Six years after the loss of her 10-day-old grandson Northland woman Diana Menefy began on her journey to writing award-winning book I Had a Brother.

The story details the death of newborn baby Conner through the eyes of his big brother.

"So many families go through this grief and siblings see their parents grieving. It is difficult for a child to understand that life moves on and happiness returns. As there was nothing similar on the market, I felt there was a need for this book," Menefy said.

The book was recognised by the Storylines Notable Book List 2020, which received over 100 entries.


Retired now, Menefy was a professional author long before publishing I Had a Brother.

She began her tenure at NorthTec in July 2000 running the pilot programme for online writing papers.

Along with Janine McVeagh, creator of the original classroom programme, Menefy was instrumental in the development of NorthTec's Applied Writing programme portfolio that has been offered fully online since 2001.

"The online programme suited Northland students, most of whom lived far from a campus. Students who couldn't afford to travel could study from home or their workplace," Menefy said.

I Had a Brother tells the story of Conner whose little dies shortly after being born. Photo / Supplied
I Had a Brother tells the story of Conner whose little dies shortly after being born. Photo / Supplied

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While working part-time on the NorthTec programme, she published two non-fiction books and three novels.

Menefy stopped tutoring in 2012 and took over as programme coordinator until retiring five years ago.

After becoming the first writing programme to run a full portfolio of online courses, NorthTec offered students from all over New Zealand the opportunity to study remotely, which has become an important asset during the current pandemic, as all tertiary students moved to online studies.


Menefy, who has another novel in the works, is still recognised as one of the key drivers to successfully getting the NorthTec writing programme online.

"Without the team of specialist authors and our professional editor, the NorthTec writing programme would not have the reputation of excellence that it has achieved," she said.

To purchase I Had a Brother, visit