Kate Duignan was born in Wellington, NZ in 1974 and has lived there for much of her life. She lived in the UK as a child and in Northern Ontario, Canada, following secondary school. She studied English and Politics at Victoria University of Wellington, graduating with First Class Honours, and worked for three years at the Department of Courts, before gaining an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction in 2000 in Bill Manhire's Creative Writing programme.
Her novel Breakwater was published in 2001 and was warmly and well received by readers and critics alike. Kate was the 2004 Burns Fellow at the University of Otago.