Nature writing weekend workshop with acclaimed NZ author and teacher Deborah Shepard

About the event

At no time in history has nature writing seemed more important and pertinent than now, poised as we are in the midst of a climate crisis. Yet each day as we navigate the welter of alarming reports in the media it is easy to feel a rising sense of helplessness. What can I really do, on my own, to avert a catastrophe?  On this workshop the focus will be on redirecting our anxieties into paying deep attention to the wonder of Nature, discovering what it can teach us and how we in turn can contribute to the discussion by paying tribute, through creative expression, to its majesty and power.

Join author and experienced writing tutor Deborah Shepard on her writing residency at the historic Karekare Homestead, for a weekend of nature writing in a remarkable location on the margins between the Waitakere Ranges and the Tasman sea. Writing in the homestead and outdoors you will have an opportunity to develop your writing skills and sharpen your powers of observation and analysis through a range of writing exercises, group discussion, and the study of nature texts.

Event includes

Writing exercises on:

  • Your personal relationship with nature beginning with your earliest memory of engaging with nature and its majestic power
  • Immersive writing on the beach at Karekare and from a higher location in the dunes
  • A close encounter with nature
  • Exploring, understanding and respecting the wild: reflecting on what we can learn from the natural world and considering how we can contribute to the discussion through our writing

An introduction to the nature writing genre:

  • Group study of a selection of some of the most inspiring examples of nature writing
  • A reading programme based on a selected bibliography of the nature writing genre

Sharing our experiences through writing:

  • An opportunity to share your writing with a community of writers united in the act of reflecting on the importance of the natural world

An opportunity to deepen your appreciation of nature through a writing project:

  • This course may provide a starting point for your own writing project or be the stimulus and encouragement you need for a work in progress
This workshop is suitable for

All comers who feel passionate about the natural world. We all have the capacity to write from our personal experience on the subjects that matter to us. On Deborah’s courses you are introduced to techniques and triggers that help strengthen and develop your writing voice.

About the tutor

Deborah Shepard is a biographer, oral historian, teacher of memoir and journaller. She is also a life writing mentor for the New Zealand Society of Authors with many years of experience teaching memoir and biography through Public Programmes at the University of Auckland and at the Michael King Writers’ Centre where she was a resident in 2013.

Her books include: Reframing Women: A History of New Zealand Film (2000), Between the Lives: Partners in Art (2005), Her Life’s Work (2009) all of which were critically acclaimed for documenting the contribution of women to the arts in New Zealand. Her journal Giving Yourself to Life: A Journal of Pain, Hope and Renewal (2015) was described by poet, journal writer and novelist Elizabeth Smither as, “Humane, delicate and bold as the journals of May Sarton or Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s observation of her snail.” Her latest book The Writing Life: Twelve New Zealand Authors (2018) provides a glimpse into the writing lives of twelve of New Zealand’s most loved and acclaimed elder authors.

In her spare time Deborah enjoys photographing nature and posting her photos with short stories on Instagram.
What others say about the tutor

“I came away with a lot of confidence that I had something to say and that I could say it well”
— Terry Levenberg

“Over the five sessions I found my “creative writing voice” as an apprentice, in a safe and supportive environment and through a superbly designed course. As a small group of diverse writers, we were expertly guided by the wise and gentle Deborah, who is an outstanding teacher”
— Maria Kazmierov

“Deborah has a beautiful, compassionate, inclusive approach to teaching.”
— Janet Sergeant

Event information

Saturday 26 & Sunday 27 October 2019

9.30am to 3.30pm

Karekare House, 1 Watchmans Road, Karekare, Auckland


Booking information

There are only 12 spaces available for the 2 day workshop, so be in quick to secure a place on this inspiring course.

Please send enquiries directly to [email protected]

Bookings close 18 October 2019.

Important notes

What to bring: An A4 lined notebook and pen, warm clothing including a rain jacket, lunch and a water bottle and snacks for outdoor writing exercises.

Commuting: It is a 45min drive from Auckland central to Karekare for those choosing to commute each day. If you want to be close to Karekare House, there is accomodation available at and