NZSA President – Dr Vanda Symon
Dr. Vanda Symon is the Author of the Detective Sam Shephard crime fiction series and the stand-alone thriller The Faceless. Her novels are published internationally. She is a three-time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Fiction novel and was shortlisted for the British CWA New Blood Dagger award. A Dunedin resident, Vanda produces and hosts a monthly radio show for the Otago Southland NZSA called Write On, broadcast on Otago Access Radio. Among the many roles she enjoys, Vanda is the President of the NZSA and a writing mentor for the organisation. She was the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand, where she served on the Board for four years. Vanda is a New Zealander of Fijian descent.
Michelle Rahurahu – Te Māngai Māori ki te Poari Representative
Michelle Rahurahu (Ngāti Rahurahu, Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa) is a writer living on Ngāi Tūāhuriri whenua who heralds from Te Moana-ā-Toi. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, where she won the Modern Letters Fiction Prize. As an emerging writer, she was shortlisted for the Michael Gifkins Prize for an Unpublished Novel for her manuscript ‘Pōhara’. Michelle brings experience in intercultural arts policy to the role and is a regular RNZ book reviewer, with advocacy and communications experience.
Tracy Farr – NZSA Vice-President and Regional Delegate for Wellington
Tracy Farr is a writer who used to be a scientist. Her debut novel, The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt was long- or shortlisted for three prestigious literary awards in Australia, and her second novel, The Hope Fault, was one of NZ Listener’s 100 Best Books of 2017. Both novels were published internationally. Her short fiction has won awards (including the Sunday Star-Times Short Story Award) and been published in anthologies, magazines, and literary journals. The Life and Loves of Lena Gaunt and many of Tracy’s short stories have been adapted for radio and broadcast by RNZ, and The Hope Fault was adapted for the stage, premiering in Australia in 2019.
Tracy is co-curator, with Melbourne writer Jenny Ackland, of Bad Diaries Salon, a live literary series that features writers reading, to a theme, from their diaries and unpublished notebooks. She’s taught writing workshops at festivals and writing centres, and has been awarded residencies, fellowships, and funding in Aotearoa and Australia, including the inaugural R.A.K. Mason Fellowship (2014), Bundanon Artist in Residence (2019), and Michael King Writers Centre Established Writer residencies (2018, 2021).
Born in Melbourne, Tracy grew up in Perth, Western Australia. She’s lived in Wellington for 25 years and counting. Through her non-writing work, she has substantial experience in the administration and promotion of professional membership organisations in the science and knowledge sectors.
Helena Andrews – Youth NZSA National Board Intern
Helena Claudia is a 22-year-old writer from Tauranga who has been living in Pōneke for the last four years. Helena has experience across a range of genres and has previously worked with Young New Zealand Writers and the Hemmingway Pfieffer Museum. She has been published in the Young New Zealand Writers Anthologies and VICE NZ, and is slowly piecing together a poetry collection. She especially enjoys reading and writing apocalypse fiction (and non-fiction).
Tess Redgrave – Central Districts Regional Delegate
Tess Redgrave grew up in Hawke’s Bay and has recently returned to live there. She is a trained journalist and has worked as a writer and editor for many publications, including the Reader’s Digest, North & South magazine, and as an editor and Publications Team Leader at the University of Auckland. She has published a non-fiction book going the distance: women outdoors in New Zealand (Tandem Press 2002) and her debut novel Gone to Pegasus (Mākaro Press 2018). She is currently working on a creative non-fiction project with the draft title, Behind the curtains: In search of my grandmother.
Melinda Szymanik – Northern Districts Regional Delegate
Melinda Szymanik is an Auckland-based award-winning writer of picture books, short stories and novels for children and young adults. She also writes poetry for children and adults. Her picture book, The Were-Nana, won the New Zealand Post Children’s Choice Award in 2009, was a Storylines Notable Book in the same year, and was shortlisted for Japan’s 2010 Sakura Medal. A Winter’s Day in 1939, Melinda’s fourth novel was a Storylines Notable Book (2014), shortlisted for the Junior Fiction Award at the 2014 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards, and won Librarian’s Choice at the 2014 LIANZA Awards. Her picture book, Fuzzy Doodle, was a finalist for the Picture Book and Russell Clark Awards at the 2017 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, a 2017 Storylines Notable Book and was a 2017 White Raven Selection. Melinda’s short stories have appeared in trade and educational publications in New Zealand and Australia and were gathered in the collection Time Machine & Other Stories, a finalist at the 2020 NZ Children’s and Young Adults Book Awards. Melinda has four new picture books coming out over the next two years
Melinda has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a post-graduate Diploma in Children’s Literature. She also has a Master’s Degree in Zoology. She regularly visits schools as part of Read NZ’s ‘Writers in Schools’ programme, was the 2014 University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence, and a judge for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in 2016, and for the Storylines Joy Cowley Award from 2019-2021. Currently a trustee on the New Zealand Book Awards Trust board representing NZSA, Melinda has appeared at writers’ festivals across New Zealand, regularly teaches creative writing workshops for adults and children, and blogs on writing.
Melinda has been a member of the NZ Society of Authors for over twenty years. She received mentoring through the Society’s mentoring programme in 2005 leading to her first published novel, Jack the Viking (Scholastic, 2008), and now mentors and advises others through this and other schemes. Melinda is keen to support all Society activities, but particularly advocacy for the protection of authors’ rights, including copyright and the educational lending right. She is also concerned about the low profile of local literature amongst the New Zealand public and is keen to explore ways to challenge and change this.
Heather McQuillan – Canterbury and Top of South Regional Delegate
Heather is the director at Write On School for Young Writers in Ōtuatahi/Christchurch. She has a background in teaching and began her writing career by winning the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award. All three of Heather’s novels for young readers (Mind Over Matter 2006, Nest of Lies 2011, and Avis and the Promise of Dragons, 2019) have been awarded Storylines Notable Books. An, as yet unpublished, YA manuscript was a finalist in the Tessa Duder Award, 2018 and was awarded an NZSA mentorship. Heather hasn’t given up on it but it has joined a number of other ‘Works in Progress’.
In 2015, Heather moved away from fulltime teaching and took up tutoring with Write On, a Master of Creative Writing at Massey University, and writing poetry and flash fiction. In 2016 she won both the National Flash Fiction Day prize and the Micro Madness competition. Heather has had stories selected for the International Best Small Fictions in 2017, 2019 and 2020, Best Microfiction 2019 and was a 2018 Meniscus and Australian CAL Best Prose Prize winner. Her first collection of flash fiction Where Oceans Meet was published in the UK in 2019.
Heather has had a long connection with the NZ Literacy Association and was recipient of the Marie Clay Literacy Trust Travel Award in 2016. As well as teaching writing to young people she regularly presents to teacher groups. Heather enjoys being part of the supportive Ōtautahi/ Christchurch writing community and has a special interest in developing opportunities for young writers.
Kathryn van Beek – Otago/Southland Regional Delegate
Kathryn van Beek has a master’s degree in Creative Writing from the IIML and a BA major in writing for theatre. She writes scripts, nonfiction, short stories, and books for children. She is the winner of the Headland Prize and the Mindfood Short Story Prize and won the Playmarket Young Playwright Award in 2000 and 2001. Kathryn is a fiction reader for takahē magazine and has written several zines, a podcast, a web series, and a number of articles for outlets such as The Spinoff.
In 2021 her story Sea Legend appeared in the anthology Middle Distance, published by Te Herenga Waka University Press, and two other stories were published in Takakē magazine and Turbine Kapohau. She is working on a novel and was the recipient of an NZSA Complete MS assessment in 2019.
Kathryn is also working towards a doctorate on the topic of using writing to make positive social change and was the driving force behind a recent amendment to New Zealand’s Holidays Act. Kathryn is a Senior Communications Advisor with the Southern District Health Board in Dunedin and brings skills in advocacy, and expertise in marketing and communications to the Board.