Ten Years Today

Ten years ago today, at 12.51 pm, a massive earthquake struck the Canterbury region of New Zealand. It was centred only 6.7 kilometres from the centre of the city of Christchurch, which suffered severe damage. 185 people died. Countless more were left homeless, terrified, psychologically scarred. They were now the reluctant custodians of a ruined city. […]

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The Memory of Place

For the last 21 years I have holidayed at the same beach on the Coromandel (a peninsula in New Zealand’s upper North Island, beloved by Kiwis for its beaches and holiday homes and summer activities). Eighteen of those summers were spent with my ex-partner and his family, with my daughter added to the mix when […]

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Look at the World

I named my blog after the New Zealand bellbird (in Māori, korimako) – and not just because my last name is Bell. I have always loved birds: for their beauty and intense fragility, the sense of freedom they represent, and for their song. The bellbird is particularly gorgeous. The explorer Captain Cook wrote of its […]

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Fear, change, and how to combat the hate

And I know I am solid and sound;To me the converging objects of the universe perpetually flow;All are written to me, and I must get what the writing means.-Walt Whitman I’m thinking today about the enormous upheavals we have all experienced this year, and about my own fear of uncertainty, and the challenge of change. […]

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Walk The Track With Me

A while ago I wrote about walking the Milford Track solo. It’s one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, and one of the most famous walks in the world. Today and for the next three Fridays it’s being published on Stuff.co.nz: https://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/back-your-backyard/122592580/the-milford-chronicles-taking-on-one-of-the-worlds-most-famous-walks-solo COVID-19 has smashed any possibility of international travel for the forseeable future, and Kiwis […]

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Loving and losing our children

New Zealand’s appalling youth suicide rate is in the news again, as is our impotency in the face of it. A new UNICEF report has found New Zealand’s youth suicide rate – teenagers between 15 and 19 – to be the highest of a long list of 41 OECD and EU countries. The usual culprits […]

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Beginnings

I’m going home next June. I was born in Northern Ireland, and lived with my Protestant minister father and my mother and two siblings in County Armagh, just by the border. In the seventies (yes I am that old) South Armagh was known as “bandit country” because it was such a dangerous place to be during […]

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Inaugural NZ National Writers’ Forum

Stuck in a room full of writers for an entire weekend? It would be some people’s idea of a nightmare. It was my idea of Heaven at the inaugural National Writers’ Forum in Auckland. The forum was the brainchild of the New Zealand Society of Authors (of which I’m a member). Sometimes inaugural events have […]

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Show Business for Shy People

Lee Child once said that “writing is show business for shy people”. This quote resonates with me, particularly at the moment, as I am performing in The Phantom of the Opera at the famous Civic Theatre in Auckland. I’ve been doing musical theatre for many years, but a year or two ago I pulled back from […]

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The Book Exchange

I’ve achieved some rather major literary goals this year, and last night I celebrated with two lovely women. There’s me in the middle. (Those holes in my top are a design feature, not a result of drunken undressing in the dark. I wish.) On the right is Joanna, and to the left is Sara: the […]

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