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Auckland Writers Festival is New Zealand’s premiere festival of books and ideas, delivering a vibrant programme of events each May. The world’s writers and thinkers explore ideas, share stories, debate issues, perform, entertain crowds and generate brilliant conversations about fiction, non-fiction, science, economics, politics, music, the media, film, art, history, poetry, religion and much more Subscribe to this channel for exclusive talks from some of our biggest events.
 
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What is the job of a Poet Laureate, and is it more complicated for those that “walk in and out of several worlds each day” as the United States’ Laureate of Native American descent Joy Harjo so eloquently puts it? Aotearoa’s first Pasifika Poet Laureate, Selina Tusitala Marsh, joins the current and second Pasifika writer to hold the tokotoko, David…
 
After fleeing from Iran in 2013, Kurdish-Iranian journalist Behrouz Boochani became a political prisoner, detained indefinitely in legal limbo in the Australian-run Manus Regional Processing Centre, Papua New Guinea. On a smuggled mobile phone, he chronicled six years of survival and witness, tapped out in Farsi in a series of single messages, and …
 
Every biographical portrait is a singular take on its subject, and Ockham NZ Book Award shortlisted 'Ralph Hotere: The Dark Is Light Enough' is writer Vincent O’Sullivan’s unique homage to his friend and fellow cultural traveller Ralph Hotere (Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa). Written at the invitation of the artist and crafted through personal conversations…
 
Oceanic women have always been creators – weaving lives into pandanus mats, printing knowledge onto masi and tapa, bearing tatau memory on skin, weaving words in boundless talanoa. A triumph of preeminent Pasifika women – Ockham NZ Book Awards winner Tusiata Avia ('The Savage Coloniser Book'), Selina Tusitala Marsh ('Mophead Tu') and Ockham longlis…
 
THE UNIVERSITY OF AUCKLAND FREE LECTURETwenty-two years ago the Auckland Writers Festival burst into literary life, propelled by the ambitious advocacy of writers Stephanie Johnson and the late Peter Wells who wanted to showcase our talent to our people. Johnson takes stock of how the New Zealand literary landscape has changed across the era. Have …
 
A heartfelt artistic collaboration, The 33, brings together award-winning poet Anne Kennedy and leading New Zealand pianist and Juilliard graduate Sarah Watkins in a tribute to life, grief, writing and music. In 1973, after the death of her brother Philip, the then 14-year-old Kennedy consoled herself lying on a red rug in the family living room li…
 
Ordinary men living through extraordinary times, New Zealand soldiers Harold Robinson, Ralph Dyer and Douglas Morison shared a queer identity and a love of performance, living as gay men within the military forces during World War II, and boosting troop morale as female impersonators in wartime concert parties. In the Ockham NZ Book Awards longlist…
 
Many ancestral currents, past and present, carried Pasifika peoples from Te-Moana-Nui-a-Kiwa to Aotearoa. Whilst each Pacific identity is unique, experiences of migration, colonialism, and courage are shared, and vividly expressed in a thriving performance scene. Pasifika playwrights Oscar Kightley and Victor Rodger are just two of the many whose w…
 
Lawyer and writer Brannavan Gnanalingam is the author of the Ockham NZ Book Awards shortlisted 'Sprigs', a searing interrogation of sexual assault and masculinity. He argues that current cultural norms about being male come at others’ expense, and men must urgently find a new approach. Introduced by Christine O'Brien.AUCKLAND WRITERS FESTIVAL WAITU…
 
In the Ockham NZ Book Awards shortlisted 'This Pākehā Life: An Unsettled Memoir', Alison Jones contests that being Pākehā requires us to live in a state of “permanently lively discomfort with no single resolution...”, a challenge both difficult and wonderful. She puts her case. Introduced by Christine O'Brien.AUCKLAND WRITERS FESTIVAL WAITUHI O TĀM…
 
An exceptional evening performance brings together celebrated writers and taonga pūoro practitioners in a lyrical weaving of language and song. Arihia Latham, Anahera Gildea, Becky Manawatu, essa may ranapiri and Tusiata Avia take you on a journey of sound and words, from the distant past to the distant future. Featuring live taonga pūoro from comp…
 
Writing an honest and deeply personal memoir takes a certain degree of courage, and the journey can be fraught. In Lil O’Brien’s 'Not That I’d Kiss a Girl', she movingly recounts the fallout from her parents’ accidental discovery of her sexual orientation; literary star Charlotte Grimshaw embarks on a search for familial truth and a parental accoun…
 
“A lyrical love letter to the land” is how reviewer Linda Burgess describes Manawatu farmer, poet and performer Tim Saunders’ debut memoir 'This Farming Life'. Further south in Central Otago, novelist, memoirist, poet and essayist Jillian Sullivan walks the hills and mountains of the Ida Valley that surround her home, conjuring her perceptive essay…
 
Walking can be both a physical and a mental undertaking – a time for gathering thoughts and centering ourselves. For Catharina van Bohemen, her 1998 Camino de Santiago journey, so beautifully depicted in the Ockham NZ Book Awards longlisted 'Towards Compostela: Walking the Camino de Santiago', is a pilgrimage away from a crisis in her marriage towa…
 
MICHAEL KING MEMORIAL LECTUREAUCKLAND WRITERS FESTIVAL WAITUHI O TĀMAKI 2021Can we blame Cook for everything that followed? Is it the fault of the Englishman who met his early end in 1779 that Māori are statistically likely to meet an early end in 21st century New Zealand? This is not a biographical or historical lecture about Captain James Cook; n…
 
Helen Kelly lived and died a fighter. The daughter of prominent unionist Pat Kelly and Vietnam activist Catherine Eichelbaum, Kelly was destined for a life of political engagement. She held senior positions in a labour movement that was dominated by men, including serving as the president of the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions for many years. D…
 
The first essay of filmmaker Ghazaleh Golbakhsh’s collection, 'The Girl From Revolution Road', transports readers to her childhood in Iran and an illicit party where family and friends are drinking and dancing to the Bee Gees before being swooped upon by armed police, detained and, for her father, sentenced to 60 lashes. It’s a collection juxtaposi…
 
A highlight of 2020 was the publication of 'How to Be Happy Though Human', a collection of new and previous work by virtuoso poet Kate Camp, which was published in New Zealand, the United States and Canada. Admired by Poet Laureate Dave Eggleton for its “smouldering slow burn, curdled idealism, the salvation army assembly of humorous perceptions” i…
 
Kaituhi Michelle Rahurahu (Ngāti Rahurahu, Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa) argues that story sovereignty, especially for Māori, cannot be maintained by outsider perspectives which use historical rhetoric to solidify harmful stereotypes about Māori lives in the minds of everyday readers. Introduced by Christine O’Brien.AUCKLAND WRITERS FESTIVAL WAITUHI O TĀ…
 
Three exceptional writers join chair Paula Morris on screen, for a live-in venue audience, to talk about and read from their latest work and answer your questions. Today’s line-up includes Irish actor and memoirist Gabriel Byrne with 'Walking With Ghosts'; Melbourne-based Māori crime writer JP Pomare with latest thriller 'Tell Me Lies'; and the Lon…
 
Three exceptional writers join consummate chair Paula Morris on screen, for a live-in-venue audience, to talk about and read from their latest work and answer your questions.Today’s line-up includes expat Miro Bilbrough with her memoir of a 1970s childhood in a Marlborough Sounds commune 'In The Time of the Manaroans'; US fiction doyenne Marilynne …
 
Three exceptional writers join consummate chair Paula Morris on screen, for a live-in-venue audience, to talk about and read from their latest work and answer your questions. Today’s line-up includes Chilean literary legend Isabel Allende with 'The Soul of a Woman', a meditation on power and feminism; UK-based Ockham NZ Book Awards shortlisted poet…
 
From Pop-art influences to landscape, through advertising and the contested area of Appropriation, much-loved and truly versatile artist Dick Frizzell has always immersed himself in the art around him. In 'Me, According To The History of Art, a journey from cave art through Rubens and Tintoretto to Cezanne and Lichtenstein', Frizzell sets out to tr…
 
In 2019, Time magazine named Monique Fiso’s (Ngā Rauru, Ngāti Ruanui) Wellington restaurant Hiakai as one of the ‘100 Greatest Places’ in the world – a long way from an after-school job in Porirua as a sandwich hand. Fiso’s incomparable talent has led to work in Michelin-star restaurants, featuring on Netflix’s The Final Table, and receiving praise…
 
Writer, singer, musician and lyricist Amanda Palmer has garnered a vibrant cult following for her creative outputs which include New York Times best-selling memoir and manifesto 'The Art of Asking'. She is supported by a circle of almost 15,000 patrons across the globe who micro-fund her writing and work through the Patreon platform.​​​Slated to fi…
 
AUCKLAND WRITERS FESTIVAL WAITUHI O TĀMAKI 2021“In your atlas two islands not in narrow seas, like a child’s kite anchored in the indifferent blue” are the opening lines to Allen Curnow’s 1939 poem 'Not in Narrow Seas'. Over 80 years later the renowned NZ economist and commentator Brian Easton borrows it for the title of his Ockham NZ Book Award lo…
 
Former Washington Post Beijing bureau chief and 2018 winner of Stanford University’s Shorenstein Journalism Award for outstanding reporting on Asia issues, Anna Fifield, returned home in 2020 to become the editor of Wellington’s Dominion Post. She reflects on her years reporting across eight Asian countries, her insights into North Korea’s leader i…
 
As a rising tide of indigenous literary voices sweep across Aotearoa and the wider world, the literary barriers of mainstream publishing are becoming ever more apparent. Writers and editors Patricia Grace, Anahera Gildea andessa may ranapiri deliver a powerful dissection on the current state of play, discussing alternative methods of publishing in …
 
From her ancestral lands, in Hongoeka Bay, Patricia Grace (Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa, Te Ati Awa) brings us her new memoir. She reveals the experiences that have shaped her life, books and distinctive voice: “I decided to sit myself in the middle of the story and move it back and forth around me... placing myself at the centre, keeping characters an…
 
To read Brian Turner “is to enter a world where natural things stand starkly, and emotions are felt as directly as the rock and streams and mountains to which he constantly returns,” says fellow poet and 2016 Festival Honoured Writer Vincent O’Sullivan.Lyric poet and keen environmentalist Turner is a man of both sporting and literary talents: rabbi…
 
In 1971, only 11 women in New Zealand had taken seats as Members of Parliament, women were not entitled to matrimonial property, there was no state help for women leaving a violent partner, and no childcare available for those that worked. That year, young feminists Sue Kedgley and Ngahuia te Awekotuku (Ngāti Whakaue, Tamakaimoana) led a procession…
 
Distinguished historian Dame Claudia Orange has dedicated a lifetime to the study of Aotearoa’s founding documents, ensuring that current and future generations can have a wider understanding of our bicultural history. Her landmark book 'The Treaty of Waitangi | Te Tiriti o Waitangi: An Illustrated History' has just been comprehensively updated to …
 
According to police figures, 900 New Zealanders joined a gang in 2020, with a growing number of gang leaders and affiliates deported from Australia also bolstering those numbers. It comes as no surprise, then, that New Zealand is now one of the most lucrative illicit drug markets in the world, with dealers graduating from not only the motorcycle ga…
 
The late acclaimed songwriter Leonard Cohen once said, “If I knew where the good songs came from, I’d go there more often. Being a songwriter is like being a nun. You’re married to a mystery.”In an effort to interrogate the proposition, an incredible line-up of New Zealand songwriters – Reb Fountain, Tom Scott and Marlon Williams – join fellow arti…
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020.Episode 13 features:MAGGIE O'FARRELL (Ireland / Scotland) Acclaimed Irish-British novelist Maggie O'Farrell has won numerous awards for her books including the Betty Trask, the Somerset Maugham and the Costa Book Awards. Her lat…
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 12 features:PATRICK GALE (England) Patrick Gale is the author of the award-winning BBC drama 'Man in an Orange Shirt' as well as 16 novels, including bestsellers 'Notes From An Exhibition', ‘Perfectly Good Man' and the …
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 11 features:KOLOKESA U MĀHINA-TUAI (Aotearoa New Zealand) author and curator Kolokesa U Māhina-Tuai, is the founder of the cultural consultancy Lagi-Maama, and coedited the encyclopaedic three-century spanning 'Crafting…
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 10 showcases guests from our 2020 Onāianei series:RENÉE: Playwright, novelist, poet, memoirist, and blogger Renée (Ngāti Kahungunu), has documented NZ’s social history in work that includes Wednesday To Come, Setting Th…
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 9 features:SELINA TUSITALA MARSH (Aotearoa New Zealand) Former Poet Laureate, performer and teacher Selina Tusitala Marsh has published three collections of poetry, including the 2010 Best First Book Award winner 'Fast …
 
The inspirational Haben Girma was to appear at the 2020 Auckland Writers Festival to discuss her memoir 'Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law'. Following our cancellation this conversation with ABC's Nas Campanella was recorded via Skype in April. We are publishing it today, 27 June, to coincide with what would have been the 140th b…
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 8 features:PHILIPPA SWAN Philippa Swan’s time-travelling novel The Night of All Souls blends a contemporary tale with the secrets of the 1921 Pulitzer-prizewinner Edith Wharton.So Swan trained as a landscape architect a…
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 7 features:AN YU (China) An Yu's debut novel Braised Pork captures contemporary life in a dizzyingly changing China. The Guardian described it as “Poised between silliness and high seriousness, contrasting narrative wil…
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 6 features:OLIVIA HAYFIELD (England / Aotearoa New Zealand) Writer and editor Sue Copsey has released her first adult novel under the pseudonym Olivia Hayfield. Wife After Wife is a humorous modern take on the life and …
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 5 features:RICHARD FORD (United States) Leading American novelist and short story writer Richard Ford is the author of seven novels and several collections, among them The Sportswriter, Let Me Be Frank With You and Inde…
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 4 features:DEBORAH EISENBERG (United States) A master of the short story – with the requisite skills of observation, pacing, and economy – Deborah Eisenberg is dubbed a “chronicler of American insanity” by The New York …
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 3 features:BECKY MANAWATU (Aotearoa New Zealand) Becky Manawatu (Ngāi Tahu) is the winner of both the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction and the Best First Book Award Fiction at the 2020 Ockham NZ Book Awards with h…
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 2 features:PHILIPPE SANDS (France/England) Philippe Sands' latest book 'The Ratline' is a unique glimpse into the life of a senior Nazi official and his wife before, during, and on the run after the war. Already a best …
 
The Auckland Writers Festival 13-week WINTER SERIES streamed live and free every Sunday morning from 3 May - 26 July 2020. Episode 1 features:BARBARA EWING (Aotearoa New Zealand)Writer and actress Barbara Ewing trained at RADA and has starred on stage and on screen including in the award-winning series Brass. She is the author of nine novels, publi…
 
English food writer and journalist Nigella Lawson started work as a book reviewer and restaurant critic, going on to become the deputy literary editor of The Sunday Times before embarking on a career as a freelance journalist. She has now become one of the world’s most loved food writers and broadcasters and is the author of numerous award-winning …
 
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