Matt Elliott – an award-winning and best-selling author of books for adults and children
I was educated at Mt. Carmel primary school, Meadowbank, and then St. Peter’s College, Auckland. Alongside a brief, incomplete stint at university I pursued a career as a stand-up comedian beginning on the embryonic local scene in 1989. I moved to Melbourne in 1993 working the pro-circuit there – the first Kiwi comedian to do so – in the company of some great comedians, famous and non. Returning home 18 months later, I continued performing around the country but with one eye on more serious writing. My history of New Zealand comedy followed along with writing film reviews for the marvellous but sadly defunct Quote/Unquote magazine. In 1996 National Radio produced my children’s story Young Horace and Oscar’s Trick. Read by Ian Watkin, it was still being broadcast years later.
After a couple of years living in Ireland, I formulated and taught a Comedy Writing course in Christchurch which morphed into The Ministry of Chocolate Fisheries radio shows. Through the early 2000s I was based in Wellington performing in local venues and appearing in Fringe and Comedy festivals. For two years I had a weekly comedy show on Access Radio which made use of my large comedy album collection as well as interviewing visiting comedians and promoting local comedy. This also gave me the opportunity to write and produce several hour-long documentaries on the likes of Lenny Bruce and American Civil Rights comedy.
You can see me in several scenes of Peter Jackson’s King Kong (if you know where to look, freeze-frame and enlarge the bystanders) and I have appeared in TV shows such as New Zealand’s Top 100 History Makers, History Under the Hammer, Funny As and documentaries produced overseas on the life of Dave Gallaher.
Being made redundant during the GFC from a position as a legal researcher at a large New Zealand law firm, I took the leap into becoming a full-time author.
I contributed a chapter on NZ comedy to Glory Days: from gumboots to platforms by Ian Chapman/Dr. Glam. HarperCollins, 2009. ISBN: 9781869507282 and a page on growing hops for Steve Hale’s The Kiwi Man Cave Manual. David Bateman, 2016. ISBN: 9781869539528.
There is a profile of me (alongside some real fishermen!) for The Kiwi Fisherman’s Guide to Life by Mike Rendle and Ian Chapman. HarperCollins, 2012. ISBN: 9781869508975
I’ve reviewed books for The Press newspaper from 1997 – 2012 and North and South magazine since 2010. Recent contributions to other periodicals include New Zealand Memories (#115, #119, #124, #127, #140), takahe poetry journal (#87), the Phantom Billstickers Poetry on the Streets project and AudioCulture, ‘the noisy library of New Zealand music’: NZ musical comedy Flight of the Conchords Fred Dagg Billy T James Kids of 88
I subscribe to the satirical English magazine Private Eye, read music mags Mojo and Uncut. The last few books I have read are: Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly, National Gallery of Australia; Erebus – the story of a ship, Michael Palin; Naked at the Albert Hall: the inside story of singing, Tracey Thorn; The Dry, Jane Harper; Poenamo revisited: a facsimile of John Logan Campbell’s 1898 edition with essay and notes by Professor Russell Stone; Classic scrapes, James Acaster; No friend but the mountains: writing from Manus prison, Behrouz Boochani.
Recently I have been working on a local history project providing teaching resources and heritage strawberry plants for my local Birkdale schools to educate children on historical suburban environments. This rugby season I helped coach the Birkenhead College Fifth Grade (Open Weight) rugby team. A great bunch of young men, who won the ‘B’ Grade, defeating TGS in the final.
In June 2019 I became a parent-elected member of the Birkdale North Primary School Board of Trustees.
Author visits, festival appearances, talks etc: Sacred Heart College, Auckland; St. Peter’s College, Auckland; Kristin Middle School, Albany (2012, 2016, 2018); St. Joseph’s Catholic School, Pukekohe; Takapuna Scouts; Sancta Maria College, Botany; Birkenhead Public Library; Auckland Heritage Festival (2012, 2016, 2019); Gisborne Boys’ High School; Campion College, Gisborne; Ilminster Intermediate, Gisborne; Stanley Ave School, Te Aroha; Auckland Writers and Readers Festival Schools’ Programme, 2013; Birkenhead College (2010, 2018); 20th Australasian Humour Studies Network Colloquim (hosted by Victoria University), 2014; Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival, 2014; Kelston Boys’ High School, Auckland; World War One Book Club, NZ Book Council event, Wellington; Speed Date an Author, NZ Book Council schools’ event, National Library, Auckland; Bookclub 119, Book Discussion Scheme; Silverdale Normal School, Hamilton (2015, 2016, 2017, 2019); MC, 2016 New Zealand Book Industry Awards; 2016 NZ Defence Force Rugby Tournament, Linton Army Camp; Glenfield Library Messines Centenary talk; Dom Polski, Auckland Polish Society; Polish Settlers Museum, Howick; East Coast Bays’ library Tea and Talks; Beach Haven Kindergarten; Verran Primary; Anzac Day service address, Birkenhead RSA, 2019; Windwhistle Ladies Dinner Group, Terrace Downs; Birkdale North Primary Book Week; Belmont Intermediate #ForTheLoveofReading week; Knighton Normal Primary School, Hamilton;
Kathrin Simon’s FADE. Photographic exhibition of historic Hokianga churches. TSB Wallace Arts Centre Pah Homestead, Auckland Art Week; No 1 Parnell gallery, Rawene; Whangarei Art Museum; Depot Artspace, Devonport. Also featured in Art New Zealand Number 160, Summer 2016-17.