Bernadette Hall

ANZL Member

Photo credit: John R Hall


Born in Central Otago in 1945, Bernadette Hall describes herself as a ‘peace baby’. Although she did not become an author until in her 40s, Bernadette has since published eleven poetry collections and edited several. Her work has been widely anthologised nationally and internationally, including eight times in Best New Zealand Poems. Most recently  ‘The Perfumes of Arabia’ (Catalyst, 2016) was selected by Jenny Bornholt as one of the Best New Zealand Poems of 2016. Amongst her extensive accolades, The Press honoured Bernadette for her lasting contribution to literature in the South Island (2003), and she was the recipient of the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement (2015). Influenced by her Irish parents, the resonances of divided loyalty are a continuing theme in her writing. Ron Riddell (NZ Listener) described her voice as ‘quintessentially a South Island one: rooted in river, plain and mountain, with an open, wide-ranging world view that is both compassionate and empathetic’. In 2017, Bernadette was admitted to The New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Literature.

Bernadette has attended numerous festivals and been Writer-in-Residence at Victoria University (2006), and at Rathcoola in County Cork, Ireland (2007). In 2011, she taught at the Institute of Modern Letters at Post-Graduate level. In 2008, Bernadette co-founded The Hagley Writers’ Institute. It continues to flourish under Director, Morrin Rout, and Bernadette is now its Patron.

An Artists in Antarctica Award (2004), shared with friend and collaborator Dunedin artist, Kathryn Madill, resulted in Bernadette’s seventh poetry collection The Ponies (VUP, 2007).  An extract from this is to be displayed near Scott’s statue on a Literary Trail, part of Te Papa Otakao / the Avon River Precinct.  One poem was dramatised for TV One’s Artsville programme. Chris Archer, a Christchurch composer, turned another into a choral work.

Maukatere: Floating Mountain (Seraph Press, 2016) is a limited edition of 170 signed copies, hand-stitched and with original drawings by the Wellington artist, Rachel O’Neill.

Bernadette describes her most recent collection Fancy Dancing (Victoria UP, 2020) as being ‘as close as I’ll ever get to writing an autobiography’.


Bernadette in Antarctica on her 59th birthday. Photo credit: David Trubridge

Bernadette in Antarctica on her 59th birthday. Photo credit: David Trubridge.



Read NZ Te Pou Muramura writer page

Victoria University Press author page


ANZL review of Fancy Dancing (Dec, 2020)

NZ Poet Laureate blog: poems from Fancy Dancing (July, 2020)

Seraph Press interview with Bernadette Hall (June, 2016)

NZ Poetry Shelf review of Maukatere, floating mountain (June, 2016)

Bernadette’s Tapa Notebook online

Best NZ Poems online

New releases by Bernadette Hall

Fancy Dancing: New and Selected Poems 2004–2020 (poetry)

Published by Victoria University Press on November 12, 2020

Bibliography: Bernadette Hall




Fancy Dancing: New and Selected Poems 2004–2020 (Victoria UP, 2020)

Maukatere: Floating Mountain (Seraph Press, 2016)

Life & Customs (Victoria UP, 2013)

The Lustre Jug  (Victoria UP, 2009)

The Ponies  (Victoria UP, 2007)

The Way of the Cross (sculptures by Llew Summers: The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Charitable Trust, 2006)

The Merino Princess (Victoria UP, 2004)

Settler Dreaming  (Victoria UP, 2001)

Still Talking  (Victoria UP, 1997)

The Persistent Levitator  (Victoria UP, 1994)

Of elephants etc  (Untold Press, 1991)

Heartwood (Caxton Press, 1989)




‘Actaeon’ Best New Zealand Poems  (Victoria UP, 2015)

‘In Search of Happiness’ Best New Zealand Poems  (Victoria UP, 2013)

20 Contemporary New Zealand Poets (ed. Andrew Johnston and Robyn Marsack: Victoria UP; Carcanet, UK, 2009)

‘The Fox’ Best New Zealand Poems  (Victoria UP, 2009)

‘Leda at the Billabong’ Best New Zealand Poems  (Victoria UP, 2008)

‘Under Erebus’ Best New Zealand Poems  (Victoria UP, 2007)

‘The White Dress’ Best New Zealand Poems  (Victoria UP, 2006)

‘The History of Europe’ Best New Zealand Poems  (Victoria UP, 2005)

‘The Lay Sister’ Best New Zealand Poems  (Victoria UP, 2001)





'Many of our best stories profit from a meeting of New Zealand and overseas influences' - Owen Marshall

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