Vanessa studied Theatre at Victoria University and trained as an actor, graduating from Toi Whakaari in 1997. She studied creative writing with Albert Wendt and Witi Ihimaera at Auckland University in 2001 and in 2004 graduated with an MA scriptwriting with distinction from Victoria University of Wellington's International Institute of Modern Letters, where she studied with tutor Ken Duncum. There she wrote The Bright Sea which was part of the 2005 Adam Playreading series. Another play The Land of Make Believe was produced at Silo theatre in 2005. In 2003 she wrote and directed a half hour play Where are you my only one? as part of the ‘To Russia with Love’ season at Silo theatre, Auckland. In 2005 while a resident at The Robert Lord Cottage in Dunedin she began developing it as a longer work, with support from Creative New Zealand. It was presented as a rehearsed reading at Circa Two in 2008 as part of Write Out Loud Wellington and received its successful premiere season at Circa Two in September 2009. Another successful production of Where are you my only one? was produced at The Basement in Auckland in 2012, starring Elizabeth Hawthorne and Elena Stjeko. Vanessa is based in Wellington.