Photo by Lori Mayger 2019
I was born in Te Awamutu, New Zealand, a small rural town in the middle of the North Island. I had an older brother, then three more boys followed. My childhood was spent in the even smaller village of Pirongia with four generations of my family living within proximity of each other. My primary school years were spent at the local school which at that time only had a handful of classrooms. For secondary schooling I went to Te Awamutu College.
An average student, according to my reports, except for commercial subjects, shorthand and typing, and sport. I was an athlete, a swimmer, played netball and tennis. And while I loved reading, devouring the Encyclopaedia Britannica where I could escape to far-away exotic lands, attempts to make me write my own stories, failed. I was told from a very young age, I could tell a good story, and growing up in a time when children where asked to be seen not heard, was enough.
In 1971 I moved to Melbourne, Australia, to escape what I considered the claustrophobic environment of having too many extended family members around me. Soon after arriving in Melbourne I met my husband to be Steve (don’t call me Stephen) Morris and we married in 1973.
In 1975 Steve and I returned to New Zealand, living in Christchurch, South Island, a reasonable distance from my hometown and family in the North Island.
Our first son was born in 1976, another son in 1980 and our daughter in 1985.
Waking up one morning I realised I had missed out on something – the extended education I secretly craved that was not offered when I left school. I commenced a B.A. degree at Canterbury University (NZ) in 1986 before moving back to Melbourne in 1987. After a year settling our family into a much bigger city, I enrolled and completed my B.A. at Monash University in 1991. I majored in Political Science.
In 1995 I began work in the Social Work Department at Monash Medical Centre in Melbourne where I stayed until 2017.
During this period, I watched our three children grow into amazing adults. I was involved in their sport and at the age of forty-five became a competitive Veteran athlete, primarily taking part in the various ‘throwing’ competitions. Shot-put, discus, javelin and my favourite, hammer throwing. I never stopped telling stories, or as my husband called them – long-winded tales.
In 1996 I decided to follow my passion for storytelling and enrolled in The Professional Scriptwriting Course through the Australian College of Journalism.
I went on to attend many screenwriting courses, seminars and workshops in both Australia and the U.S. My workplace provided me with a wealth of heroic storylines, several of which I adapted into screenplays that now line the bottom drawer of my desk.
And then I met Lale Sokolov.
Find out more about Heather’s friendship with Lale Sokolov, The Tattooist of Auschwitz-Birkenau, and read more about Heather’s journey in Stories of Hope.