Ōtaki local, Renee, is well-known for her writing in both the novel and stage arenas. But it is her role as a mentor to other writers that earned her the 2015 New Zealand Writer’s Guild Mentorship Award.
The award is particularly significant in the writing world as it is chosen by writers, for writers. It is given for recognition of many years of both teaching and writing, which Renee considered an honour.
Renee is also a tutor at Whitireia Polytechnic, working in the Creative Writing Programme. So mentoring is a big part of her working life. And she enjoys it. Both the contact with writers and the constant learning.
She often asks for hard-copies of people’s work to go over and when they thank her, she is quick to point out that it is their work. She is just helping them to grow and develop.
Renee explains that it is a mentor’s role to help, not lead. “You have to accept what the writer wants to write and only push them along their chosen path. The student sets the goal, and the mentor helps.”
She enjoys talking, joking and being able to compare work with other writers. “It’s great because it works both ways.”
Another aspect that affects her writing is her ancestry. Coming from a mixed Maori/European background makes her feel as if she’s “standing on a bridge with a foot on each side. An entranceway into either.”
Currently, aside from mentoring and tutoring, Renee is working on her next novel. She also continues to write on her blog every Wednesday and holds her workshops: Your Life, Your Story.
Arielle Crozier is a student of the Whitireia Creative Writing Programme that Renee teaches.