NZ Society of Authors – Northland Branch Members’ Profiles


Chairperson – Justine Payen

justine payen

After completing a semester on NorthTec’s Diploma of Applied Writing in 2010 Justine sent her picture book assessment to HarperCollins, who published it and released Tea With Miss Tilly illustrated by Phillip Webb in March 2012. On 20th August 2011 she also had a profile piece on country singer Carleen Still published in The Northern Advocate.

Having completed Level  5, 6 and the advanced Applied Writing Diploma Level 7 at the end of 2012, Justine is continuing to write a Young Adult fantasy based in Whangarei about shape shifters, angels and creatures of nightmares. She continues to study part-time while waiting for NorthTec’s Applied Writing Degree programme to start.

Justine lives with her fiancé, four kids (thankfully two of which come and go), dog, cat, cockatiels and a budgie which keep her busy, while still renovating (on a shoestring) nine years after buying a house advertised as Nightmare on George Street.

Deputy Chairperson – Lesley Marshall

Membership Secretary – Di Menefy

1173 NZ Post Childrens Book Awards 2011In 1996 Di was instrumental in forming the Northland Branch of NZSA. Until then Northland members either travelled to Auckland for meetings or had to make do with written communications. When the Northland branch was started it had about 25 members and now has over 80. Di has held a committee position since the branch was first conceived and at various times has been Chairperson, National Council Delegate, Website Officer and Treasurer.
Di’s first stories and articles were published in the New Zealand Farmer and School Journal in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but she got sidetracked into journalism. During the 1980s and 1990s most of her published work was non-fiction and she spent five years as a part-time feature writer for the local paper, then went freelance to work on commissioned histories. Her first junior novel (River Crossing) was published in 2001. In 2010 her second junior novel, Shadow of the Boyd, was published by HarperCollins. This book was a finalist in the NZ Post Awards and went on to win the LIANZA Esther Glen medal.
Di is now Programme Leader for the Northtec Applied Writind Diploma and is currently working on a third (and fourth) novel.

Minutes Secretary – Kathleen Wynn

Kath has taught secondary school students – mainly in English and computer studies – in Australia, England, Canada and New Zealand for more years than she cares to remember and is currently tutoring in the Applied Writing course for NorthTec, Whangarei.  She has written in conjunction with a senior student a school production, Forward to the Past and produced and edited a number of school magazines, school newspapers and two books of student writing, as well  as having her own articles published in various magazines over the years but the main focus of her writing during the past few years has been biographies and reflections for Hospice patients.  She has just completed her sixteenth biography.  She also works with English Language Partners and has recently completed, with a young Tibetan refugee mother, an autobiography of life and imprisonment in Tibet under Chinese rule, which is currently looking for a publisher.

In addition, Kath is a transcriptionist, transcribing interviews and other material for authors and students.

Treasurer & Event Coordinator – Kathy Derrick

Kathy 2

Kathy Derrick writes mainly for children and young adults.  Most of her published works are with Learning Media.  Her latest projects include tidying up a junior fantasy novel, and reviewing New Zealand children’s books and interviewing their authors at: NZ Children’s Book Reviews.  Kathy is a trained tertiary teacher, and tutors on the NorthTec Applied Writing Diploma.

Newsletter Editor – Trish Fenton

Publicity – Piet Nieuwland

PietPiet Nieuwland is a poet who enjoys live poetry readings. He first appeared in the Globe Tapes (Auckland 1985) and has since read poetry in a wide variety of gatherings and forums throughout the country including Pechakucha evenings. His poems have been published in many places including Landfall, Live Lines, Mattoid, Takahe, Snafu, Take Flight, Tongue in your ear, Poetry NZ, online and the mural on the tunnel walkway in Whangarei. His most recent poetry booklet is Tzarinas Equinoctal. He also plays around with flash fiction. He is currently involved in Poets Exposed poetry readings in Whangarei and has just released a chapbook compilation of Northland poetry titled Fast Fibres Poetry.

He has worked as a forester for the NZ Forest Service and as a strategic management planner for the Department of Conservation and enjoys sailing, planting trees, vegetable gardening and the countryside.

Websites: Take FlightTe Ao Kikokiko

Committee – Heather Whelan

Heather WhelanHeather Whelan writes freelance articles, mainly about travel. She is currently published most months in Motorhomes, Caravans & Destinations.  Previous articles have appeared in the New Zealand Listener, the New Zealand Herald and Wilderness and Next magazines.  Heather also writes for the UK market and has been published in The Lady, This England, Evergreen, Welsh Country, Derbyshire Life, Practical Boat Owner and many other yachting magazines, including in the USA and Australia.

Heather has written an art book for teachers, Smart Art, and a picture book, The Crazy Idea.

Current projects include a travel memoir about sailing from England to New Zealand and a junior novel set in the 1800s.

Committee – Karen Phillips

Karen Phillips began writing in 2009 winning the Katherine Mansfield Novice award and the Heartland competitions that year and has continued to be successful in other competitions since then. Her stories have been published in Takahe and Flash Frontier and included in the Fresh Ink anthology. Her short story collection A Question of Blood was published by Steele Roberts in 2017. She lives on a hill overlooking the sea with her husband, twenty olive trees and sometimes a big black Labrador dog.

Northland Branch Members

Zana Bell

Zana BellZana Bell writes in a variety of genre, her novels covering YA, historical adventure, and contemporary romance. Her second novel based on Charlotte Badger – convict, pirate and New Zealand’s first known English woman migrant – won the Cataromance Single Title’s 10 Best Books of 2008. In 2010 she won the Cataromance Reviewers’ Award for her romance, Tempting the Negotiator. She has also written short stories and articles that have appeared in publications such as Landfall, NZ Geographic, Takahe, Grace and History Scotland as well as being broadcast on National Radio. In 2000 she was awarded a Creative New Zealand grant and was the recipient of a National Archives Oral Histories grant in 2002. In 2006 she worked with Elizabeth Smither under the NZ Society of Authors Mentor Scheme and was shortlisted for the NZSA Mid-Careers Grant in 2012. In 2014 she was awarded a Vice Chancellor’s scholarship to complete a PhD in Creative Writing at AUT.

Donna Blaber

Donna BlaberDonna Blaber writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. She is an experienced journalist, magazine editor and author. Her career includes working as the road trip editor for a popular NZ car magazine, the chief editor of a motorhome mag, and as the launch editor of a new renovation magazine. She is widely published and for four consecutive years her feature articles made the finals of the Cathay Pacific Travel Media Awards. In 2013 she won Creative Northland’s Excellence in the Arts Business Award.
Donna’s first book was commissioned in 2004; since then she has produced more than 40 titles. When she is not writing she teaches creative writing workshops for children. She is also available for writer visits as part of the Book Council’s Writers in Schools programme,%20Donna
While the majority of her work is published by mainstream publishers, she also runs a boutique publishing company which publishes, markets and distributes the popular Kiwi Critters® series of books for young children.

Narine Groome

Narine taught juniors as a primary teacher for years, which motivated her to write for children. In 2009 Penguin published her children’s picture book, Wheelbarrow Wilbur, realising a dream. She has 20 more children’s books waiting and wishes she could draw!

Currently, she is writing her first full-length play for a PANZ competition, 90 minutes in length. It’s ready to send, so she’s feeling chuffed! She has recently had some success with plays for PANZ – spaced out over a long time. Her play, A Word in Edgeways, was third in a PANZ competition last year, and another adult play, A Bag of Flour, was second in a PANZ competition in 2005. She has been re-motivated to try her hand at playwriting, and is enjoying the genre.

Jac Jenkins

Jac bioJac privately believes that her greatest writing accomplishment was the highly commended award for tidy writing that she won in primary school, as her hand-writing is usually exceptionally poor. Luckily she now does all of her creative writing on her laptop. Squeezing her writing between her two library jobs can be challenging, however she found time to win the Northland Short Story of the Year in both 2012 and 2013. She has had work published in the Northern Advocate, National Poetry Day in Northland and Flash Frontier and in 2012 was awarded a poetry mentorship through the NZ Society of Authors. Jac is also a member of the Northland poetry group, Take Flight.

Jac lives in rural Whangarei with her daughter, five hens and two cats. She and her partner live 3 ½ hours apart, yet somehow manage to spend most weekends together in one house or the other.

Sun Lyoung Kim

SunSun Lyoung Kim was born in Seoul, Korea and immigrated to New Zealand in 1996. She has lived in Whangarei for 18 years. She graduated from NorthTec in 2006 with the Diploma in Applied Writing and was awarded the PEN prize from the New Zealand Society of Authors, Northland Branch. Since 2010 she has been writing educational columns on ‘Delicious Education’- a subsidiary company of Cho Sun Il Bo.

She published ‘Becoming a Kiwi’ in School Journal Part 1 Number 2, 2006 – and ‘Walking on the Grass’ in School Journal Part 1 Number 4, 2006.From 2006 to 2007 she has published columns on a Korean web newspaper about New Zealand and in 2005 published an article about a Korean folktale story in Whangarei Report. She is currently working on translating David Hill’s book, ‘Right Where it Hurt’ into Korean.

Anne McDonell

Anne McDonellAnne worked as a speech language therapist and special needs teacher for 30 years. She has written poetry, published mainly in School Journal and literary magazines, and three educational books: Speech and Language Development 0-7 Years, Let’s Write Poems and Let’s Write Short Stories. She has won a Northland short story competition and poetry competition and her poems have been anthologised. In 2012 Anne decided to take on the challenge of writing a junior novel. The MOB and The Robbers, a novel for 9 to 11-year-olds, was published by Ocean Books in March 2013.  Thanks to NZSA, Anne had Janice Marriott as her mentor while writing this book.

Highlights of Anne’s writing career have been: visiting schools as a member of the Book Council’s Writers in Schools programme, travelling to schools in the Far North with Margaret Mahy and Northland writers, viewing children’s reactions to and artists’ illustrations of her work.  Her work has been translated into Maori and interpreted by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra.

Wendy Megget

Wendy Megget writes non-fiction, self-help and humour. She is a regular contributor to Kiwi Gardener Magazine and has also been published in NZ Fishing News. Her first eBook, The Little Bullying Book, is available online and she is now working on her new Weird Wisdom self-help series. In secret she is also developing a comic strip called Bongo’s Backyard. Wendy works as a Licensed Cadastral Surveyor and enjoys reading murder mysteries, gardening and collecting inspirational quotes.

Julie O’Brien

Julie photo smallJulie is a qualified editor and journalist and works as a freelance editor offering editing, proofreading and writing services. She works primarily with non-fiction material from short documents to lengthy publications, including academic work and website copy. As she has also had a career in counselling and psychotherapy, she specialises in texts in these fields and in self-help books. Julie is also drawing on her psychotherapy experience to write a book about the process of personal change and its relationship to wider social change. For more information go to

Rae Roadley

Rae RoadleyRae Roadley lay sprawled on a gravel road after being thrown by a bull – and had an idea. She’d write about her life on a farm situated on a remote and historic harbour peninsula. Her newspaper columns led to Love at the End of the Road, a memoir published by Penguin, which in turn led to an episode of New Zealand’s longest-running TV show, Country Calendar. A qualified journalist with experience in publishing and public relations, she’s also a freelance and creative writer, blogs about farming and rural life and tutors online non-fiction and feature writing at NorthTec. Rae’s work has been recognised in fiction contests and media awards.

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