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 Tākitimu te maunga
Ko Waiau te awa
Ko Tākitimu te waka
Ko Whero, Ko Unikehu, Ko MoToiToi toku tīpuna
Kai Tahu toku iwi Kāti Māmoe toku hapū
Ko Te Runanga o Waihōpai te marae
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 Whero – Unikehu – Moitoito, Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe are my tribes, my marae is Waihopai. I live in Dunedin.
I live in Ōtepoti / Dunedin with my husband Robert. Our children are now adults with families of their own. We are grandparents to eight mokopuna /grandchildren.
I was born in Tuatapere, Western 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 Southland, approx. ten kilometers from the Eastern Southland township of 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 and the Rainbow Pre-school in South Dunedin.
In 2002, my first collection, ‘Feeding the Dogs‘ was published by Otago University Press and given the Jessie McKay Prize for the Best First Book of Poetry, 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 such as Uni Books Dunedin, 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 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 a novel titled, ‘Craggan Dhu Time Will Tell‘, self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing in 2020. This book is 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 outlying areas with our poetry and invite people from the rural communities we visit to read their own poetry. 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).