Archived: Auckland Writers Festival

14 March, 2014

The Auckland Writers Festival 2014 programme opens this week. We couldn't help channelling our excitement into a round-up on the various categories and parts of the programme. Splicing it up we can see some real themes emerging. Here's our thoughts on must sees and the headline acts:


Eleanor Catton (pictured), the youngest ever winner of the Man Booker prize for her novel The Luminaries will be part of two sessions and have a part in the education programme. 

Our book winner: Eleanor Catton
This hour long session will have broadcaster John Campbell joined by the prodigal Catton for an hour long conversation about writing, storytelling, and her successes.
Saturday May 17, 5.30pm - 6.30pm ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

Gender Divides
Eleanor Catton will join social enterprise entrepreneur Jessica Jackley, cultural activist and scholar Ngahuia Te Awekotuku and British writer and comedian Sandi Toksvig discuss the progress of women with head of School of Social sciences and Public Policy at AUT University Judy McGregor. What a fantastic line-up of speakers and erudite literary figureheads. 
Sunday May 18, 1-2pm, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre​

Sandy Toksvig (pictured), British writer and broadcaster and BBC Radio 4 favourite, chair of the News Quiz. She was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 New Years Honours for services to broadcasting. Having written books for adults and children, both non-fiction and fiction, as well as columns she has had an illustrious career dating back to the 1980s. 

Toksvig will be at the aforementioned event about women and gender as well as an event centred on her.

An Evening with Sandi Toksvig
Chaired by Sean Plunkett the two will discuss her career, moon landings, manners, and more. 

Saturday May 17, 7.15pm - 8.30pm, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

University of Auckland Debate: Privacy Is an Outdated Concept
This event has Iraqi/English scientist Jim Al-Khalili, Dutch historian Frank Dikotter, New Zealand privacy expert Bob Stevens, and British broadcaster, writer and comedian Sandi Toksvig in conversation and is chaired by journalist Guyon Espiner.

Wednesday 14 May, 8pm - 9.30pm, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre


Alexander McCall Smith (pictured), the author who wrote the hugely popular series No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and What W.H Auden Can Do For You is going to be at more than one of the events including  the all-important Gala Night which will give you a taste of some of the key events and writers in attendance. You would have already known McCall Smith was coming if you read our first announcement here.

New Zealand Listener Gala Night, True Stories Told Live: Truth and Lies
Nigerian poet and performer Inua Ellams, Egyptian writer Yasmine El Rashidi, NZ photographer Marti Friedlander, Canadian award-winner Lawrence Hill, Women’s Prize for Fiction winner A.M. Homes, best-selling novelist Sarah-Kate Lynch, internationally loved lawyer and writer Alexander McCall Smith and trainspotting Scot Irvine Welsh will be there. Carol Hirschfeld will be in the driver's seat for this session. 

Thursday May 15, 7 - 8.30pm, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

An Evening with Alexander McCall Smith
The wildly charming McCall Smith who trained as a medical doctor will have you captivated. The conversation will be chaired by Jim Mora and the pair will likely discuss his many works of fiction and times in Africa and abroad. 

Friday May 16 - 7 - 8.15pm, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

Inspired by Auden
The writer will share his view on how the poet W.H Auden known for a unique way of life with poet Harry Ricketts. 
​Saturday May 17, 4 - 5pm, Lower NZI, Aotea Centre

Alice Walker, the African-American author who wrote the novel The Colour Purple, later adapted as a film starring Oprah Winfrey is coming to New Zealand for the first time. Having won the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the novel struck a chord with many the world over as a heart-wrenching story of disenfranchised black Americans in 1930s America.

The Colour Purple, Alice Walker Alice Walker will be sharing her experiences in activism with scholar, poet and University of Auckland teacher on experiences of marginalised cultures. Although not as widely known walker has also written poems, essays, children's books, and essays.
Sunday May 18, 10-11am, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

"Hard times require furious dancing." Alice Walker, New Poems

Irvine Welsh (pictured), most famous for Trainspotting which was later adapted to an award-winning screenplay for the film of the same name as well as Filth. The Scotsman has a novel The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins about to be released and has also had various novels of the underworld and seedy side of crime, drugs and violence. Welsh will also be speaking at the Gala event.

Irvine Welsh (pictured), most famous for Trainspotting which was later adapted to an award-winning screenplay for the film of the same name as well as Filth. The Scotsman has a novel The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins about to be released and has also had various novels of the underworld and seedy side of crime, drugs and violence. Welsh will also be speaking at the Gala event.

Choose Life
This session will put Irvine Welsh with Noelle McCarthy to discuss his new novel.
Friday 16 May, 5.30pm - 6.30pm, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

Book Vs Film - FREE EVENT
his will have Dominic Corry, Irvine Welsh, and David Stevens together to discuss the differences between film and literature. 
Saturday 17 May, 2.30 - 3.30pm, Upper NZI Room, Aotea Centre


Lloyd Jones, writer of Mr Pip (Commonwealth Prize winning), is speaking on the recent release of the film adaptation of the novel. See him dissect his new novel A History of Silence, on his family life set against the backdrop of earthquake-struck Christchurch. Jones will be a part of three events. He is also involved in the education programme.

An Hour with Lloyd Jones
This event has Jones discuss his new novel with memoirist Peter Wells. 
Sunday May 18, 1-2pm, Lower NZI Room, Aotea Centre

Four for Fifty Readings Session, Life Stories - FREE EVENT
Lloyd Jones will be joined by memoirists Peter Farrell (NZ), Janice Galloway and poet Siobhan Harvey (NZ) to read excerpts from the stories of their lives, introduced by Catriona Ferguson. 
Saturday May 17, 4 - 4.50pm, Limelight Room, Aotea Centre

A.M Homes (pictured), winner of the 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction for May We Be Forgiven has written a bevy of novels and will be presenting her thoughts on the back catalogue of novels for young people. She teaches at Princeton University and advocates for freedom in literature for writers for the PEN American Center. 

Homes will be at the gala event, and two other events:

Four for Fifty Readings Sessions, 12. Ties That Bind - FREE EVENT
Homes will be joined by three writers; Anne Kennedy, Vincent O’Sullivan and Jenny Pattrick, all introduced by Paula Morris. The five will discuss the dynamics of the family unit in what is sure to be a provocative and side-splitting conversation. 
Friday May 16, 1 - 1.50pm, Limelight Room, Aotea Centre

May We Be Forgiven: A.M. Holmes
This conversation with --- will see Homes discuss the dark and entertaining tale of a family pulling its self together after a strain of particularly unfortunate events.

Saturday May 17, 10 - 11am, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

Huw Lewis-Jones, touted as the Posh Bear Grylls is a British explorer and climber. Using New Zealand's own George Lowe's photographs to retrace footsteps and his journey of Everest, Lewis-Jones created his book The Conquest of Everest, and will illustrate the journey the same way with audiences.

The Conquest of Everest 
This event will have Lewis-Jones in front of an audience with son of Sir Edmund Hillary, Peter Hillary to discuss the expeditions. And as can be expected in such extreme endeavours of such magnitude there are personalities to match as well as drama.

Saturday May 17, 1-2pm, ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre

Lewis-Jones will also have a lunch at the Langham Hotel.

If you are new the festival and fancy an interactive event in the heart of the city, we have just the idea. The Midnight Run event will see thirty people traipsing around town to some of the predetermined locations by the Nigerian-British poet/playwright and performer, Inua Ellams (pictured). The man who once aspired to be an architect leads groups in cities across the world on urban journeys with his Midnight Run concept. This promises to be a tour where you can eat, discover and playing games. This event only allows for an exclusive number of bookings so be sure not to miss out. But aside from the one-off event you have some other opportunities to catch him at events during Auckland Writers Festival. 

Inua Ellams will be at the New Zealand Listener Gala Night, as well as the following events:

The Midnight Run Friday May 16, 6pm - midnight, Auckland location - Note that this event has SOLD OUT

Poetry Idol
his is an opportunity to see new and old hands test their poetry skills for a prize of $500. Ellams will be one of the judges alongside Julia Deans, and previous winner Zane Scarborough.
Saturday May 17, 7.30pm - 10pm, Lower NZI Room, Aotea Centre

Tall Tales
This event has Ellams weave performances with UK storyteller with a knack for telling African and Carribean stories Jan Blake together. 
Sunday May 18, 1pm-2pm, Limelight, Aotea Centre


Ostro lunch with Josh Emett
At one of the jewels in Auckland's dining crown, Ostro, head chef Michelin-rated Josh Emett will share his food and a bit about his new cookbook CUT. Enjoy a specially created two course lunch and complimentary glass of wine. Table sizes vary between 4-8 people and bookings will be sure to fill fast.
Sunday 18 May - 11am - 1pm, Ostro Restaurant

A Taste of Italy: Nicky Pellegrino Lunch
Nicky Pellegrino (pictured), author of seven bestsellers and columnist is having a lunch for the release of her novel. The three course meal lifted from her novel will be served at Toto as well as a complimentary glass of wine. The Food of Love Cookery School is all about love and friendship and is set is Sicily which will make the setting of Toto's all the more appealing for her to be in a conversation chaired by Sarah-Kate Lynch.
Friday May 16, 12 - 2.15pm, Toto Restaurant, Auckland


Gutter Black
Join the rock n' rollers of yesteryear from a melding of Pink Flamingos and Hello Sailor with broadcaster Karen Hay. Paying tribute to Dave McCartney and homage to his memoir Gutter Black. McCartney who died in 2013 was frontman of Hello Sailor and played with The Flamingos once Hello sailor disbanded.

Friday May 16, 7-8pm, Lower NZI Room, Aotea Centre 

White Cloud
Join celebrated musician Tim Finn (pictured) in a work developed with playwright Ken Duncum and filmmaker Sue Healey. This exploration of what it means to be Pakeha is told with alchemy, song, and story and visuals.
Saturday May 17, 8.30 - 9.45pm, Limelight Room, Aotea Centre (cash bar)

Austen's Women - This event has SOLD OUT
English actor and playwright Rebecca Vaughan will take on thirteen of Jane Austen's toughest women. The women include Emma Woodhouse, Lizzy Bennet, Mrs Norris and 10 other women at places in Austen's novels. This was part of Edinburgh Fringe Festival and is the first time it will be performed in New Zealand.

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Saturday May 17, 11.15 - 12.25pm

An Entrepreneurial Tale, Peter Alsop
This will see Peter Alsop a collector of early advertising take viewers on a visual tour of the posters past. They each give an insight to the foundations; culturally and economically in New Zealand's past.

Saturday May 17, 10.15 - 11.15am, Auckland Art Gallery Auditorium. 

The Times they Are a-Changing 
The book Changing Times by Diana Morrow and Jenny Carlyon documented New Zealand in the 1940s is revisited by Carlyon and New Zealand photographer Marti Friedlander and Maori artist Cliff Whiting in a conversation with journalist Richard Harman.

Sunday May 18, 10 - 11am, Upper NZI Room, Aotea Centre.

For bookings visit the Auckland Writers Festival website.