MA graduate showcase

A range of graduates share their experiences of the Master of Arts in Creative Writing programme.

Each year we invite recently-completed students to tell us, in their own words, about the MA year and outline what they're doing now.

This page is a snapshot of a range of graduates' experiences at the time they contributed. While biographical details are updated from time to time, they should not be read as definitive or or up-to-date.

You can also read about our PhD students and their projects.

Emma Robinson (Writing for the Page, 2022)

It was wonderful to have ten people thinking deeply about my work... I returned to my desk stimulated and ready for the next chapter.

Nafanua Purcell Kersel (Writing for the Page, 2022)

The MA workshop, by nature, comes with potential conflict but...each time my work was shared, I was humbled by the kindness and perspectives of others.

Teherenui Koteka (Scriptwriting, 2022)

I experienced my fair share of challenges throughout the course, but none took away from the overall great experience.

Georgie Wright (Scriptwriting, 2021)

If you're looking for a golden ticket...this course probably isn't it. But it will help you remember that all you can do is keep coming back to the page.

Flora Feltham (Writing for the Page, 2021)

The workload is definitely full on, but in a great way, like you're a speed boat driver or something.

Tamara Tulitua (Writing for the Page, 2021)

Of all that I gained…I most value the thickened resolve to prioritise writing time that the year's work cultivated: the space is cleared and fenced.

Kristene Cristobal (Writing for the Page, 2020)

I would be writing about race, racism, identity, colonization, political oppression. I took a calculated risk entrusting the IIML with coaxing out that story.

Joanna Cho (Writing for the Page, 2020)

It was the social dynamics that shaped my time at the IIML into one of the best years of my life.

Thom Benny (Scriptwriting, 2020)

You'll have your ambition and creative processes challenged and developed, and come away a more complete writer.

Rebecca K Reilly (Writing for the Page, 2019)

How often are you presented with the opportunity and time to write a book, surrounded by experts who want you to succeed? I think you might as well go for it.

Monica Pausina (Scriptwriting, 2019)

I left with such a strong foundation...For me, it was nothing short of miraculous.

Cris Cucerzan (Writing for the Page, 2019)

The MA workshop was a space where people were collectively and generously invested in developing a fine craft.

Laura Southgate (Writing for the Page, 2018)

It was without doubt the best thing I could have done with a year of my life.

Rose Lu (Writing for the Page, 2018)

Workload wise, the course can be intense…but spending a year reading and writing is also a total dream.

Jonathan Watt (Scriptwriting, 2017)

It was great to see work I had written performed at Circa and turned into a short film by the NZ Film School - an invaluable experience.

Tayi Tibble (Writing for the Page, 2017)

I learnt to listen to criticism with humility, to trust the intelligence and generosity of my classmates and to have faith in the work and my skill as a writer.

Maria Samuela (Writing for the Page, 2017)

To other Pasifika writers out there, or other writers of colour, who think they want to do this course too: DO IT.

Chessie Henry (Writing for the Page, 2016)

The great revelation since leaving the IIML: none of what we learned is contained by that year. It just goes on and on, constantly expanding.

Annaleese Jochems (Writing for the Page, 2016)

One thing that’s still marvellous to me is how much smarter and more daring I am when I’m able to think in collaboration with other people.

Maraea Rakuraku (Scriptwriting, 2016)

You learn so much about yourself, others, ways of working, hearing, listening and crafting.

Nick Bollinger (Writing for the Page, 2015)

Sharing my work was daunting but incredibly valuable. The vigorous discussion always helped me improve whatever was on my page.

David Brechin-Smith (Scriptwriting, 2015)

The best thing about it was simply that Ken Duncum and the class pushed me to write better.

Nina Mingya Powles (Writing for the Page, 2015)

The MA gave me a writing community for the first time in my life. I began to feel part of a lineage of Aotearoa writers.

Catherine Robertson (Writing for the Page, 2015)

My classmates were brilliant. My supervisor rocked. Emily Perkins was unfailingly generous with her knowledge and experience.

Redmer Yska (Writing for the Page, 2015)

An indelible year.

Judith Cowley (Scriptwriting, 2014)

I learnt a huge array of skills, and discipline... We had to write three drafts of our scripts. That was invaluable.

Doug Dillaman (Writing for the Page 2014)

If you are a writer, there is no greater gift you can give yourself than a year at the IIML. 

Ben Egerton (Writing for the Page, 2014)

A time of giving and receiving feedback, of delight and bewilderment, a year of mutual encouragement and harsh reality checks, of unbelievable generosity...

Craig Gamble (Writing for the Page, 2014)

It's not a prescription. It's the opposite. It's a year of freedom.

Faith Wilson (Writing for the Page, 2014)

To other future brown writers out there who might be scared of entering into this world: it can be done, and you must do it.

Morgan Bach (Writing for the Page, 2013)

The MA was hard work, but the kind you want to spend all your waking hours doing. if I could go back and do it again I wouldn't hesitate for a millisecond.

Helena Wiśniewska Brow (Writing for the Page, 2013)

I try to be polite with people dithering about whether or not to apply. “Why wouldn't you?” I want to yell. “Why wouldn't you?”

Uther Dean (Scriptwriting, 2012)

It is not that my year at the IIML made me into a better writer, it made me into a writer fullstop.

Gemma Bowker-Wright (Writing for the Page, 2011)

You go into the course with the potential to become a writer. The course gives the tools and confidence to realise this. What you do with it then is up to you.

Hera Lindsay Bird (Writing for the Page, 2011)

The MA year accelerated my thinking and my courage, and helped me find my voice. It gave me permission to make writing the central task of my life.

David Coventry (Writing for the Page, 2010)

I never stopped writing once it was over. And it was something I had no way of writing before the programme started.

Amy Head (Writing for the Page, 2010)

As well as giving me a goal to work towards, the course introduced me to writers and readers who could offer valuable insight...

Breton Dukes (Writing for the Page, 2009)

It's a serious course. It's like paint stripper.

Helen Heath (Writing for the Page, 2009)

It was an intense but wonderful period of my life - this MA experience - that gave me the base material for an award-winning book...

Emma Martin (Writing for the Page, 2009)

There was no conveyor belt – everything achieved was earned. Magic did happen in that room...and yes, I did despair. The end of the year came all too soon.

Pat White (Writing for the Page, 2009)

A year spent with like-minded writers, where work is discussed openly and you are challenged to extend your literary boundaries is an opportunity like no other.

Ashleigh Young (Writing for the Page, 2009)

Almost more than the writing, I loved thinking deeply about what I was reading…Some of the writers I discovered on the way feel formative to me now.

Sam Kelly (Scriptwriting, 2008)

My writing skills accelerated greatly by spending a year intensely focused on writing, enforced by blessed deadlines, with sage guidance.

Tina Makereti (Writing for the Page, 2008)

Being as open to critique as possible helped accelerate my learning. I loved the democracy of the workshop room, where we all learnt from each other.

Louise Wallace (Writing for the Page, 2008)

The MA year managed to highlight the interesting and unique things about our individual work and voice, that we could then refine and learn how to harness.

Eleanor Catton (Writing for the Page, 2007)

The IIML experience was absolutely invaluable. The programme equipped me with the tools, vocabulary, and confidence to take myself seriously as a writer.

Tusi Tamasese (Scriptwriting, 2007)

It was a great experience, to hone the craft in an environment with generous, creative, supportive people.

Tim Worrall (Ngāi Tūhoe) - Scriptwriting, 2007

Ken's beautifully designed course gave me the kick in the arse I needed. It gave me a gentle but firm understanding of my strengths and weaknesses.

Amy Brown (Writing for the Page, 2006)

During the MA year, I developed the confidence and technical wherewithal to keep writing and submitting my work for publication.

Therese Lloyd (Writing for the Page, 2006)

The beauty of the programme was that it gave me time; to read, write, edit, hone, cull, angst and finally to submit a manuscript-length collection of poems.

Branwen Millar (Scriptwriting, 2006)

The scriptwriting MA is world class - the skills learnt, the people met, the support I continue to receive.

Anna Taylor (Writing for the Page, 2006)

The IIML feels like a community - of writers and teachers; people who are passionate about writing, and books, and the process of making them come alive.

Michele Amas (Writing for the Page, 2005)

The course demands you focus, but not in a navel-gazing way. It asks that you look and participate, it's not a solitary year by any means.

Lynda Chanwai-Earle (Scriptwriting, 2005)

Would I want to do the course all over again? Of course!

Desirée Gezentsvey (Scriptwriting, 2005)

With Ken Duncum calmly and wisely guiding us through the roller coaster journey, the MA was an enlightening experience.

Alice Miller (Writing for the Page, 2005)

I'll always be madly grateful for that year of intensive reading and writing, and for what has come after.

Marian Evans (Scriptwriting, 2004 )

It was hard. I struggled to believe I was a writer...And then one day I realised that I was happier than I’d ever been.

Kirsten McDougall (Writing for the Page, 2004)

If you are serious about your writing then this is one of the best courses you can do to help develop your understanding and practice.

Marty Smith (Writing for the Page, 2004)

I can’t separate the MA from what led into it and what led out of it.

Kelly Kilgour (Scriptwriting, 2003)

It’s unlike any other course because it allowed me to do what I needed to do – write. No preaching of any structural formulas. No essays or theory.

Hinemoana Baker (Writing for the Page, 2002)

The sense of being alumni of the course is still strong and nourishing. The differerence it has made to my writerly self-esteem is immense.

Cliff Fell (Writing for the Page, 2002)

I came to see how much the reading and writing of the Reading Journal would feed into the poems I wrote...

Whiti Hereaka (Scriptwriting 2002)

Learning to give and to receive feedback was invaluable. It was both overwhelming and humbling to have a room full of people discussing your work.

Rachael King (2001)

The difference between the MA and going it alone is the friends you make, the support you get, the permission to live and breathe your creativity for a while.

Paula Morris (2001)

I made some good friends…I wrote a novel, and completing it made me determined to keep writing.

Carl Shuker (2001)

I made best friends for life, and had some of the best times of my life...The MA rewards you with exponential returns on what you put into it.

Anna Smaill (2001)

The best foundation I can imagine for a life of writing...

Tim Corballis (2000)

Did I learn to write? I'm still not sure I’ve learned that. If I have, it was the MA in Creative Writing that started me learning how to learn it.