Jenny Argante

Born in an elephant stable in India, Jenny has been army brat, service wife and lifelong rolling stone. Now permanently settled in New Zealand, she wants, in her Third Age, to make it big as a writer. She took the Whitireia course to 'learn to write Kiwi' – learning other things, too – how to give and get feedback, and that she has a dark side, revealed mainly in the free-writing exercises. Since then, Jenny has been well published – sometimes commercially, sometimes in Úlite literary magazines no one’s heard of – and writes a weekly column for the Bay of Plenty Times.


Colleen-Dawn Basson

Colleen-Dawn Basson was born in South Africa, where she worked in the wildlife field for eleven years before moving to New Zealand in 2001. She obtained the Diploma in Creative Writing in 2004 and completed the Advanced Diploma in Creative Writing in 2005. Colleen-Dawn is currently working on a young adult novel and a collection of poetry. She wrote several short stories and ‘a wad of poetry’ whilst growing up and working in South Africa, none of which she thought was good enough to publish. ‘I hope the two years I've spent writing full time for the Whitireia diplomas is going to change all that.’ She laughs.


Lyn Blakeley

Lyn Blakeley was born in Ashburton and spent her formative years in the South Island but now happily resides in the Wellington region. A former secondary teacher and avid reader, she decided to test her creative skills through Whitireia's writing programme. Poetry has always appealed, with its power of condensed thought and its imagery. She hopes to pursue this writing strand.


Christine Cloughley
Christine Cloughley is a journalist who has worked for too many years as a newspaper reporter and sub-editor, and as a freelance writer for magazines and newsletters. She is currently prose editor of the Bay of Plenty’s new literary magazine Bravado. She has always had a passion for fiction and, like most journalists, has hankered to try her hand at creative writing. She decided to join Whitireia’s writing course last year to force herself into taking that first step. In doing so, she has rekindled her love affair with short stories and intends writing many more in the years to come. Then, who knows, maybe she’ll have a go at that novel …


Helen Crombet-Beolens

Helen Crombet-Beolens was born in Kent, England and moved to NZ when she was 8 years old. She has had an interest in writing since she was a child, but did not actively pursue it until her daughter was born in 2004. She then enrolled for in the Whitireia Creative Writing Course and she learnt a great deal about writing, and found the courses very encouraging. She believes that her genre falls somewhere between magical realist and inspirational fiction, though she is continuing to work on her style and voice.


Nicola Easthope
Nicola Easthope teaches, writes an lives on the Kapiti Coast. Stuck in a poetic rut for 20 years, she decided to do the Whitireia course in the hope it would smash through old confidence blocks and result in a manuscript of poetry. With support from Renee, her mentor, and fabulous course-mates, Leaving my arms free to fly around you was born, without need of drugs or forceps. It is still awaiting publication. In the meantime, Nicola is working on her second collection, with guidance through the NZSA/Creative NZ mentorship programme. Since her association with Whitireia, Nicola has had poetry published in Takahe, The Great American Poetry Show, The Guardian, The Red Wheelbarrow, staples, Disarmament Issues, NZ Poetry Society's 2005 Anthology, and won 2nd prize for "Free Range Men" in the Bravado International Poetry Competition last year.

Holly Edgecombe

Holly Edgecombe was born in Tauranga and spent the first few years of her life there. She was educated in Christchurch and Kaiapoi and for a short time attended Waihi College. During most of her primary and secondary education, she had the benefit of being dual-enrolled with the wonderful Correspondence School. Holly enjoys writing and using the computer – her main form of communication. In 2004 she enrolled in the Whitireia Diploma in Creative Writing. She has had several of her poems published, and she intends to carry on improving her writing.


Helen Heath
Helen Heath was born in the Hutt Valley to the sound of dirt bikes on firebreaks. She now lives on the Kapiti Coast. Helen has worked in the book industry for the last fifteen years, and she is now the administrator for the New Zealand Poetry Society and founder of Juicy Press. Whitireia’s online course enabled Helen to workshop her writing while at home with her two children. In May 2005, she collaborated with Hinemoana Baker and two painters to produce an exhibition of paintings and poetry – Kissed – at Pataka. A book from the exhibition will be published by Wai-te-ata Press in 2006. View: Kissed website


Natasha Jennings
Although currently residing in Hawke's Bay, Natasha had previously spent her entire life in Porirua. She is a registered nurse and a trained primary school teacher. Through the difficult teen years she wrote numerous journals and poetry, but it wasn't until her thirties that she felt a desire to 'write' - to learn about writing. She would love to publish a book of short stories, in a voice and on topics not commonly explored or acknowledged as talented writing.


Marion Jones

Marion Jones lives in Brighton, Dunedin and writes poetry.


Melissa Kinealy
Melissa grew up in Waikanae on the Kapiti Coast. She attended Victoria University where she gained an Honors Degree in English Literature and Theatre before heading to England, where she worked for two years. Her experience in drama and acting led her to become interested in creative writing and to apply for the diploma program at Whitireia. Melissa currently lives on the South Coast of Wellington where she is working on some short stories for children and she hopes to write for the stage and screen in the future.


Tracie McBride
Tracie McBride was born in Tokoroa, spent her childhood in Rotorua and moved to the Bay of Islands in her teens. Now she lives on the Kapiti Coast with her husband and three children (two of whom were born while completing the Diploma in Creative Writing). When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would reply, "A writer." Then real life distracted her. She’s since discovered that real life and writing aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Her writing aims are base and simple – to get paid for what she puts on paper.


Mary McGrath
Born in Otorohanga, Mary McGrath spent her school years in Dannevirke. After two years of tertiary education she moved to Sydney for six years. Her husband’s career required a shift every few years and raising three children in small country towns and cities in New Zealand enriched her life. Her adult children are based overseas and she travels regularly to visit them. She has written poetry, travel diaries and short stories, but as she wanted to brush up her skills she attended the writing course at Whitireia. She is working on her first novel, which she hopes, one day, to publish.


Catherine Martin
Catherine grew up in New Plymouth, but has spent most of her life in Wellington, where currently she works for Trinity Guildhall as their NZ National Consultant. She studied music at Victoria University and abroad, worked as a pianist for many years, and continues to teach the piano.


Frances Meroiti
Frances Meroiti grew up in Hamilton, and was educated at Hamilton West Primary School and Hamilton Technical College. She has four adult children and seven grandchildren, and currently lives in Rotorua.  


Ralph Proops
Ralph Proops is an ex-student of Whitireia. He currently works at the National Library and writes in his spare time. He has been published in JAAM and the New Zealand Poetry Society anthology for 2004.


Francie Shagin
Francie Shagin was born in 1945 in Wisconsin in the United States and again in 1982 when she moved to New Zealand. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters degree. She has been an English teacher, an owner of retail shops, a corporate communications officer, a cooking instructor, co-director of An Epicurean Affair (a gourmet tourism attraction in Marlborough) and was a regular panellist on Television New Zealand’s Beauty and the Beast in the 1980s. She enrolled in the writing course at Whitireia after much cajoling from her dear friend Joy Cowley. In theory, she would love to write more.


tracy sullivan
tracy sullivan grew up in small town Canterbury, studied at Canterbury University and lives for the moment in the Netherlands. At best she is a reader, writer, teacher and mother though not necessarily in that order. The Whitireia writing programme allowed her to justify her writing for three semesters and this is the first time it has been published to the wider world.


Geneieve Tang
Born in Singapore, Geneieve is the youngest in a family of ten. A sickly childhood kept her in bed most of the time. Chinese mystery, romantic and martial arts novels became good companions. In primary school, she skipped snack time and play-time to gulp down Enid Blyton, Carolyn Keene and Roald Dahl books. In high school in Canada, she explored creative writing with an inspiring Irish teacher. Returning home, she ventured into journalism with the local newspaper and also learnt about writing corporate literature as a public affairs executive. In 2000, in a chance meeting with children’s writer Joy Cowley, Geneieve plucked up the courage to ask Joy if she would teach her how to write for children. Four years later, under Joy’s guidance, Geneieve had eight early reader books published by Pearson Education South Asia. 


Anne Tucker
Anne Tucker works as a part-time tutor in the Diploma in Publishing at Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Wellington. She completed the poetry module of the Diploma in Creative Writing in 2004, and at the beginning of 2005 she completed the poetry stream of the Iowa Workshop at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington. She is currently on the New Zealand Society of Authors 2005 mentor programme where she is completing a sequence of poems about a little girl called Eloise. She has previously had poems published in Poetry New Zealand, New Zealand Listener and Spin.


Rae Vickers
Rae Vickers was born in Hamilton and was educated in Auckland, Wellington and Britain. Rae finds word puzzles and reading a daily necessity, always having half a dozen books on the go. Between career and family commitments, she has scribbled poems and short stories intermittently all her life, but she lacked the nerve to submit anything for publishing, storing her writing in that ‘bottom drawer’. Deciding she needed a retirement hobby, she determined to study the craft of writing before collecting rejection slips. She loves the freedom of studying online, at her own pace, in the middle of the night if that’s when the muse strikes.


Pete Watkins
Pete Watkins was born in Birmingham, England, in 1955, and he came to New Zealand in 1997. A career in advertising, although mainly in management, brought him into contact with a wide array of creative people – from writers to film directors and from actors to musicians. It taught him a lot of lessons about "storytelling". Fiction writing has always been a skill he admired. Being capable of writing well for non-fiction purposes he decided two things: first, that he should at least experience the process of creating a work of fiction and second, find out if he could do it well.


Rebecca Wilson
Rebecca Wilson has had a varied career from chalet girl in the Swiss Alps, to chef on the Welsh border, media advisor to the New Zealand Ministry of Health and documentary developer for Natural History New Zealand in Dunedin. But she has always had an interest in the written word. She had a book published in 1999 – A Passion for Life: Young New Zealanders Doing Business – which combined her love of writing with her keen interest in New Zealand entrepreneurs. Trained as a journalist, she found the world of media to be a dark place. Creative writing was something she could do with complete freedom, without the restraints of management. She now heads the Dunedin Fashion Incubator but continues to potter away with writing, with all the classic frustrations of trying to refine the art.

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