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Rebecca Macfie quits the Listener to write major new book

Rebecca Macfie quits the Listener to write major new book

Rebecca Macfie, a much-awarded senior writer at the Listener, has quit after eleven years to write a biography of former CTU boss Helen Kelly.

Macfie said her decision to leave the Listener had not been easy, but she was committed to writing about 'an extraordinary woman, a brave and committed trade unionist who fought for the interests of marginalised workers, overturned traditional concepts of unionism, and never gave up'.

Helen Kelly died of cancer in October 2016 at the age of fifty-two. She was a pivotal figure in numerous high-profile battles for workers' rights, including in the mining, agricultural and forestry industries. In 2011, in the lead-up to the filming of The Hobbit, she famously supported Actors Equity in its campaign to get Warners to negotiate collective terms and conditions for New Zealand performers, bringing her into public conflict with director Sir Peter Jackson. Towards the end of her life she advocated strongly for the legalisation of medicinal marijuana.

Macfie said her book on Kelly would not be a hagiography. 'My aim is to present a completely honest portrait of someone who had her enemies as well as her admirers.'

The book has been commissioned by independent Wellington publisher Awa Press, which published Macfie's Tragedy at Pike River Mine: How and why 29 Men Died, winner of three major literary awards and recently reprinted for the seventh time. The Kelly biography is scheduled for release towards the end of 2019.

Macfie said along the way she would also be working as a free-lance journalist. 'The media scene in New Zealand is more wide open than it's ever been, with plenty of outlets for really important stories,' she said.


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