Valerie May Collins

Ngāti Raukawa

1920 - 1985

Valerie Collins was born in Lyall Bay, the daughter of Frederick Collins (Ngāti Raukawa) and Ada nee Burgess. She was educated at Wellington East Girls’ High School and after leaving school became a clerical worker for New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation. From 1943-45 she wrote a series of articles for the New Zealand Listener and came under the influence of Professor James Shelley who was Director of Broadcasting from Valerie was briefly employed by the Consulate General, K. A. Wodzicki, of Poland in 1945 and then worked for Howard Wadman of Ilotts Advertising. She assisted in the Wellington Diocesan Peace Thankoffering Appeal. She met and married Rev Michael Underhill in 1947. The couple moved to the north of England in late 1947 and for the next thirteen years pastored two Anglican churches and raised their children. In 1961 Valerie returned to New Zealand with her family and settled in Christchurch. Valerie was a keen mountaineer and a member of the Tararua Tramping Club in the late 1930s and ‘40s. She sang in the Royal Musical Society and was a sought out public speaker at many church gatherings. Valerie wrote poetry, short stories, non-fiction articles, journals and prayer letters. Much of her written work remains unpublished. She wrote a total of 39 Listener articles; some were unsigned, but nine were signed with her initials V. C. and V. M. C.

Biographical sources

  • Interviews with Very Rev. Michael Underhill, 1990s.


  • "Women and the Weather." New Zealand Listener n.d. No details.
  • "Beauty and the Beasts: Girls As Keepers At Wellington Zoo." New Zealand Listener 1 October [1943?]. No further details.
  • Collins interviews the two new female zoo-keepers employed by the Wellington Zoo.
  • "Animal Ambulance." New Zealand Listener 12 November [1943?]. No further details.
  • Collins describes a journey with the women driving the Animal Ambulance.
  • "Babies and Blossoms." New Zealand Listener 26 November [1943?]. No futher details.
  • Collins writes of her visit to the Residential Nursery which was founded in 1920 with the object of providing a temporary home for the young children of indisposed or pregnant mothers.
  • "An Amateur Accompanist Takes The Floor." New Zealand Listener 3 December, [1943?]. No further details.
  • An amusing article on the precarious world of the accompanist.
  • "Canadian Girls Enjoy The Outdoor Life." New Zealand Listener 7 January 1944: 16-17.
  • A discussion with Canadian Margaret Dunning on her appointment with the Y.W.C.A as a Physical and Recreational Instructor.
  • "‘Did the Hand Then Of The Potter Shake?’ Two People With a Fascinating Hobby Have An Answer to Omar." New Zealand Listener 3 March, 1944: 20.
  • Collins writes of the art work of two New Zealand potters.
  • "A Rather Remarkable Case." New Zealand Listener 17 March, 1944: 20-21.
  • A humorous article recording the writer’s varied attempts at buying a suitcase.
  • "Alarums and Excursions." New Zealand Listener 24 March, 1944: 12-13.
  • Collins writes of a complex burglar alarm devised by her brother to discourage a prowler.
  • "Brides From England." New Zealand Listener 5 May 1944: 20-21.
  • "Radio Acting Is The Hardest." New Zealand Listener 21 July 1944: 17-19.
  • Collins interviews J. C. Williamson Comedy Company members Neva Carr-Glynn, Lloyd Lamble and John Tate.
  • "In Praise of the Out-of-Doors." Church and People December 1944.
  • "Second-best Place In the World: The Polish Children Are Settling Down in Pahiatua." New Zealand Listener 27 April, 1945: 15.
  • Collins writes of her visit to the Pahiatua Polish Children’s Camp and reports on the progress of the Polish orphans and accompanying adults in settling into life in New Zealand.