Newsletter from the Friends


Sir Vincent O’Sullivan unveils the Randell Cottage Blue Plaque

Open Day has come and gone.

On the morning of Sunday 30 October, the Trust’s new Patron, Sir Vincent O’Sullivan, unveiled the new ‘blue plaque’ for the Cottage.

This is a substantial metal plaque marking the heritage status of the Cottage which is situated in the front garden visible from the footpath.

Beverly Randell Price with the Blue Plaque – Photo Tim Gruar

Beverley Randell Price cut the birthday cake to mark the Trust’s 20th Anniversary and Eric Soulier from the Embassy of France gave a short speech.

Christine Hurley, Trust Chair, was MC and organiser of the occasion.

Then in the afternoon as part of Wellington Heritage Week, the Friends welcomed over 100 visitors to the Cottage.

Beverly Randell Price, Sir Vincent O’Sullivan and Dame Fiona Kidman – Photo Tim Gruar

They heard readings from 2021 CNZ RCWT Writing Fellow, Lynn Davidson (who read from her Randell project Looking for Vida*), followed by Paekakariki poet and film maker, Rachel O’Neill (since confirmed as our 2023 New Zealand writing fellow), who read from her 2021 poetry collection Requiem for a Fruit.

Finally, Tim Corballis, 2003 fellow, read from his novel Our Future is in the Air.

Following that, we were treated to another birthday cake cut by Dame Fiona Kidman followed by tea and coffee.

We held several successful raffles. Thanks to Dame Fiona Kidman’s publisher, Penguin Random House, and Paddy Richardson’s publisher, Quentin Wilson, for book prizes.

*Now called: Do you still have time for chaos?

Author, and former Randell Writer, Lynn Davidson – Photo Tim Gruar


The Trust’s publication marking 20 years of Randell Cottage writers, Room to Write, is now available.

The book was edited by Linda Burgess and Maggie Rainey-Smith, with translation by Jean Anderson and Myrelle Pawliez.

Since 2002, 40 writers from France and Aotearoa New Zealand have made Randell Cottage their home while they wrote. To celebrate, the Trust with the support of the Embassy of France and Wellington NZ has commissioned the book asking the writers for contributions that spring from the idea of ‘looking back’.

All the work is presented in English and French, with introductory essays by Dame Fiona Kidman and Beverley Randell Price.

Copies are available from all good bookstores and online providers including Good Books, Aotearoa Books, and Unity Books.

Randell Cottage Writers with HE Laurence Beau, French Ambassador to New Zealand,
at the French Embassy Residence, December 2022


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The much-delayed 2021 French writer, Caroline Laurent, is in the Cottage now. She will be succeeded by the 2023 French writer, Sedef Ecer.

The 2023 New Zealand writer is Rachel O’Neill, who will be in the cottage in the middle of the year.

Then after the Kiwi writer has vacated, Caroline Laurent will return later in the year for a longer visit.

We plan to provide opportunities to hear from all three writers next year – so watch this space.

About Caroline Laurent
Born in 1988 and of French-Mauritian origins, Caroline grew up between French Polynesia, Bordeaux, Italy and Paris, where she currently resides. She still travels regularly to Mauritius to visit her maternal family.

Caroline is a graduate of modern French literature and has been an editor for the past 12 years (JC Lattès, Les Escales, Stock). Her areas of interest include contemporary literature and non-fiction.

Following the success of Et soudain, la liberté, co-written with Evelyne Pisier (80,000 copies sold, and awarded Prix Marguerite Duras and Grand Prix des Lycéennes ELLE 2018), in 2020 she released her second novel, Rivages de la colère (Prix Maison de la Presse 2020) in which she pursues her exploration of the colonial world and the lives of prominent women who have shaped history.

Her feminist convictions and commitment to fighting for what she believes in, led her to establish an opinion column against sexual violence in the publishing industry, bringing together 50 literary figures. French Embassy Website

About Sedef Ecer

Sedef was born in Istanbul and grew up in the world of moviemaking, theatre and television. As a writer and actress, she has been received or been for a number of prestigious awards including from French National Center of Theater, French National Center of Cinema, Beaumarchais Award, French Society of Multimedia Writers, and the Best Television Comedy La Rochelle Festival, amongst many others. She is also one of the founders of Parlement des Écrivaines Francophones.

She writes in many different genres and in two languages – opinion pieces for press, novels, and screenplays. She has translated Montaigne, Charlotte Delbo or Saint-Exupery’s works into Turkish.

But her major work is in theatre, with plays performed by numerous theatre companies across the globe. As an actress, she has featured in films and on stage since the age of three and has worked recently under the directions of Amos Gitaï (with Jeanne Moreau), Lorenzo Gabriel, Thomas Bellorini, etc.

Read much more about her on her website.

About Rachel O’Neill

Rachel O’Neill is a writer, filmmaker and artist based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Kāpiti Coast. Their debut book One Human in Height (Hue & Cry Press, 2013) was followed by Requiem for a Fruit (We Are Babies Press, 2021). ‘

She has participated in the 2017 Aotearoa Short Film Lab, received a SEED Grant for feature film development and ran an Emerging Writers Residency at the Michael King Writers Centre.

Some of her recent writing appeared s in Sweet Mammalian, Stasis Journal, Ōrongohau | Best New Zealand Poems 2019 and Out Here: An Anthology of Takatāpui and LGBTQIA+ Writers from Aotearoa.

Caroline Laurent and Rachel O’Neill – Photos Tim Gruar
Sedef Ecer. Portrait by Brigitte Baudesson


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