Renée (Ngāti Kahungungu) left school at age twelve and worked in a woollen mill, a printing factory, and a grocery-dairy. She then studied extramurally for a Bachelor of Arts Degree that she completed at The University of Auckland in 1979.
Renée also wrote and produced the feminist stage revues ‘Asking For It', and ‘What Did You Do In The War Mummy?' These revues toured widely throughout New Zealand in 1984 and 1985.
She is known as an accomplished playwright and novelist; her plays total 17 and she has published two novels with Huia - The Skeleton Woman (2002) and Kissing Shadows (2005).