Amélie Lucas Gary – Speaking tour

Amélie Lucas-Gary has begun her programme of speaking engagements around the country.

Last week saw her in Dunedin at the Alliance française. The rest of us will have the chance to hear her in the following cities over the coming months:

Alliance française Christchurch, Tuesday, 13 March
Alliance française Auckland, Friday and Saturday, 23 and 24 March
Alliance française Wellington, Thursday 19 April
Alliance française Palmerston North, 17–19 May.

Further information is available from the various Alliances.

Wellingtonians will have a second chance to hear at the National Library on the evening of 7 June.
(We’ll be publishing more details closer to the date.)


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Dear Oliver – Peter Wells

New release from Peter Wells, Randell Cottage writer-in-residence 2002

New release from Peter Wells, Randell Cottage writer-in-residence 2002

Peter Wells
Photo by Liz Marsh

Peter Wells, who in 2002 was the Randell Cottage’s first writer in residence, has just released his latest work: Dear Oliver, a family history, prompted by his discovery of a trove of family letters amongst his elderly mother’s effects.The find provided an entrée into writing a story that is uniquely his family’s but also very typical of other families whose ancestors emigrated from Britain during the nineteeenth century.

“The journey of my ancestors from Britain to New Zealand could be said to be the ur-journey of so many Pākehā New Zealanders. We are overfamiliar with its shape – poverty in the homeland, struggle across the seas, the hard impact on landing. Scrabbling around for a way to survive.

Gradually, some success as adaptation takes over, accompanied by a loss of memory about origins as the present obscures a now-distant past. Even the act of looking back – the search for genealogical origins – is a Pākehā cliché. Why do it?”

Dear Oliver cover

Massey University Press $39.99


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Beryl Fletcher – Obituary

Beryl Fletcher

We were saddened this week to hear of the death of Beryl Fletcher, who was the Cottage’s New Zealand resident in 2006. Beryl came to fiction writing later in life and did so with a bang: winning the 1992 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book in the Asia / Pacific region with The Word Burners. She went on to write four more works of fiction and memoir, The House at Karamu.

In 2012, to mark the Cottage’s 10th anniversary as a writers residence, a team of trustees and Friends, led by Jean Anderson, collected and translated short texts from the Cottage’s residents. Writers were asked for a memory, a reflection, an extract from a work written at the Cottage: for something that captured their experience of that period in their career.

Beryl sent us the following. Farewell, Beryl, you will be missed.


Randell Cottage, April 2006. Retrospective fragments from the journal of Beryl Fletcher.

We arrive at the cottage at dusk. My partner Mike has accompanied me on the train from Hamilton. Anne Faulkner, the secretary of the trust, gave us a warm welcome.

The cottage is brilliant, haunted of course, but how could it not be? My ghost is a young girl who is dressed in a pinafore and a large floppy satin bow. She serenades me from the garden with cascades of musical giggles. Alas, she disappeared soon after Mike’s departure.

Wellington has the feel of a foreign city to me. The weather is like a living breathing animal that can change its mood in a second. Behind the cottage is a sharp and brooding mini-mountain covered with dead trees cut down to allow some light to fall on an old house below.

I have a large extended family back in Hamilton. It is strange to be alone down here. I realise once more how difficult it is not to mediate, filter, test everything you think and feel through another person.

I fear that I will learn to love being alone too much.

Milo the cat who lives next door visits me but I have to be careful not to trip over him. I wonder if my hip will survive the daily walk over the botanic gardens to the cable car. Each day is structured. I can only write in the morning. I get up at six, work until lunch time then down to Lambton Quay for shopping.

I love this little cottage. I wonder about the women who have lived here. The bookshelves held some printed booklets about their history. Harriet Randell coached her singing pupils in the sitting room. One night, I swear I heard someone singing ‘Danny Boy’ accompanied by Harriet on the out-of-tune piano.

I stand at the old Shacklock coal range and feel the presence of Sarah Randell and am overwhelmed and daunted by the enormous domestic labour that was the centre of her life.

It was a privilege to live and work in Randell Cottage.

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A French artist and writer arriving for Wellington cultural residencies

A French artist and writer are heading to Wellington this month to develop their work in New Zealand.

As the talented recipients of two international artist residencies, the pair will take their work to new horizons in dialogue with members of Wellington’s creative community.

image of Chloé Quenum

Chloé Quenum

Artist Chloé Quenum will move into the Te Whare Hēra International Artist Residency at Clyde Quay Wharf for six months and writer Amélie Lucas-Gary will occupy the historic Randell Cottage Writers Residence until mid-June 2018.

Quenum told French art publication République des Arts in 2015 “What interests me is seeing how an object can take on a completely different meaning and value according to the context in which it appears. In the same way as a word can mean something else entirely according to the conversation in which it is spoken.”

République des Arts’ Patrick Scemama noted “from her first exhibitions, [Quenum] introduced items of furniture into her work, chairs, benches, folding screens. But she diverted them from their original function. Thus the folding screen, which ordinarily hides and conceals was, in the exhibition at Beaux-Arts de Paris in 2013, composed of panes of transparent glass, providing a view of the other side and above all served to demarcate the space.”

image of Amélie Lucas-Gary

Amélie Lucas-Gary

Amélie Lucas-Gary comes to Wellington less than a year after the publication of her second novel, Vierge.

French magazine Lire describes Vierge as “the story of a young woman who falls pregnant having never been with a man. As her unlikely virgin pregnancy begins, Emmanuelle, 16, decides to leave her hometown, Saint-Denis, to undertake a forced journey on the roads of France…

“Carried by solemn writing and a great expressive power, Emmanuelle’s voyage plunges you into a bizarrely mystical atmosphere, at the crossroads of the carnal and conceptual, the fantastic and the metaphysical…

Te Whare Hēra Wellington International Artist Residency is a non-commercial initiative run by Massey University’s Whiti o Rehua School of Art and Wellington City Council. The French Embassy in New Zealand has partnered with Te Whare Hēra to bring French artists to New Zealand in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. The most recent French artist in residence Soraya Rhofir, produced an exhibition of works entitled Rough Rough shown at The Engine Room in August 2017.

Historic Randell Cottage in Wellington, New Zealand, has been a writers’ residency since 2001. In partnership with the Embassy of France, New Zealand-France Friendship Fund and Creative New Zealand, the Randell Cottage Writers Trust provides a six-month residency each year to a French and NZ writer respectively. The most recent French resident of Randell Cottage, Josef Schovanec, gave a series of lectures around New Zealand in 2017, sharing his experiences as a writer with autism.



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James Norcliffe Selected as 2018 Randell Cottage Writer in Residence

Photo of James Norcliffe

Photo supplied by VUP

Christchurch-based writer James Norcliffe is to be the 2018 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writing Fellow. Norcliffe has published nine collections of poetry, a short story collection and ten novels for young people. As an editor, he has had a long involvement with the literary magazine, takahē and has edited anthologies of poetry and young people’s writing. He’s also served as an assessor for literary competitions and the New Zealand Society of Authors, and has received numerous awards and fellowships.

Norcliffe’s Randell Cottage project is a novel with the working title The Frog Prince, a dual narrative with one strand set in early 19th century Westphalia, the other a contemporary narrative set variously in New Zealand and Europe.   

Selection panel convener Stephen Stratford says “James Norcliffe is a much-admired poet, YA author and short-story writer. For his first adult novel, he plans a high-concept retelling of the Frog Prince fairytale we all know from the Brothers Grimm version, this time in two timelines and settings. This is the value of a residential fellowship like the Randell Cottage, to enable an author to have the luxury of ‘sailing in a new direction’.

“We look forward to welcoming James to the cottage,” Stratford said.

Norcliffe says he is delighted to be the 2018 resident and is looking forward to his six months in the capital. “I’m very grateful for the chance to work on my project especially in the stimulating environment of Wellington. It’s a city I love not only for its beauty but for its energy, its fizziness. I do hope that this energy informs my novel. The Randell Cottage sounds a perfect place to work on it.”

The Randell Cottage Writers Trust was established in 2002.  The restored
B-category historic building, gifted to the Trust by the Price family, hosts two writers a year; one from New Zealand and the other from France.  It is currently home to Stephen Daisley

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An Evening with Stephen Daisley

Stephen Daisley imageJoin us at the National Library on 28 November, for an evening of conversation with Randell Cottage writer in residence, Stephen Daisley and Wellington writers, Catherine Robertson and Tracy Farr.

Stephen Daisley is a New Zealand born writer, living and working in Perth. He hit New Zealand headlines in 2016, when his second novel, Coming Rain, took out the inaugural Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the New Zealand Book Awards. Although, at that point, something of an unknown quantity in his homeland, Stephen had won or been short- and long-listed for major Australian literary awards, including the Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Fiction for his first novel, Traitor, the 2016 Miles Franklin Award and the 2011 Commonwealth Writers prize for best first book.
Stephen’s work addresses themes of masculinity and love, frequently in an historical context. He’s used his time at the Randell Cottage to work on two projects: A Better Place Than This is a picaresque tale of return home – from the mines of Australia to a New Zealand farm, and a meditation on the various forms love assumes in our lives, while The Clearances is an historical novel set in 18th century Scotland, after the Battle of Culloden.

This is a joint event from the Friends of the Randell Cottage, and the National Library of New Zealand.

Time: The venue opens at 5:30pm and the discussion will run from 6:00-7:30pm
Date: 28 November 2017
Venue: Programme Rooms Ground Floor, National Library, Molesworth Street
RSVP: by email to with the words Stephen Daisley in the subject line. (Seating is limited to 80.)

Admission is free but koha in support of the Randell Cottage would be appreciated.


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Renée – Life story told in patches

Hear one of the Randell Cottage previous residents, Renée, talking with Kim Hill on Saturday 18 November:

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Notice of AGM for Friends of the Randell Cottage Writers Trust


Notice of Annual General Meeting 

You are invited to the Annual General Meeting of Friends of the Randell Cottage Writers’ Trust to be held on:

Wednesday, 25 October 2017, 6.00 pm,
140 Upland Road,
Kelburn, Wellington.

Please RSVP to or call Robyn on 4758 155 evenings by 19 October. 


1. Welcome

2. Apologies

3. Quorum: 10 people

4. Receive and approve the Minutes of the June 27, 2016, Annual General Meeting of Friends of the Randell Cottage Writers’ Trust:

5. Matters arising from the Minutes:

6. Receive and consider the Annual Report from the FRC Committee Chair:

7. Receive and consider the Annual Financial Statements from the Treasurer:

8. Receive and consider the following recommendation from the Committee of the annual subscriptions for the year (2018/19): that subscriptions for 2018/19 remain at $15.00 for seniors/students, $30.00 for individuals and families and $60.00 for businesses as set at the 2016 AGM.

9. The election of the Officers of the Society:

President: The Chair of the FRC Committee, Sian Robyns, has expressed her willingness to be nominated as President again.

Treasurer: Tracey Schuyt has expressed her willingness to be nominated as Treasurer. 

Secretary: Robyn Skrzynska has expressed her willingness to be nominated as Secretary again.

10. The election of the three Ordinary Members of the Executive Committee:

In accordance with the Rules:

Tim Gruar and Linda Burgess have expressed willingness to be nominated as members of the Committee.

There is room for the nomination of at least one ordinary member to the committee. 

Note: Any other nominations for President, Vice-President, Treasurer and Committee, with details of seconders (if any) and evidence of the willingness of the nominee to serve should be emailed to the Secretary at in advance of the meeting.

11. Any other business

The business part of the meeting will be followed by a speaker. Details to come.

Refreshments will be served. 

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Applications for 2018 Residency now open

Applications are now open for the 2018 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writers Fellowship. The deadline for applications is Friday, 3 November 2017.

More information about the residency can be found here.

Applications for the 2018 fellowship will be accepted from 1 September 2017 to 3 November 2017.


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RCWT Annual Report 2016-2017

The Randell Cottage Writers Trust 2016-2017 Annual Report is now available.

The report covers the Trust’s income and expenditure as well as details of its public events and engagement with other arts organisations.

You can download it here.




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