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


Before and After
By Michael O'Leary
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 7,160. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2012. Category: Fiction
Before and After/Neither Here nor There is a story of bohemian existential dislocation in which the two protagonists literally don't know where they are, what city in New Zealand they live in, Auckland or Dunedin, and their attempts to solve their dilemma leads to an hilarious exploration of dream/reality, personal and social dis-intergration.
Out of It
By Michael O'Leary
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 15,260. Language: English. Published: March 15, 2012. Category: Fiction
Michael O’Leary’s cult 1980s cricket novel Out of It. The novel, which is possibly the only literary cricket novel published in New Zealand, features the beige New Zealand one-day side of the 1986/87 season and is a satirical celebration of that period. New Zealand's team plays on Eden Park, Auckland, against an international invitation Out of It XI featuring famous rock stars, writers & artists.
Magic Alex's Revenge
By Michael O'Leary
Series: Dreamlander Express, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 68,600. Language: English. Published: March 14, 2012. Category: Fiction
Magic Alex's Revenge is the final instalment of Michael O'Leary’s trilogy, The Dreamlander Express. It is a complex and often beguiling look at the Beatles in the 1960s and the 'All You Need Is Hate' of the 1930s epoch of Nazi Germany, how the ‘Sixties’ generation of peace and love and anti materialism degenerated into the ‘I, me, mine’ of the 21st Century Schizoid Person consumed by technology.
Unlevel Crossings
By Michael O'Leary
Series: Dreamlander Express, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 72,510. Language: English. Published: March 14, 2012. Category: Fiction
(5.00 from 1 review)
The first of the novels of Michael O'Leary's famous trilogy 'The Dreamlander Express' this is the story of the picaresque hero Patrick Mika Fitzgerald who embarks on a physical and psychological train trip. He travels from Auckland to Dunedin, New Zealand, in search of love but along the way he encounters many things he didn't count on, his journey becomes playful, outrageous and immense.
Straight - a novel in the Irish Maori tradition
By Michael O'Leary
Series: Dreamlander Express, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 50,480. Language: English. Published: March 14, 2012. Category: Fiction
(5.00 from 1 review)
Straight is the second novel in Michael O’Leary’s trilogy. It concerns the early years of two of the first novel Unlevel Crossings’ protagonists, Hinengaro Te Riro i He and Paul Te Ariki Calvert. Straight is set in early 1980’s Auckland and begins with Paul Calvert’s return to that city after several years in the mysterious place called ‘Dreamland’.
The Irish Annals of New Zealand
By Michael O'Leary
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 19,140. Language: English. Published: March 12, 2012. Category: Fiction
The Irish Annals of New Zealand was written to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the founding of New Zealand as an English colony in 1840. The novel is a Joycean 'tour de force' through the history of NZ from the Irish point of view rather than the English one.

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