When Anna Keir and I were organising a women writers evening for the Women’s Gallery Opening Show in January 1980, Patricia Grace suggested that we invite J. C. Sturm, someone we knew as Jacquie Baxter (1927–2009), the formidable librarian in the New Zealand Room at the Wellington Public Library, just across Harris Street from the gallery (and where we used to do our photocopying).
And when Kanya Stewart and Nancy Peterson from the Auckland Women’s Community Video documented the Opening Show, they filmed Jacquie and Heather McPherson and Patricia and Keri Hulme reading and being interviewed.
Spiral Collectives associated with the gallery later became publishers-of-last-resort for Heather’s A Figurehead: A Face (1982); and then — supported by eclectic funding sources, including some from Patricia’s and Roma Potiki’s Māori Writers Read series — Jacquie’s The House of the Talking Cat (1983); and Keri’s the bone people (1984).
The House of the Talking Cat was launched somewhere up some stairs in Courtenay Place, Wellington. I don’t remember the launch well, but just beforehand we received this letter.
In 1986, Jacquie travelled to Oslo with a Spiral group, to attend the 2d International Feminist Book Fair.
The group went on to the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm, to see a kaitaka and other Māori art.
Only Jacquie’s and Heather’s interviews survive from 1980; in 2018 the Alexander Turnbull Library digitised them and Annie Mein ‘tidied’ them for screenings at Mokopōpaki’s shop front tiny cinema during This Joyous, Chaotic Place: He Waiata Tangi-ā-Tahu, along with the footage of Keri reading and Jacquie reading one of her stories.
Jacquie’s interview, filmed by Kanya — also editor of the ground-breaking Women series (1977) and director of Even Dogs Are Given Bones (1982) about the women’s occupation of the Rixen clothing factory in Levin — isn’t in great condition; and the background sounds came from who-knows-where, not the gallery at the time or our edit: we couldn’t get rid of them. If we’d had more time, we’d have edited out most of the interviewer, too.
— Marian Evans