Books and Writers


Four more really interesting autobiographical books by women authors in Aotearoa have been published this year:


Alison Jones, a Professor in Te Puna Wānanga, the School of Maori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Auckland, and early in her academic journey she did important research at AGGS , which helped to change the school in its teaching practices, while Charmaine was principal there.  Alison has written this pākehā life:  an unsettled memoir, a fascinating account of her learning journey in te āo Maori over many years- and ongoing…

Golriz Ghahraman, now entering her second term as a Green MP, has had an extraordinary life, beginning in Iran, and was the first refugee to be elected to a parliament in her new home country.  Know Your Place is the story of this journey with her family, including her early life in Iran, the dramatic escape to Aotearoa, her varied experiences of schooling here and her very successful legal studies here and overseas, and work as a human rights lawyer, as well as her current involvement in politics.

Robin Allison, founder of Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood, has produced an extraordinary book, on which she has been working for more than 20 years: Co-housing for Life: a practical and personal story of Earthsong Eco-Neighbourhood.

Robin is not only an architect, but also a visionary who pioneered the concept of co-housing neighbourhoods in Aotearoa and was deeply involved in the design and building of the first example, at Ranui in West Auckland.  She began that journey in 1992 with a group of people interested in building a co-housing village. And, as many of you will know, we spent from late 2013 to the end of 2017  living in a beautiful home at Earthsong after we left our farm, earthtalk@awhitu.

Robin is very open in her book about the emotional journey and personal and business stresses in this work, as well as documenting the philosophy, decision-making and practical steps which led to the successful completion of Aotearoa’s first urban co-housing village.  It’s a beautifully written and illustrated book, and useful for anyone contemplating building, or moving to, a similar co-housing project.

Finally, Charmaine wants to recommend Tree of Strangers, by Barbara Sumner a book of special interest to her, because it is about adoption and the difficulties it can create  because of the trauma inherent in the separation of babies from their birth mothers. 

We don’t know the author personally, but the book is a gripping story of the difficulties a young woman born in 1960 faced as an adopted child with no access to information about her birth family.  She writes powerfully about the emotional challenges she faced, as well as the legal obstacles when she decided to try and learn more.  Her honesty is inspiring, her writing powerful, and her successful life in later years a tribute to her courage and perseverance, as well as the support of special friends.

All these books are available from the Women’s Bookshop in Ponsonby Road, Auckland- and no doubt in other good bookshops in Aotearoa as well.

If you have a special interest in Aotearoa women writers, fiction and non-fiction, don’t forget to book your tickets for

the Women’s Bookshop Ladies’ Literatea,

on Sunday 1 November

at Epsom Girls’ Grammar School

Speakers will include Golriz Ghahraman and Lil O’Brien and a number of other fine writers, and there will  of course, be a splendid afternoon tea too.

For further information and bookings go to: 

The Women’s Bookshop, Ponsonby Road, Auckland.


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