Whakamaharatanga for Renee in Otaki

A Whakamaharatanga will be held to honour Renee in Otaki. Photo by Doug Lilly
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The passing of Renée, an iconic figure in Aotearoa’s literary and arts scene, last December sparked an outpouring of love, gratitude, and grief. Renée, a trailblazing writer, teacher, activist, and mentor, passed away peacefully in Wellington at the age of 94, leaving behind a profound legacy.

In the wake of her death, members of the literary community expressed a collective sense of loss, echoing sentiments of disbelief at her absence and gratitude for having known her. Renée’s impact was profound and widespread, touching the lives of many with her extraordinary talent and generosity.

Renée’s self-identification as a “lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals” epitomised her commitment to writing about marginalised communities, including working-class women, takatāpui, and Māori. Despite beginning her writing journey later in life, her body of work encompassed plays, poetry, short stories, novels, and memoirs, each marked by her distinct voice and acute intelligence.

Her memoir, “These Two Hands,” published in 2017, offered a glimpse into a life marked by resilience and determination in the face of adversity. Renée’s early years, shaped by tragedy and hardship, laid the foundation for her unwavering dedication to her craft and her advocacy for social justice.

Throughout her career, Renée remained a steadfast advocate for women’s voices, challenging societal norms and amplifying the stories of those often overlooked. Her contributions were recognized with numerous awards and honours, including the Ngā Tohu ā Tā Kingi Ihaka and the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction.

A Whakamaharatanga – Remembering Renee – and her work will take place at 38 Bennetts Road, Ōtaki on Saturday July 6 from 4-6pm. All Welcome.