Hēni Collins was born in Wanganui and grew up on a sheep farm in south Taranaki. She was educated at Pātea High School and Wanganui Girls’ College. She attended Victoria University for a year before transferring to the University of Canterbury where she graduated with a B.A in sociology and a post-graduate diploma in journalism (1980). She worked as a journalist for The Daily News in Hāwera and New Plymouth (1983-4). While travelling in Africa she worked as a free-lance journalist for the New Zealand Herald, covering the United Nations Women’s Conference in Nairobi (1985). On returning to Auckland, she worked for the New Zealand Herald covering Māori news (1987-88), and for the Evening Post covering employment and Māori news (1989). She married John McDougall and had two children. Continuing to work on a free-lance basis she has written for Mana magazine, the Listener, Te Waka Toi (Creative New Zealand), the Community Employment Group, City Voice, the Porirua City Council, the Department of Corrections and SPANZ (Spanning Presbyterians in Aotearoa New Zealand). In 1994 she tutored a “Writing Skills” course at Victoria University.
Since 1994 she has also worked on large non-fiction projects (towards possible publication) on topics including dual Māori/Pākehā ethnicity and the life of the rangātira Te Rauparaha (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa). Her marriage ended in 1998. In 2000-2002 she was involved in editing and facilitating the publication of the third book in an autobiographical series by Mihipeka Edwards: “Mihipeka, Call of an Elder, Karanga a te Kuia”, published by Steele Roberts Ltd, November 2002. In 2001 she was involved in organising a full-day hui on “Being Both Māori and Pākehā” at Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Wellington., and has spoken publicly on this topic at an oral history conference (Palmerston North, N.Z. 1999), at a public talk at the National Library auditorium in Wellington (2000), and at a Te Waka āwhina hui at Victoria University, Wellington, (2001). In 2002-3 she worked towards completing a Masters in Philosophy in Māori Studies at Massey University on the topic of dual Māori/Pākehā ethnicity. Her thesis is entitled “Te Pūtahitanga o Ngā Tai e Rua, The Meeting of Two Tides. Journeys of Mixed Heritage Māori/Pākehā towards Identity Strength”. It was submitted in March 2004. She received a grant from Te Waka Toi to prepare her manuscript on the life of Te Rauparaha for publication (2004-5) and "Ka Mate, Ka Ora - The Spirit of Te Rauparaha!" was published in 2010. In 2003 she attained an advanced certificate in Te Ara Reo Māori from Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Hēni is a member of the Kikopiri Māori Marae Committee, Ohau, Levin. She is a trustee on Jim Moriarty’s drama therapy trust Te Rākau Hua o te Wao Tapu (2002-). She is a former trustee on Bruce Stewart’s Tapu Te Ranga Marae Trust in Island Bay, Wellington (2003-4).
Hēni has written numerous articles for the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand magazine sPanz, including many relating to the Māori synod, Te Aka Puaho and others to Pacific Island and other ethnic initiatives. She has also written for the Te Puni Kokiri magazine Kokiri Paetae in 2005, for the Human Rights Commission (A monograph on the Treaty), and for a cultural consultancy company called Mauri Ora Associates.
She is contracted by Crown Forestry Rental Trust as an historian, researching and writing reports for the Waitangi Tribunal on Tararua pae maunga and Manawatu river.
She is skilled and experienced as a writer/Researcher (historical and contemporary), educator/facilitator, and organisational secretary. Her networks are predominantly amongst Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa and other iwi in the Horowhenua/Otaki/anawatu and Waikato areas.
- Interview and email correspondence with Hēni Collins on 9 Aug. 1992, 23 April, 3 May 2004, 12 Dec. 2005 and July 2022.