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Peter Farrell: New Zealand Writer



The Lie That Settles was launched at Unity Books Wellington on 19 September 2013.

Dame Fiona Kidman, Linda Niccol and me at the launch.

I am very grateful to Unity Books, Gladstone Vineyard and the 200 or so guests who attended. We sold out of stock at Unity on the night.

See also the following links:

Unity Books:

Beatties Book Blog

Mission Hall


The Lie That Settles is available in New Zealand bookstores. RRP is $NZ35.00 inc gst.

New Zealand readers

can order direct from me ($25 inc postage) [email protected]

Overseas readers ($NZ 25 plus postage)


A second edition of the book is now available worldwide on under our new publishing brand Petone Publishing. See

NEW ZEALAND MEMORIES Issue 130 February/March 2018

The leading article "Assisted Immigration: Arriving in National Park, 1965" is an edited extract from The Lie That Settles


Enthusiastic pre publication reviews from established and respected NZ writers are already on the book's website

Links to reviews in the Dominion Post Magazine, Radio NZ Nine to Noon, TV 3 First Line, Radio NZ Upbeat and Massey University and Beattie's Book Blog are also all available on the book's website. The most in depth review to date came in the Summer edition of the quarterly literary magazine NZ Books. In Jane Westaway's review of three memoirs The Lie That Settles is included with Lloyd Jones' The History of Silence and Jeffrey Holman's The Lost Pilot. She compares the three approaches to memoir and describes The Lie That Settles as " a deeply humane account. At the same time it is a loving, respectful portrait of his mother (to whom it is dedicated), it refuses to condemn his father. What drives Farrell is the longing to connect. He astutely avoids sentimentality and judgement." This a clear headed and positive review of the book from a respected reviewer. I feel privileged to be examined alongside such well established authors.

The early response from overseas readers has been very encouraging. People seem to relate warmly to different sections of the book - whether it be my mother's story, Red Hill School, prisons, immigration or the search for family. Response from immediate family on my father's side was initially enthusiastic. However, they now believe the book does not reflect their perspective on some events and people. I have agreed to withdraw some family photographs from the second edition.

Most gratifying of all, I have already received a number of separate emails from ex Red Hill boys paying tribute to my mother's role in their lives. This one from Stuart Wilshaw encapsulates those responses:

"When I heard Peter was publishing a memoir I said that I would be happy to write a review; well it would be easy, I write myself and have no difficulty in sitting down and running off a few hundred words so it was going to be a breeze.

Or so I thought, now this is the easy bit. Peter has written a lucid and absorbing memoir. It is clear and to the point; free of the valedictory tone, the self justification that marks so many autobiographical works. It is honest and pulls no punches and the writing carries you along with the narrative.

Now the bit that I found not at all easy; I have to declare an interest here, I am an old Red Hillian, a former pupil of the school where Peter grew up and where his mother was matron. I knew MOF and saw Peter several times in the early 1960s although I doubt he remembers me, he was working and living away from RHS, I was barely into my teens.

It hadn’t occurred to me that having been there for a brief moment in Peter’s tale and having known some of the people involved would make writing about it so difficult. It did, it has, and I can only hope that these few words do the book some justice. The temptation was to write a memoir of my own but this is Peter’s tale not mine.

When the book arrived I read it through in one sitting and I'm not ashamed to admit that in places it moved me to tears. It brought back many memories; it made people I thought I had known live again and in the case of MOF showed me what a truly remarkable woman she was. We were a strange community and I have come to realise that we were in many ways boys and staff (the ones who lasted) kindred spirits.

I owe a great debt to MOF and the others, a debt that can never be paid. I am indebted to Peter for making the past live again and for shining a light on things that we were unaware of at the time. This book is more than a memoir; it is a tribute to a remarkable woman, Marion O’Farrell; it is a contribution to the history of a great school and a contribution to the social history of the times both MOFs and Peters."