1. Is this new book the most political work you have done?
Absolutely. You can say all photography is political because it is an opinion. But I haven't always set out to be political. Washday at the Pa became a political football but I documented the scenes as I found it, not realising the very strong sentiments among Maori. I've always tried to see both sides of issues and be fair, but the present-day situation has now spurred me into wanting to raise my voice. I'm spurred on by what this government is doing and how greed is messing with the land.
2. You're very anti-foreign ownership of New Zealand - and yet you were a foreigner yourself. What are you angry about?
Foreigners are coming here and buying land and okay, they can't take it home, but they have lots of money and they make it impossible for the people of the land to buy. Then there is the destruction of it for so many reasons - for survival, for profit, for greed - and it's irreversible. It's permanent change. We all need to stop and think - is this really beneficial to the future?
3. Did you feel like a foreigner when you arrived in New Zealand?
My grandmother was saying to me when I came 'watch out for those Maori, they are hiding behind the trees and they will eat you'. Ha ha. When just one Maori said that I belonged, I felt at home.
4. Did you learn to speak te reo?
I learned enough to understand. I managed to dream in Maori. People were speaking in te reo and I knew what they were saying. But I'm a very visually oriented person and that's what's important to me.
5. You've spent most of your life travelling around New Zealand and photographing life, protests, people, places: did your children always come with you?
They had to grow up surrounded by me and my work. They had to follow in my wake. I gave them no alternative there. I am a dedicated artist. My son was remembering the other day having to sit in the backseat of the car while I was photographing protests about the post office closures. He was so absolutely annoyed about it and said 'I hate photography' and so on. People always ask me if my children are photographers too and they are certainly not. They are not poor artists either. They picked up on that one.
6.You must have had very lean times, raising three children as a freelance photographer?
Oh yes. It was very hard at times. One of my partners said artists shouldn't have children. Well, I left him behind. I had quality time with my kids as well and they didn't really suffer. They were never totally damaged. Ha, ha. I nearly lost the oldest boy in the surf once and the youngest was nearly drowned as well, because mummy was photographing something in the other direction. There were a couple of close shaves.
7. Did your upbringing influence that determination you've had to create your own life?
Oh, God yes. I was an only child and an only grandchild so I grew up in isolation and through a war. I worked out that my skill and my strength was visual. As an only child you learn to amuse yourself. If I was quiet and playing in a corner people would leave me alone. Kids now don't have that time so much. They sit in front of TV. They don't study things in depth, they are not given that choice.
8.What do you love most about your life now?
Having the wherewithal to travel. I always travelled around New Zealand on a shoestring budget and I still prefer to sleep in my car if possible as it gives you the freedom to move about. But now I have a camper and a toilet. Last year a couple of friends and I travelled through Europe for three months.
9.Are you still a little bit Dutch?
Oh, very strongly. When you grow old you more and more know who you are and what you are and I'm very Dutch. I still speak fluently and when I was there last year people didn't even know that I'd been away. But my family is here. I have six grandchildren - three children each with two children of their own. I have done very well.
10.Where is your favourite place in New Zealand?
I would have to say Wellington. I live in the Hutt Hills. I'm almost a neighbour to Bob Jones! It's nothing that special, a big house, though, and I recently extended with a Portacom so I now have a studio.
I have a quarter-acre which is big enough for fruit trees and a pond with goldfish and someone lives there with me in a separate flat and is supposed to look after the place when I travel. I've created that step by step and now my house is mortgage free.
11. Is there a sense of community with New Zealand's other well-known photographers?
Photographers seem to be a solitary lot. I have more artist friends. And there is competition too. I even strike that now. I won't mention the name but someone was incredibly critical of me doing the book and the design of it and he wouldn't even look at the pictures. I would call that jealousy.
12.Will you ever stop working?
If I stop I just will find my box. I'm still learning and still creating. I still have a lot to do.
• Nga Tau ki Muri, Our Future, by Ans Westra is published by Suite Publishing.