Renee, a second-generation Chinese Kiwi, is a poet, essayist, playwright, paediatrician, medical researcher and fiction writer.
Renee has written in many genres including short and long fiction, poetry, theatre, non fiction, blogging and arts journalism. She has also collaborated on visual arts works, film and music, produced and directed theatre works, worked as a dramaturge, taught creative writing and organized community-based arts initiatives.
Renee has received acclaim for her work as a playwright, touring eight plays to festivals and venues nationally. Her play The Quiet Room was shortlisted for the Adam Play Award in 2013, won the teen section of Playmarket’s Plays for the Young in 2014, and SWANZ award for Best Play in 2016. Under the Same Moonwas a finalist in the SWANZ Best Play Awards in 2015. In 2017, she adapted her play The Bone Feeder into an opera, writing the libretto with music composed by Gareth Farr. Her first musical, Dominion Road the Musical (composed by Jun Bin Lee), was produced in 2017, with further productions planned. Currently she is working on a further opera, a full length play on climate change titled Boat People, and is looking for touring opportunities for her latest childrens’ play, Sofija’s Garden.
An interactive digital narrative work, Golden Threads (2017), created for Auckland Museum (with Allan Xia), won the Play by Play Award for Diversity in 2017 and has gone on to be exhibited in China. Inspired by real historical figures and events, Golden Threads explores and celebrates the history of Chinese immigrants to Aotearoa in the 19th century.
Renee has also been running community writing workshops for almost a decade, with New Kiwi Women Write Their Stories, a recurrent month-long writing workshop for migrant women run in collaboration with Auckland Council and Local Boards. This initiative has so far launched 8 anthologies of migrant women’s writing and spawned some new writers. A 2019 initiative, The Kitchen, invites NZ writers into home kitchens with neighbours sharing stories over food.
Renee was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for services to the Arts in the New Year’s Honours List 2018. She won a Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leadership Award in 2010 and the Royal Society Manhire Prize in Science Writing for Creative Non-Fiction in 2012 with a personal essay on epigenetics. She won NEXT Woman of the Year awards 2018, Arts and Culture category. She also was a recipient of the 2018 D’Arcy Writer’s Grants with her essay on Child Poverty published in North and South magazine in 2020.
Further information on Renee and her work can be found at: