Whanganui artist Mina Bourke has been writing down stories from her eventful life for almost 30 years and now she has compiled them into a book.

Next month she will launch Going Over Va Top (G.O.V.T) - a candid, open-hearted book that tells fascinating stories of Bourke's Māori whakapapa which includes a pioneering pilot and a doctor who served in Antarctica as well as her Pakeha and Polish ancestry.

"I am proud to be Māori and proud of that side of my ancestry but I have other lineages as well.

"I want to acknowledge all the people who are part of my story and that is what started me writing."


Bourke is completing an arts degree at Massey University and preparing for an exhibition alongside finishing the final editing of her book.

"I'm a chef, I've been a probation officer, I have battled injustice and I've battled addiction.

"Becoming a full-time artist at this time in my life has been amazing and I think it has helped give me the energy to finish the book."

Bourke has contracted H&A Print to produce 150 copies of the book ahead of the launch on November 24.

"I've already got some orders and after the launch I will have more printed in response to demand.

"I have had amazing support from people in writing this book and I'm especially grateful to Laraine Sole for her mentorship."

Sole, author of historic books on Upokongaro, Aramoho and the early hotels of Whanganui and Patea, said Bourke's family histories are fascinating.

"I think people will really enjoy reading about them," Sole said.


Bourke says there are many people to thank and she credits them in her kei te mihi/foreword in her book.

Well known Whanganui and iwi identity Ken Mair encouraged her to write the book.

"He advised me to write a book from a Māori woman's perspective.

"I was very shy back then, vulnerable and at times unsure of myself and his words gave me confidence."

Her confidence has enabled her to complete the book and she will open her solo exhibition Nau Mai Haere Mai - The Interwoven Connection at the Edith Gallery on October 29.