Writers & Readers Festivals

It seems this is the season for writers’ Festivals. I have four appearances lined up between now and the end of the year. The first is the mighty Auckland Writers’ Festival this week. I will be appearing on Thursday 25th in the gala opening at 7 pm and the next day Friday at 11 am... Continue Reading →

The New Zealand death

Driving back from Upper Hutt recently after one of our many storms I marvelled at the way the usually placid Hutt River was bank-to-bank, rushing muddily toward the sea. Harbouring mentions some of those floods back when there were no stop banks to regulate the flow. In the early days death by drowning was known... Continue Reading →


This morning a family of five kākā were squabbling outside my window. Boy they were loud. There didn’t seem to be a fight on. Or sex. Just pure joy, it seemed, at making a racket. When we came to this house almost fifty years ago kākā were never seen or heard. They are large, browny... Continue Reading →

Four Denniston Rose Songs

Near the end of The Denniston Rose novel are the words of a song about her. I called it a West Coast Ballad  by ‘Anon’ but actually I made it up. At the launch the family sang it to music Laughton had composed in Victorian style. Bill Manhire (my creative writing tutor) was at the... Continue Reading →


Naming places can be a very important way of claiming ownership. The New Zealand Company when they arrived in Port Nicholson in 1840 busily set about naming every bay, hill, beach and rise. When it seemed the town which is now Wellington was going to be settled at Petone (Pito One in those days, the... Continue Reading →

Stony ground

Today I planted a taupata seedling out on the park. First I used a sledgehammer to make an indentation in the rock below my fence. Then I added soil and mulch and lovingly planted the shiny-leaved little thing, staking it and piling some rocks back on to guard against the ferocious wind – and the... Continue Reading →

Taking my time

There is always a long time (about a year) between when I submit a manuscript to the publisher and when it hits the bookshops. There will be many suggestions and corrections and fact checks from the publishers’ readers for me to deal with, but there will also be plenty of time to get on with... Continue Reading →

Number One

Well Harbouring is out in the wide world now and I am feeling pleased. Not only is it a beautiful day in my beloved Wellington, but the book has been Number One for three consecutive weeks on the NZ Fiction Bestseller list. Phew! For a writer, when your book hits the bookshops (and these days... Continue Reading →

RNZ Interview

There were many lovely texts and emails in to Radio New Zealand during my interview with Kim Hill last Saturday. Thank you for your memories of old times and far places. I got to read most of them. If you missed the interview and are interested, you can listen here. Harbouring seems to be tracking... Continue Reading →

Harbouring now afloat

Harbouring is being rolled out now and should be available everywhere by 5th April. Harbouring is in some ways similar and in others different from my earlier work. It is historical and set in Wellington – my home town - between 1839 and 1844. This is earlier than I have explored or tried to imagine... Continue Reading →

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