Behind the scenes
Kerry Sunderland
Kerry Sunderland is a writer, editor and published author who has, since the death of her 48-year-old husband Steve, trained as a ‘Deathwalker’ and made it her mission to improve her own ‘death literacy’ and to support others to do the same.
In 2014, Kerry undertook the Natural Death Care Centre of Australia’s Deathwalker Training programme and, in early 2016, brought NDCC founder Zenith Virago to New Zealand to conduct the first Deathwalker Training programme in Aotearoa.

She has written widely about her experience, for publications including Turbine Kapohau and NZ Yoga Scene, as well as her first memoir, Beyond the Blue Door, and an essay titled ‘Scared to Death’, which was published in Headlands: New Stories of Anxiety (VUP 2018). ‘Scared to Death’ is currently being adapted for the screen by producer David Jacobs and director Mia Maramara.

Kerry is now writing her second memoir, which is the story of why and how she became a deathwalker.

Meanwhile, she has worked as a freelance journalist since the late 90s. Her words have been published in New Zealand GeographicNZ ListenerNorth & SouthThe SpinoffStuff/Nelson Mail and the Byron Echo.

Her broadcast radio experience includes being a guest presenter on Triple R FM in Melbourne in the mid-90s, reviewing films for ABC Northcoast in 2011 and producing and/or hosting several shows for Fresh FM between 2015 to 2020.

Kerry has also been the curator of the Nelson Arts Festival’s literary programme since 2018. This has included facilitating end-of-life conversations, including a session titled ‘Rethinking Death and Dying’, which you can listen to below.