Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he mauka 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, Irish, English and Scandinavian descent.

Through my father’s line, I am of Scottish and Irish descent.

Ko Tākitimu te mauka

Ko Waiau te awa

Ko Tākitimu te waka  

Ko Hine Hiro Whero, Ko Urukehu Whero, Ko MoToiToi toku tīpuna

Kai Tahu  Kāti Māmoe 

Ko Te Runanga o Waihōpai 

Ko Takutai o Te Tītī te marae

Ko Ōraka Aparima te Rūnaka

Nō Ōtepoti ahau

My mountain, the Takitimu mountain range; my river, the Waiau, Murihiku; my ancestors are: Urukehu Whero – Hine Hiro Whero – Motoito; Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe are my tribes; the maraes I affiliate to are:  Te Rūnanga o Waihōpai (Waihōpai Invercargill) and Takutai o te Tītī (Aparima Riverton.)


I live in Ōtepoti Dunedin with my husband Robert. Our children are now adults with families of their own. We are grandparents to nine mokopuna  / grandchildren.

I was born in Tuatapere, Western Murihiku Southland and spent my formative years in the neighbouring 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 Murihiku Southland, approx. ten kilometers from the Eastern Murihiku Southland township of Maruawai Gore. After four years as a pupil at the small, two-roomed, country school of Wendon (now closed) 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 set up the Rainbow Pre-School in South Dunedin.

In 2002, my first poetry collection, ‘Feeding the Dogs‘ was published by Otago University Press and was awarded the Jessie McKay Prize, 2003 for Best First Book of Poetry. My second poetry 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 such as Uni Books Dunedin,

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 Uni Books and Paper Plus, Dunedin) it is available for purchase directly from me via email (see below) or from The Cuba Press site HERE

I have also have two novels titled, Craggan Dhu (2020) and Quick Blue Fire (2022) that have been independently published through Kindle Direct Publishing. These books are available through Amazon as an e-reader or paperback. The paperbacks are 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 outlying areas with our poetry and invite people from the rural communities we visit to read their own poetry. 2022 is is our tenth year of operation. Go HERE to read about our ventures.

You can contact me on my email : kmckcooke @ gmail. com (without spaces).

I also have another blog called Time & Place which you can find at: {I no longer contribute to this blog; however older, previous posts are still able to be accessed.}


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