
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. (These two books are now out of print, but available in libraries throughout New Zealand). My third poetry book, ‘Born to a Red-Headed Woman’ was published by Otago University Press in May, 2014. As well as being able to be bought or ordered from selected bookshops, it is also available to buy on-line from Book Depository
My fourth collection of poetry is titled, ‘Upturned’ and was published by The Cuba Press in June 2020. As well as at selected bookshops (such as University Bookshop, Dunedin) it is available for purchase directly from me via email (see below) or from The Cuba Press site HERE
I have also have a novel titled, ‘Craggan Dhu Time Will Tell’, self-published by Kindle Direct Publishing, 2020. Available through Amazon as an e-reader or as a paperback. Also available from me via email (see below). GO HERE FOR REVIEWS
All books can also be ordered from myself by emailing me at kmckcooke @ gmail. com (no spaces.)
With Dunedin writer Jenny Powell, I am the ‘K’ component of the J&K poetry-reading duo.
Among the things we do to promote poetry in Aotearoa / New Zealand, is travel to outlyingl areas with our poetry and invite people from the rural communities we visit to read their own poetry. ‘Breaking City Limits for Fine Country Lines’, is our by-line. 2021 is is our eighth year of operation. Go HERE to read about our ventures.
You can contact me on my email : kmckcooke @ gmail. com (without spaces).