Ruth J. Hera Lee

1929 -

Ruth Lee attended Elam School of Art and Auckland Teachers’ College. She has worked as a primary school teacher for over thirty years and has art work in the Thames Public Hospital and in a church in Tairua. She is married with two sons. Lee won Section 1 on Māoritanga in the literary competition sponsored by Te Māori at the Wairoa Māori Artists and Writers’ Conference held at Takitimu Marae in 1974, for her poem “Rongomai Wahine”.

Biographical sources

  • "Rongomai Wahine Ancestral Womb Emptied, Deserted, Cold" [first line]. Te Māori 6.6 (1974): 11.
  • The World Through Children’s Eyes. Tauranga, N.Z.: Tauranga Moana, 1985.


  • "Statistics." Marae Magazine 1.3 (1974): 11-13.
  • A story chronicling Rangi’s gradual demise with cancer.
  • Non-fiction

  • The World through Children’s Eyes: The Lively Language of Children’s Art and how it is Achieved. Tauranga, N.Z.: Tauranga Moana, 1985.
  • A discussion on the potential role of art in the education of primary school children. Lee provides guidelines on how to direct children’s art work without controlling their creativity and presents a developmental study of children’s coordination skills.
  • Poetry

  • "Rongomai Wahine Ancestral Womb Emptied, Deserted, Cold" [first line]. Te Māori 6.6 (1974): 11.
  • The speaker writes of the meeting house Rongomai Wahine standing ‘emptied, deserted, cold’ and of a momentary lapse of kawa which had to be remedied before the people could ‘return to her womb secure, snug, warm.’ This was the prize winning poem in the Te Māori literary competition at the Wairoa Māori Artists and Writers Conference in 1974.
  • "The Misfortune of Youthful Experience in Today’s Society." Te Māori 6.6 (1974): 36.
  • The poet writes in a free narrative style of the unfortunate experience of a young Māori man who is charged with disorderly behaviour after a drinking binge. Lee portrays his loneliness and humiliation, and highlights the harshness of an unsympathetic legal system.
  • "Koroua." Koru: The New Zealand Māori Artists and Writers’ Annual Magazine 1 (1976). n.pag.
  • The speaker urges young people to hear the wisdom of an old koroua’s words.