Northland doctor Renee Liang launches new book ‘When We Remember To Breathe’

When We Remember To Breathe has been published by Michele Powles and Dr Renee Liang, who works much of the year at Whangarei Hospital as a paediatrician. 

Two courageous Kiwi women, one an author and the other a paediatrician, lay bare the raw joy, beauty, discomfort and humour of modern motherhood. The result is uplifting and fearless.

Available: at Magpie Pulp. ISBN: 978-047-345339-8.  RRP: $25

Author Bio: Renee Liang is playwright, paediatrician, fiction writer. Michele Powles is a dancer, producer and writer. Michele Powles website here.

You’re invited to explore the excerpts, videos and author bios here, read the reviews, and discover this beautiful book.

Everything you need to know about the book is here.


Renee Liang, a second-generation Chinese Kiwi, is a poet, playwright, paediatrician, medical researcher and fiction writer. She has collaborated on visual arts works, film, opera and music, produced and directed theatre works, worked as a dramaturge, taught creative writing and organized community-based arts initiatives. She organises community arts events such as NewKiwi Women Write, a writing workshop series for migrant women. She contributes to The Big Idea, which links New Zealand’s arts community. Renee has written, produced and toured seven plays. In 2018, she was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the arts. Image of Renee Liang by Jeff McEwan


North & South Short Short Story Competition 2019 – runner up ‘Magic Mirror’ by Michael Botur

North & South Short Short Story Competition 2019 – runner up ‘Magic Mirror’ by Michael Botur



Magic Mirror

Michael Botur


It begins when you’re having a couple lunchtime drinks on the toilet, closed door of course, private delight, gulping stinging nips of depressant to weight your floating feet. Dilute the anxiety. Wash off the boss-bully. The panel of magic mirrors shows the confident you, the you with strong legs and a friend.

Coming out of the stall you bump into Gerard Chan from marketing and he’s clutching some dark drink in a Pump bottle and at first you’re both going to leave the bathroom without a word but you pause at the door. Being ashamed is pointless. Gerard Chan meets you for more drinks at 4.

It’s not just the kinship or the wince, the stinging liquid lip. It’s the magic mirror. In the glass dimension there’s a happy you.

Paul Govind, too, is in with a grin. Wobbling back to your desk to send off emails gets you noticed, there are murmurs, noses peering over the cubicle, but one drink with you in front of the magic mirror, people come around. It’s a confidence boost. You help your team carry out business with boldness. You tell the cleaning lady you love her.

Bottles on the hand dryers. Ice in the handbasins. Little umbrellas, straws, chips of ice melting on the tiles. The stock price soars and lurches. The boss occupies the disabled loo, puts her feet up on the rail on the door, leans back, tells you she’s always admired you. Your resourcefulness. How you find creative ways out of problems.

Someone bangs on the bathroom door.

You grip the mirror, blink, splash water on your face, swig and swallow, stash the bottle in the curl of pipes beneath the basin.

Listerine and Lynx. Fix your tie. Tiptoe back to work. Steady legs.  





Literary news for Northerners – April 2019

  1. DID YOU KNOW WE HAVE A TONNE OF WRITERS GROUPS GOING ON??!!>Kaipwriters -Dargaville writing group that has been in action for around two years. Currently has 8-10 members. A lot of emphasis on poetry and children’s writing, but flash fiction and non-fiction are also shared. Contact Maureen Sudlow

    >Poets at ONEONESIX 116aBank St, Whangarei, third Thursday of the month from 5pm for poetry readings, comment, feedback and critique, all welcome contact

    >Russell Writer’s Workshop– Meets 1st Sunday each month, 2 pm at Russell Library, Contact: Peter, Ph: 09 403-8321.

    >Pen-Ultimate -Meets alternate Fridays, 10:00 am to 12:30. Contact: Derin Attwood at

  2. Book launch. Russell Museum is proud to launch Peter Ireland’s new book. The Weight Of The Captain’s Wrist, Peter Ireland History Paintings. Mr Ireland has moved onto the East Cape now but you can still get the book, containing 70 paintings, from the Russell Museum Shop. See
  3. Whangarei Libraries Flash Fiction Club: a group meets regularly, led by highly experienced flash editor/judge Martin Porter. Click through to Whangarei Libraries Flash Club information.   
  4. Poetry Group at the Whangarei Central Library – April 16
  5. National Flash Fiction Day Competition. Please enter – we have so much talent up north, we want to see more Tai Tokerauvians placed highly as last year. On National Flash Fiction Day, which is June 22 2019, there will be a workshop and reading at King’s Theatre in Kawakawa. Author Michael Botur will deliver the workshop, which will be about finding the message in a flash story
  6. Fast Fibres 6- Asixth collection of poetry is being put together to display the talents of Northland poets – submit your entry today. It will be launched in print and online on National Poetry Day, August 23, 2019. The Fast Fibres Poetry Collective invites poets with a strong connection to Northland to submit 3 poems, each preferably no longer than 20 lines, plus a two-line biographical statement. Deadline: June 14 Email:
  7. Homegrown Northland hip hop media company Low Budget Brotherhood is about to launch an ensemble music video showcasing musical wordsmiths spitting their finest rhymes. See
  8. Wild Side Publishing’s biggest update is they are publishing When the Crowd Stops Roaring by former All Black Neven MacEwan. Based in little old Ruawai, WSP are Northland’s biggest publisher of inspirational books and actively seeking submissions of inspirational memoirs and non-fiction. Check out Wild Side’s website.  
  9. Northland’s main literary festival, NorthWrite, is being put together. Stay tuned at for updates. 

10. NZSA local branch Northland Noteworthies, with thanks to Wendy Meggett for compiling this at

  • Justine Payen attended the San Francisco Writers Conference and won a picture book critique with Nikki Garcia, a New York editor for Little Brown.
  • Jac Jenkins had poems accepted by Geometry (“One Red Shoe Fallen”) and Room Magazine (“Emilie du Chatelet”), while “Hauraki” will be included in Nga Kupu Waikato
  • Lesley Marshall’s PEN article in NZ Author tells the story of journalist Nedim Turfent imprisoned in Turkey on trumped up charges.
  • Karen Phillips’ short story The Price has been accepted for an anthology with Cloud Ink Press.
  • Peter Pedrotti launched Black Sands and Toitoi at Mangawhai. 

State of the Pakeha Nation – ebook of essays by Whangarei authors

Check out this fascinating e-book of essays by Whangarei authors, State of the Pakeha Nation: Collected Waitangi Day Speeches and Essays 2006-2015

Its authors are members of Network Waitangi Whangarei, a group of church-affiliated treaty researchers with a deep interest in listening to Maori perspectives on the place of Pakeha in New Zealand.  

Read online or download the collection:


On Thursday 21 March 2019, the cringe-inducingly-named Race Relations Day* will be celebrated in Whangarei with a free public event featuring invited speakers, at Forum North’s Cafler Room at 7pm (*There is no scientific basis for race. There is only one ‘race’ of people, and all come from Africa. A more useful term is ethnicity.)

Speakers include Dr Ray Nairn who set up Kupu Taea, a group that has monitored news media for cultural bias for several years. He wrote the most recent Joan Cook Memorial Essay on the State of the Pākehā Nation for Network Waitangi Whangārei.




Write Club for Northland – Community Education Whangarei – Enrol Today – Registrations Closing

Registrations for the seven week fiction writing workshop with Community Education Whangarei are about to close. 

This course just needs another five people to run  – it’s half full. 

It’s ideal for people who are beginner to intermediate level writers. Whatsmore, you meet and bond with a supportive group so you feel less alone.

Please urgently register with Shona Hill at CEW at Kamo High School today or over the weekend if you’d like to jump in the class. $85. 



Wed 6-8pm, starts 27 Feb, 7 weeks $85
Behind every film, book, TV show, great
speech, news report and website lies fictional
storytelling, in which words are pulled from the
ordinary and turned into something extraordinary. Our tutor, Michael Botur, is a much published author of novels, short stories, poetry
and journalism. Every week you will be encouraged to produce a fresh piece of creative
writing and by the end of the course you can
publish with your fellow students – a book? A
website? We’ll discuss. Join this class and let
Michael introduce you to the world of fiction.
Course ID: A430
Tutor: Michael Botur


Shona Hill

ACE Co-ordinator | Community Education Whangarei 

 PO Box 4137, Kamo, 0141 |Wilkinson Ave, Kamo, Whangarei
P: 09 435 0889 |  W: | E:



Attn: Northland authors – writing competitions and calls for submission

Here are six good writing competitions and calls for submission all Northlanders should strive to succeed in.

Let’s get lots of Tai Tokerau talent in the mix. Why not share the draft of your work with a supportive Northland writer then smash out the competition.


Check out ‘Streccano’ by Bill Leonard of Whangarei


Bio supplied by the author…

“Bill Leonard was born in a log cabin in the wilds of Miami Beach, the son of a flying-saucer repairman and an attaché to the government of Bulimia. Disenchanted with the Evil Empire from a young, impressionable age, he set his sights on New Zealand as the result of David Lange’s stand against the Americans. In attempts at Permanent Residence , he got in on the 2nd try whilst the Immigration officer had gone to have a pee.
Literary history, such as it is:
Stickno Bill’s Guide to Complete Fulfilment (2008) paperback, staple-bound. Bill sold 35 copies of the humour book in 23 hours, door-to-door in Auckland, and a few at markets and expositions. Diamonds & Rats (2013) e-novel, no staples. Distributed through meBooks and Amazon. The author is still in the red. Diamonds & Rats (2018) paperback, professionally bound. Baseball, sex, love, humour, and things being blown up.
Streccano (2018) paperback, professionally bound. Not particularly funny, but there are a few pleasant lines amidst the worldwide (52% Aotearoa-based) mayhem.
The author brushes after every meal.”


Sample from Streccano

26th June 11:00 p.m. N.Z.S.T.
Auckland, New Zealand
Radio New Zealand News (transcript, excerpt)
Deloitte: “Radio New Zealand News, I’m Samuel Deloitte. Two men are dead in Whangarei after an incident involving a blue alien. Simon Ngerope has that story.”
Ngerope: “Police were called to a block of shops in Maunu Road near State Highway 1 at
about 9:30 this evening where they found 2 men dead, 1 of them allegedly the victim of a blue alien. According to witnesses, 23-year-old Martin Skye — who was wearing a T-shirt depicting a blue alien and the words “Foe……..or Friend” was stopped by 32-year-old Dougal Fitzroy of Hupara and asked if Skye was an animal rights supporter. He was then knocked to the ground by Fitzroy and kicked. Two local residents tried to intervene but Fitzroy threatened them with a tyre iron. Fitzroy, who was an employee at the freezing works in Moerewa near Kawakawa until the invasion, then struck Skye with the tyre iron and continued to kick him. He then fled in his truck eastward along Maunu Road but was stopped by an alien which witnesses say flipped the vehicle upside down, pulled Fitzroy out of the window and kicked him to death. An unidentified woman is in Whangarei Hospital after suffering a stroke. She was witness to the beating of Skye by Fitzroy. Police have closed off Maunu Road from Porowini Avenue to Highway 1 and have given no indication when those roads — when that road — will re-open.”
Deloitte: “It is 1 of the 1st incidences in the world of the death of a human being avenged by an alien.”

Northland creative writing news updates – January 2019

Bits of Northland creative writing news from our peninsula:



*** New publishing cooperative – who would like to be part? ***

NZ Society of Authors members have been discussing forming a publishing cooperative and could use specialists in manuscript assessment, promotion, covers, printing, distribution and more. Let’s get a conversation going. Post your contribution at



Want writing inspiration? These NorthTec grads have written novels

NorthTec writing graduates complete novels. 

Check out the media release from NorthTec about two Level 7 writing diploma graduates who have written novels and are publishing this summer.

Writing graduates embrace self-publishing

21 December 2018

NorthTec applied writing graduates are taking control of their works and joining the increasing number of authors who self-publish.

Full-time writer Kathy Servian completed the Diploma in Advanced Applied Writing (Level 7) in 2017. She published her first novel while studying, and has gone on to publish three further works, with another in the pipeline.

Her books are available as paperbacks or can be downloaded to electronic devices like Kindles. Kathy says while self-publishing is hard work and requires effort and motivation, it gives her control over her own works.

Her first novel, Peak Hill, is a contemporary romance set in Northland, and was a finalist in the Romance Writers of New Zealand’s Pacific Hearts Award. In late 2016, Kathy took the plunge and self-published the novel.

She followed this in 2017 with a romantic suspense novel, Throwing Light, which shifts between 1990 and the present. As part of her Level 7 studies which required her to write a novel under the supervision of a tutor and an established author, Kathy then produced a historical work, The Moral Compass. Set in New Zealand and England in the 1850s, it became the first of a trilogy and was followed by A Pivotal Right, and Kathy is currently working on the third and final volume, Slaves in Petticoats.

Kathy, who now lives in Auckland, said the process of self-publishing involves work and financial investment on the part of the author, including organising beta readers for peer reviewing, employing professional editors and proof readers, and having the work formatted for both paperbacks and eBooks.

The author also organises the book cover – which has led the versatile and artistic Kathy into another income stream. After struggling to find authentic images for her historical novels, she decided to combine her talent for fashion design and dressmaking with her love of photography, creating a series of photos featuring characters in period costume, which she now sells online.

She said: “I found making the costume, finding the model and doing the photoshoot helped me visualise the character. It was a really interesting process.”

Once a manuscript is completed, Kathy uploads both the cover and the book’s contents to a specialist website. Within 24 hours, the published work can be purchased worldwide as a ‘print on demand’ paperback, or an eBook, via the Amazon and Book Depository websites.

Meanwhile, fellow graduate Trish Fenton, from Maunu, Whangarei, is preparing to self-publish her first novel, supported by a range of local services. Beyond the Rimu Grove is a New Zealand novel about a young teacher starting out on her career in a remote, rural community. Trish says it’s not an autobiography but does draw on her own experiences.

The retired teacher’s first novel is also the product of her NorthTec studies – she too graduated with her Diploma in Advanced Applied Writing last year, and received the New Zealand Society of Authors Northland Award for Excellence. Encouraged by her assessor, Trish began approaching trade publishers but realised that with so few new writers being published in the traditional way, self-publishing was a better option.

She employed NorthTec tutor, Lesley Marshall as her editor – who she says gave her a “masterclass in editing” – while her daughter, a graphic designer, has created the book cover and will complete the layout, in consultation with the printer. Having met Hazel Oliver from Whangarei company Jeff Oliver Print at a NorthTec hui for applied writing students, Trish is now preparing for her first print run of 400 paperbacks.

She will work with a local specialist, Michael Botur, to launch her novel and connect with distributors. He will also assist with setting up a website and providing an online version of the novel.

Trish says she is enjoying the publication process and is pleased with the interest in her first novel through the various groups she is involved with.

She and Kathy became friends while studying NorthTec’s online writing programme, and have kept in touch since graduating.