Dunsford, Cathie

Dunsford, Cathie


Rights enquiries
Publicity enquiries

In Brief

Cathie Dunsford is a fiction writer, poet and editor. She has anthologised significant feminist and lesbian writing from New Zealand and Australia, and these collections include The Exploding Frangipani (1990), Subversive Acts (1991), and Car Maintenance, Explosives and Love (1998). She has written a number of novels and the poetry collection, Survivors: Uberlebende (1990), and her work has been translated into German and Turkish.


Dunsford, Cathie (1953 - ) [Ngā Puhi Māori, Hawai'ian, Pākehā] is a fiction writer, poet, and anthologist who has edited ground-breaking anthologies of quality feminist, lesbian, and indigenous writing from New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific.

Born and educated in Auckland, Dunsford was awarded her MA and PhD from the University of Auckland, for research on the Gothic novel. She has taught literature, creative writing and publishing at Auckland University since 1975. She was a Fulbright scholar, teaching New Zealand literature and women's studies at the University of California, Berkeley, from 1983 - 1986. Dunsford has lived in the USA, the UK and Germany, and now directs an international publishing consultancy.

Dunsford's novels are Cowrie (1994); Kia Kaha (1998); The Journey Home (1997); Manawa Toa: Heart Warrior (2000); and Song of the Selkies (2001). Keri Hulme writes of Cowrie: 'Take a wonderfully competent angling and archaeologising lesbian...take an attractive - because accurate - picture of modern Hawai'i...and take the dignity and irresolution of all our lives... a gentle, determined, insightful and womanful book.' From the Otago Daily Times: 'The writing is vivid and evocative, rich in descriptive passages and offering an interesting insight into a subculture of our society.'

Dr Meriel Watts writes in the International Review of Books, 'Song of the Selkies is set entirely in the harsh climate of these northern islands, and the reader might miss the warmth of the Pacific and the camaraderie of Cowrie's marae in Aotearoa. But while we must wait for the next book for a return to her home, this one provides us with a delightful and different experience, yet one with dreams that feed the soul and imagery that nourishes the senses just as much as the previous books in the 'Cowrie' series have. Even the reader who has never been to the Orkney Islands will come to feel she knows this wild and enchanting place.'

Her fiction and non-fiction writing has been widely anthologised in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In 1997 she was International Woman of the Year in Publishing (UK/Europe). She has also written an international bestseller, Getting Published - The Inside Story, launched at the Frankfurt Bookfair, 2003.

In 2007, two conferences on Dunsford's novels were held at the Universities of Kingston and Manitoba, resulting in a book: Talkstory, Poetics in Cathie Dunsford's Books (Global Dialogues Press, 2007), also published online. Dunsford has read her work at the Frankfurt, Leipzig and Istanbul Bookfairs and is on the international board of directors of the Asia and Pacific Writers Network.

All of her novels have been translated and published in Germany and Turkey, and her poetry collection, Survivors: Uberlebende (1990), University of Osnabruck Press, was a bestseller.

Anthologies edited by Cathie Dunsford include Vaka Moana: Pacific Writing (2007), New Women's Fiction (1986); The Exploding Frangipani (1990); Subversive Acts (1991); Me and Marilyn Monroe (1993); Car Maintenance, Explosives and Love (1998). The range of titles suggests the colourful and energetic approach Dunsford takes in her selections of women's writing from Australasia and the Pacific. There is an entry for Cathie Dunsford in The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature.

Ao Toa is an eco-thriller combining action and suspense with deep emotions and the sensual power of the natural world. It is peopled with believable women and men, teenagers and elders, suits and activists, farmers and gardeners. As they grapple with concerns ranging from sick children and indigenous medicines to toxic sprays and genetic engineering, they encounter the realities of corruption, politics and power. Ao Toa was launched in the UK in September 2004 at the International Science festival in Orkney.

Dunsford's novel Kaitiakitanga Pasifika was published by Global Dialogues Press in 2012.

Email Dunsford Publishing Consultants at


Updated July 2022.