Joy Cowley Woodturner

Famous Author Graduates in Kapiti

By Jan Lowe
1st December 2009

Woodturning Class

One of New Zealand’s most famous children’s authors has been turning her creative talents to wood at one of the Kapiti Coast’s tertiary courses.

Author Joy Cowley was among a small group of students who received their Wood Turning Certificate at a ceremony in Paraparaumu.

Although she’s the author of more than 600 books and a Distinguished Companion of the NZ Order of Merit, Ms Cowley says that it’s the first certificate she’s received for anything in all her 74 years.

It may be the first certificate, but Joy Cowley has had many other honours heaped upon her during her writing career.

Spins wool as well as yarns

And woodturning isn’t her only manual skill – she also spins wool, knits, paints and plays the piano.

The course is run in central Paraparaumu, but Joy didn’t have too far to travel.

She and her husband Terry Coles have an apartment in central Wellington and a place in Featherston as well as their cottage in the Marlborough Sounds.

She is one of the 14 students who has completed the 12 months’ certificate taught by Wood turner and tutor, Jim Lowe.

‘Outstanding’ student says tutor

Mr Lowe says she’s been an outstanding student and is planning to return to Kapiti for another course.

Each graduate completed 54 credits – covering everything from the basics of learning to use the large number of tools needed for woodturning to designing and making a free form of their choice.

There was a 100% pass rate in this year’s class.

Kapiti leads NZ in woodturning

Gavin Spence, Head of Faculty Regional Educational Programmes at Aoraki who presented the certificates, said that the standard of work was extremely high and of all the woodturning clubs throughout New Zealand, Kapiti was consistently the best.

Mr Spence thanked Jim Lowe for his inspiration and dedication and for setting such a high standard for others to follow.

Students in the course this year ranged in age from 14 to mid 70’s, with 11 men and three women graduating.

Mr Lowe spoke of the pleasure he’d had from working with the students and told them all to be proud of what they had achieved.

The National School of Woodturning delivers the year long certificate course under contract for Timaru based Aoraki Polytech.

Kapiti course one of two in world

The Kapiti course is one of only two woodturning courses in the world at this level- the other is in Germany.

Applications are now being taken for next years Woodturning Certificate. Aoraki pays the tutor fees so there are no student loans needed – just a $500 cost for materials.

If you are interested, contact


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