About Marilyn Garson


I grew up in Halifax, Canada, the youngest of four sisters. I studied political science and philosophy at the University of Toronto, and later added a Masters in International Development. A few weeks before I was due to enter law school, I discovered the backpack and absconded.

I traveled for several years, immigrated to the Hokianga, and opened a weaving business. As neoliberalism hit the Far North hard in the early 1990s, I made my creative protest by supporting other small businesses.

In 1998, I began to create jobs in communities affected by war; by launching locally owned social enterprises or working with small businesses. I worked with former child combatants and Cambodians with disabilities (1998 – 2001), imported global handmade goods as the founding director of Worldstock.com (2001 – 2003), worked with Afghan family businesses and led an enterprise that employed at women at home in Afghanistan and Pakistan (2005 – 2010).

In 2011, I received an unsolicited offer to work and live in the Gaza Strip. Gaza overturned much of what I thought I knew about conflict and aid, about Palestine and justice. As a Jew, Gaza made me dig deep into the content of my own beliefs. Still Lives – a memoir of Gaza tells the story of those four years, two wars, and one very unlikely social enterprise.

Since returning to New Zealand in late 2015, I have spoken locally and written internationally about Palestine and Jewish dissent. I wrote Still Lives – a memoir of Gaza to add adjectives to our narrow public image of the community of Gaza: educated, ambitious, and audaciously human behind a blockade wall.

I live in Wellington and Hokianga, usually with a pen in one hand and a ball of wool in the other.


Do you have a writers’ event coming up, or a discussion relevant to these themes?

Please get in touch at memoir@marilyngarson.com