Michael O'Leary


Kia ora tātau
He mihi kia koutou

Mā te ako ka mārama
Mā te mārama ka mātau
Mā te mātau ka ora

Horahia te marino
Horahia i Rotorua
Tukua te rangi mo te ruri
Kia rerehu – i.
E hinawa – e!

Nō reira: tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa.

By learning comes understanding
Through understanding comes knowledge and wisdom
Through knowledge and wisdom comes life and well-being

Spread out below lies Rotorua Lake;
How calm and still it lies!
This is our day for dance and song
How far will the sound travel!

My name is Michael O’Leary, I was born in Auckland in 1950. This whakatauki is a mixture of two works: the first tells of the importance of knowledge and wisdom as life-affirming aspects of being a human in this world, the second comes from my own tribal roots and tells of the natural world, and how we must celebrate both the natural and human worlds in song and dance, and most writers, academic or otherwise, often ask the question: ‘How far will my voice and words travel?’
I am a writer, poet, novelist, artist and publisher, my Earl of Seacliff Art Workshop imprint has published over 120 titles of New Zealand literary works and in 2009 we celebrated 25 years of publishing. My own writing includes five novels, ten volumes of poetry, short stories, plus several non-fiction publications. My writing has been published in anthologies and my art work has been shown in galleries. In 2010 I had a work on display at Pataka in Porirua as part of the exhibition celebrating poet Alistair Campbell’s life and work. I have also worked with several Kapiti musicians who recorded a CD of songs inspired by my poetry which came out late in 2011. In the 1990s several of my songs were recorded by the Dunedin Irish band Blackthorn. In 1996 I was awarded my BA from Otago University and an MA in English from Victoria University in 2002.
More recently I completed a PhD in the Gender and Women’s Studies Department at Victoria University. My thesis is titled ‘Social and Literary Constraints on Women Writers in New Zealand 1945 to 1970’, that is, from the end of WW2 up to the feminist movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. In the thesis is a chapter on Māori women writers of the period, much of which was previously unavailable. 'Unlevel Crossings', my novel was published by Huia Publishers in 2002 My CD Fences Fall released in 2011. In 2012 I have published a book of my artwork over the last 40 years simply titled 'Artist'.

Smashwords Interview

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Auckland, New Zealand Aotearoa's largest city. I had a very working class, Irish Catholic up-bringing with some Maori background also. We were a poor family, dad worked in factories and mum stayed at home and looked after us. Auckland is a very beautiful city and is a great blend of natural and man made aspects, it has a diverse range of cultures and is the largest Polynesian city in the world. My writing reflects both the industrial, cultural and aesthetic nature of the city.
When did you first start writing?
I began writing in my early twenties about forty years ago. When I was young I used to make up stories and tell them to the other kids on the way home from school, and I think this was the beginning of my literary career. Due to family circumstances I left school early without qualifications. Around this time I wrote some songs and poems, being influenced to a large degree by the Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Dylan etc. When I began to read more widely after attending night school, and later university, my literary knowledge increased as did my influences.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Michael O'Leary online


This member has not published any books.