Renée was born in Napier and attended school up till the age of thirteen when she began working in the woollen mills at Pandora Point and later at a printing company. At the age of thirty-eight she began an extra-mural arts degree through Massey University and graduated with a B.A. from Auckland University in 1979. She has written plays, novels, short stories, television scripts, works for radio and has worked as a journalist and script assessor.
Renée has conducted many writing workshops. From 1982-2003 she was creator, director and tutor of Your Life, Your Story for WEA and the Cancer Society annual workshops. She has taught drama at the University of Otago Drama Department and has also taught drama and fiction writing at the University Extension Creative Writing School in Dunedin. She has lectured in the use of history in drama, New Zealand drama, writing for the theatre, and assessing creativity.
In 2004 she was a tutor for Whitireia Community Polytechnic Graduate Diploma Writing and for a Huia Publishers Writing Workshop at Hongoeka Marae. She continued tutoring the Your Life, Your Story workshops for Cancer Society and was a member of Te Ha’s ‘On the Bus’ reading tour.
Renée has received various awards and grants for her writing including the NZ Literary Fund Merit Award in 1986, the University of Otago’s Robert Burns Fellowship in1989, Scholarship in Letters from QEII Arts Council in 1993, University of Waikato’s Writer’s Fellowship in 1995, and various Creative New Zealand and QEII Arts Council grants to assist in the writing of new work.
Renée is a member of the NZ Book Council, has been a member of the Broadsheet Collective, a member of PEN Otago/Southland and has been Programme Director and Vice President of the Globe Theatre in Dunedin.
She has been a featured speaker at Literary Festivals including keynote speaker at the First International Women Playwrights Conference in Buffalo, New York in 1988, Keynote Speaker at the 3rd International Women Playwrights Conference in Adelaide, Australia in 1995 and she was a member of Words On Wheels (WOW) Tour for the NZ Book Council in 1992
Renée has published non-fiction articles and reviews in various newspapers and journals including Free Lance, The Mirror, and Hawkes Bay Herald Tribune. She also wrote a weekly column in a Wairoa paper for eighteen months. Renée has written episodes for Open House and for Country GP and writes book reviews. She has written seven novels, two children’s books, one text-book on writing plays and one collection of comic writing.
In 2002 Renée attended Nga Pukenga Tuhi – a fiction writing workshop - held at Hongoeka Marae and Diving into the Deep – a workshop for experienced writers held in Coromandel. Other workshops she’s participated in are Between One Breath and the Next, The Valiant Voice, Daffydowndilly ’98 (for the Cancer Society), I was there (workshops on writing Memoirs), and workshops with WEA, Continuing Education, Te Waka Toi, Wanaka Autumn Arts School, and Otago University Summer School as a tutor.
- Correspondence with Renée, 19 Aug. 1998 and 13 August 2004.
- Te Ha questionnaire, 1992.
- Wahine Kaituhu Women Writers of Aotearoa
- McCurdy, Claire-Louise. "Feminist Writer Renée: All Plays Are Political." Women's Studies Journal 1.2 (Apr. 1985): 61-72.