Saturday, August 27, 2011

Christine Cole Catley

I was told she was a publisher and writer, but it would have been more accurate to say she was a general force in New Zealand letters and society over 60-odd years. She was a down-to-earth doyenne, and most recently, a North Shore nexus. She knew everybody over three or four generations - and approved enthusiastically of most - from Douglas Lilburn to Rena Owen ("a most determined woman, very funny. I like Rena a great deal"); Janet Frame to "lovely, lovely" Ranginui Walker; Denis Glover to Kevin Milne to James K. Baxter (and his mother).

She's done too much to even start listing here but, after her death at age 88 last Sunday (writing and publishing to the last), many of her achievements have been listed elsewhere. For Cole Catley belongs to a certain category of people whom I admire enormously, and facetiously canonise into a "Renaissance Pantheon": people who have the talent, but more importantly, the curiosity and the energy to be Of-All-Trades.

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