The Trust

The Michael King Writers Centre Trust

The Michael King Writers Centre is overseen by the Michael King Writers Studio Trust. The Trust and the Centre were established in 2005 a year after historian and writer Michael King died in a car accident. The Centre was set up a by the Trust to honour and see to fruition, the long held vision of Michael for a national writers centre in Aotearoa – a place where writers could spend time on a residential retreat and focus on their work without the interruptions of everyday life. The founding trustees were: Christine Cole Catley, Gordon McLauchlan, Wensley Wilcox, Witi Ihimaera, Geoff Chapple, Jim Mason, Geoff Walker, Peter Bartlett and Helen Woodhouse.

Current Trustees are listed below. The trust also has a number of specialist advisers who help out with particular projects.

Our patrons are Michael King’s daughter Rachael King and his son Jonathan King. The trust is grateful to them for their support. Rachael King is an award-winning New Zealand writer and author of two books for adults, Magpie Hall and The Sound of Butterflies, and one for children, Red Rocks. Her work has been translated into eight languages and has garnered critical praise worldwide.

Jonathan King  is a film director and screen writer. He began his screen career as writer and director of the New Zealand black comedy movie Black Sheep and was co-writer of the screenplay for The Tattooist. His most recent project is a feature-length remake of the New Zealand television series Under the Mountain, as writer (adapted from the original book by Maurice Gee), director and producer.

The trust is registered as a charitable trust with the New Zealand Charities Commission, registration number CC25972, and has tax exemption status for donations.

  • Melanie is Director of the New Zealand operation of Allen & Unwin. Allen & Unwin is Australia’s leading independent publisher and has been voted Australia’s Publisher of the Year twelve times, including the inaugural award in 1992. It publishes around 250 new titles each year including literary and commercial fiction, a broad range of general non fiction, academic and professional titles and books for children and young adults. Melanie completed a Masters in Publishing in 1993 and became a sales representative with Cassell Publishers in the United Kingdom. She subsequently joined the sales team of Oxford University Press, first in the UK then in New Zealand. After a stint with the Paper Plus Group, Melanie joined Allen & Unwin in 2006.

    Melanie was the president of PANZ (Publishers Association of NZ) from 2015 – 2017 and is currently the immediate past president.

    The Trust welcomed Melanie as a trustee in November 2014 and as Chair of the Trust in June 2019.

  • Nicki is a qualified chartered accountant living in Devonport with her family.

    While beginning her career in audit with Deloitte, she has worked across a range of industries including investment banking, publishing, and in several countries including the UK, China, and South Korea.

    In the last five years Nicki has worked with several not-for-profit entities preparing both management and financial accounts, and in her current role as a Chartered Accountant with accountants Gannaway Mercer, she consults to not-for profits, and small to medium business’s on all aspects of accounting and tax. Her interests outside work include enjoying literature and cooking.

    Nicki joined the trust in October 2016.

  • Sāmoan, Tuvaluan, Chinese, American New Zealander Madeleine is the current editor of The Spinoff and a former senior editor at North & South magazine. She is the author of Jacinda Ardern: A New Kind of Leader and the co-author of Steven Adams’ bestselling autobiography My Life, My Fight.

    Madeleine joined the Trust in March 2023.

  • Whiti is an award-winning novelist and playwright of Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa and Pākehā descent, based in Wellington. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing (Script writing) from the International Institute of Modern Letters. She is the author of four novels: The Graphologist’s Apprentice, the award-winning YA novel Bugs and Legacy.     Update 12 May 2022: Whiti won the 2022 Jann Medlicott Acorn Award for fiction in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for her fourth novel Kurangaituku (2021).

    She is also co-editor, with Witi Ihimaera, of an anthology of Māori myths — Pūrākau.

    Whiti has twice held a MKWC Residency, (2012/2017) and has been involved with Te Papa Tupu, an incubator programme for Māori writers, as a writer, a mentor and a judge. She is also a board member of the Māori Literature Trust and joined the Michael King Writers Centre Trust in June 2019.

  • David is a secondary English teacher at Northcote College on the North Shore of Tāmaki Makaurau.  He has worked for many years with young writers to encourage them to see themselves as writers and to tell their stories.  His academic research has focused on reading for pleasure and the involvement of whānau to support students’ reading at secondary school.   He was a 2012 Woolf Fisher Fellow and a 2015 Fulbright Distinguished Teacher.

    David joined the Trust in March 2022.

  • Eleanor is an arts manager who has worked across a range of leading arts organisations, funding agencies, festivals, and philanthropic initiatives in Aotearoa New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Most recently from 2015 to 2023, she was Senior Adviser (International) at Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa, where she worked with key partners, including in the literature and publishing sectors, to develop and deliver international capability, audience and market development initiatives.

    Before joining CNZ, she was Associate Director at the Auckland Writers Festival. While in the UK, she held roles at the Tate Galleries as a Senior Patrons Manager and at two advocacy organisations established to increase private philanthropy in the UK.

    Eleanor joined the Trust in August 2023.

  • Our newest trustee, Mel is the Managing Director of Hachette Aotearoa New Zealand and has over 25 years’ experience working for multinational book publishers both in the UK and NZ. She sits on the Copyright Licensing NZ Board.