Orwin, Joanna 1944-

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ORWIN, Joanna 1944-

PERSONAL: Born November 28, 1944, in Nelson, New Zealand; daughter of Richard Arthur (an ear, nose, and throat specialist) and Joan Frances (Sladden) Lucas; married Donald Francis Ginn Orwin, 1968 (deceased, 1989); children: John, Sally, Kate. Education: University of Canterbury, B.Sc. (Hons), 1968, B.A., 1992. Hobbies and other interests: "Over the years I have sailed small boats, wind surfed, and snow skied. Now I mainly tramp (hike) in the New Zealand back country, garden, attend Masters swimming training, and always-spend time reading, and going to films, and theatre."

ADDRESSES: Home and offıce—227 Aonhead Rd., Christchurch 8004, New Zealand. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Forest and Range Experiment Station (later Forest Research Institute, then Landcare Research), plant ecologist and science editor, 1967-75, science editor, 1982-96, science writing trainer, 1996-98; writer of children's books, 1980-87, 1998—; freelance writer, 1998—.

MEMBER: New Zealand Society of Authors, New Zealand Book Council, New Zealand Children's Book Foundation, New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

AWARDS, HONORS: Shortlist, New Zealand Children's Book of the Year, 1985, for Ihaka and the Prophecy, and 1988, for Watcher in the Forest; New Zealand Children's Book of the Year, 1986, for The Guardian of the Land; Creative New Zealand grant, 2000, for Out of Tune; Award in History, Historical Branch, New Zealand Internal Affairs, 1992, for Four Generations from Maoridom; winner, senior fiction category, New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards, 2002, for Owl; Award in History, New Zealand History Research Trust Fund, 2003.


for children

Ihaka and the Summer Wandering, Oxford University Press (Auckland, New Zealand), 1982.

Ihaka and the Prophecy, Oxford University Press (Auckland, New Zealand), 1984.

The Guardian of the Land, Oxford University Press (Auckland, New Zealand), 1985.

The Watcher in the Forest, Oxford University Press (Auckland, New Zealand), 1987.

(With Syd Cormack) Four Generations from Maoridom: The Memoirs of a South Island Kaumatua and Fisherman University of Otaga Press (Dunedin, New Zealand), 1997.

The Tar Dragon (picture book), Ashton Scholastic, 1997.

Owl, Longacre Press, 2001.

Contributor of articles to periodicals, including Forest and Bird, Terra Nova, New Zealand Forest Industries, New Zealand Rod and Rifle, and Growing Today.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A teenage novel based on parallel historical and modern stories, "Out of Time," for Longacre Press; and a commissioned book on New Zealand Kauri—history, natural history, and cultural content.

SIDELIGHTS: Joanna Orwin told CA: "Becoming involved in writing fiction was chance and op portunity—space and time suddenly appeared in my life, and I needed to fill it productively. I was unemployed, home with a young baby, two children at primary school, and have never been good at not having mental occupation. I hadn't ever planned on writing, or not consciously. Books were about reading—I am first and foremost a reader. The writing became compulsive during the 1980s, then life and a return to paid work as a science editor intervened for many years. Finding time to write fiction still has to compete with the demands of earning some sort of living (which I am now managing to do by various sorts of non-fiction writing), time for my adult family, gardening an increasingly unruly quarter acre, and walking in the back country.

"All of my books for children have grown from particular New Zealand landscapes. Landscape and its power to move and influence people has always intrigued and provoked me. Stories that used the power of place to create atmosphere and authenticity had most impact on me as a child—and still do. As I grew older I became interested in the natural processes that form landscapes, and ended up studying geomorphology (the science of landforms) and botany at university. This led me into a job as a plant ecologist—one of the main attractions was being able to spend time in the mountains. So, when I came to write fiction, it seemed natural to try and recreate an authentic landscape and people it with characters who were strongly influenced by that landscape.

"My book Owl is my attempt to use Maori myth as the basis of a story, as a metaphor for what is happening to the MacIntyre family. I was trying to use myth in a modern context, but using it the way it's always been used—as an explanation and pattern for human behaviour.

"I think it's important to have stories that grow out of our own experience and reflect our culture, our place in the world. My books will therefore continue to reflect New Zealand landscapes and the New Zealand experience, while inevitably being about the concerns and emotions that are common to young people wherever they are living."



Magpies, November, 2001, Raymond Huber, review of Owl, p. 8.