The Boundary Riders is an invaluable body of work that traverses genres and captures the untold sto' />

Rachel Dawick isn't a historian but her new album The Boundary Riders is an invaluable body of work that traverses genres and captures the untold stories of Kiwi pioneer women.

Released on Friday, September 19 - the date women were granted the right to vote in 1893 - the double album, which is accompanied by a booklet, is a collection of musical tales about the lives of women in New Zealand in the 1800s - "from prostitutes to missionary wives, magicians to fraudsters, goldminers to washerwomen" - explains Dawick.

The idea first came to Dawick when she was busking on the streets of Scotland. Inspired by the story of the washerwomen of Glasgow Green, she returned to New Zealand in 2010 to embark on the project.

At first she tried to unearth songs written by Kiwi women but what she found surprised her. "Obviously, a number of women would've brought over songs written back in England or the different countries that they came from, but there are no recordings of any song written by women in New Zealand, except for a couple of parlour songs."


So Dawick set about collecting the information. She toured New Zealand twice; the second time on pushbike, cycling 2000km from Cape Reinga to Bluff, performing in libraries and small venues, where she invited locals to share stories.

These were eventually narrowed down to focus on just six women, which allowed Dawick to begin turning the tales into song.

"I had to get to the point where I could visualise the character. That included physically, the way they spoke and a sense of their personality, which was key. Once I had that, I quickly got a sense of the genre that they would represent."

It was an all-consuming undertaking, one that Dawick admits continually tested her.

"I'll be honest, there were times when I thought I just can't continue," she says. But now, preparing to go back on the road, she's thrilled to finally be giving these stories back to the communities they came from.

"A lot of this has been about a journey, my own connection with New Zealand in terms of history and the women who lived here and the difficulties they went through.

"These women's lives weren't documented; there are so many stories.

"I collected a lot more than what's here. I felt it was enough for one album to have six lives you could touch on.


"From here, people can go on their own journeys; it's supposed to be a beginning point."