The team of experts at Life Stories provides advice and consultation, carries out research and in-depth interviews, and produces work of the highest quality. Team members are based in Auckland and Dunedin, but often travel to clients in other parts of New Zealand. We have a wealth of experience in producing books, Audio Life Stories and Video Life Stories. It is our belief that every person has their own unique story to tell.
Maria de Jong - Director
Maria de Jong writes and edits biographies, family and business histories. Her skills include editing, ghost-writing and teaching Memoir Writing. She is passionate about preserving history for future generations, and has a special interest in New Zealand and Pacific Island History. Maria has a Diploma in Journalism from the Auckland University of Technology and worked for the New Zealand Herald. She is a member of the New Zealand Society of Authors.
Julie Swasbrook - Design/Audio
Julie Swasbrook is skilled in the design and layout of books. She enjoys working with photographs: restoring old photos, archiving photos and documents. Julie loves family history and is a member of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists. She also enjoys building a rapport with interviewees, listening to their story, and producing audio recordings.
Maria de Jong-Oretti - Editor
Maria de Jong-Oretti has worked with Life Stories since 2014. A former English language teacher and experienced copy editor/proof reader, she has the skill set to make sure your manuscript is concise, grammatically correct, consistent and above all a pleasure to read. As a professional, respectful ‘extra pair of eyes’ she will put polish on the final draft and help your story sparkle.
Pip Mckay - Auckland
Pip McKay takes pride in the art of storytelling. In 2017, she graduated from the University of Auckland with a Masters in Creative Writing. Her debut novel, The Telling Time, was published in 2020 and embraces her love of historical fiction. Whilst her role at Life Stories means a deviation from fiction to fact, Pip loves using her creative skills to capture the essence of each unique account to craft lasting memories. Engaging with people, listening, research, and attention to detail are all integral skills that Pip brings to the role.
Ruth Nichol - Wellington
Ruth Nichol is a former journalist who has written for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Dominion, The Evening Post, The Dominion Post and the New Zealand Listener. She is a former books page editor who reads voraciously and loves stories of all kinds, whether they’re fiction or – as in the case of Life Stories – non-fiction. Ruth is also available to produce Audio Life Stories.
Rochelle Sewell - Auckland
Rochelle Sewell began her career as a Town Planner. She soon discovered her love of research and talking to people from all walks of life. She believes that there’s extraordinary in the ordinary, and that everyone has a story to tell. Rochelle’s qualifications include a BA in English and she’s authored a range of magazine articles in New Zealand and the UK. She enjoys shaping real world topics into stories and capturing the unique voice of her clients. In 2020 she published her first book, a memoir for retired athlete and policeman Ross Dallow.
Naomi Miller - Dunedin
Naomi Miller honed her writing skills reporting for 16 years at the Christchurch Press. Since returning home to Dunedin in 2012, families have commissioned her to write books that capture the voice, anecdotes, history and reflections of family members. Naomi brings a fresh approach to interviewing and writing. Her goal is to reflect the vitality, humour and heart of each person.
Founder of Life Stories
Nick Rosenberg founded Life Stories in 1995. He was a curious, warm and witty man who had respect for the narratives of other people’s lives. He brought experience, intelligence and sensitivity to each Life Stories project. Nick was famed for riding his bicycle, with his dog Heba in the handlebar bag, around the streets of Ponsonby and Parnell. He was a secondary school teacher, motorcycle rider and international traveller. Nick loved to dance and sing bass in Auckland’s Jubilation choir. Nick produced documentaries about people’s work for the New Zealand National Radio, the ABC in Australia and the BBC.
After a long battle with cancer, Nick died in August 2013. We acknowledge Nick for his creativity, talent and vision in founding Life Stories.