Lynda Chanwai-Earle is a fourth-generation Chinese New Zealander. Born in London in 1965 she spent her early childhood in Papua New Guinea before completing her education in New Zealand. She studied creative writing with Albert Wendt and graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1990 and a Diploma in Drama, 1994. Lynda also graduated with a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing at Victoria University’s International Institute of Modern Letters in 2006.
Lynda is a poet, filmmaker, playwright and actor. Her poems have been published widely in journals and anthologies and a collection Honeypants (Auckland University Press) was published in 1994. Lynda toured with Te Rakau Hua O Te Wao Tapu to prisons, marae and schools from 1995 to 1999, and has been involved as a script coordinator and performer for dramas created by women in prison. Lynda co-wrote and art-directed Chinese Whispers a short film with MAP Productions 1996, and co-directed the short film After with Simon Raby in 2003. She has also worked as a journalist for the television programme Asia Down Under (TVNZ Channel One).
Lynda’s groundbreaking one-woman play Ka-Shue (Letters Home) toured to Ireland in 1997 and Hawaii in 2004. Semi-autobiographical, Ka-Shue was the first authentically New Zealand–Chinese play for mainstream audiences. Her play Monkey premiered at the 2004 NZ International Festival of the Arts and toured as part of Capital E National Theatre for Children’s programme.
Lynda represented New Zealand at the inaugural Hong Kong Literary Festival in 2001, the 2002 Philippines Asia–Pacific Poetry Conference, was Trans-Tasman writer at the 2003 Queensland Poetry Festival and attended the Shanghai Literary Festival in 2005 as guest writer. Lynda currently lives in Wellington, New Zealand.
Lynda’s play HEAT, set in Antarctica, premiered with the STAB Festival in 2008. HEAT was the first theatre piece in New Zealand to perform off-the-grid (powered by solar panels and wind turbine) and toured to major arts festivals around the country during 2010-2011. Man in a Suitcase (about the real life murder of a Chinese student) was an international collaboration between The Court Theatre, Christchurch and Peking University. Man in a Suitcase premiered at The Court Theatre in 2012 and toured to The Haidian Theatre in Beijing China, where the season was censored and shutdown. In November 2015 Lynda was inaugural NZ writer in resident at Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, where she began work on two new plays.
Based in Wellington, Lynda is a full-time Features Producer at Radio New Zealand, creating the weekly Voices programme and other documentaries.