Nau mai, haere mai ki Kupu Ōtautahi! Kō Hananui te mauka tūturu; Ko Aoraki te mauka teitei. Tihei mauriora!
After nearly two decades overseas, I’m excited to again be close to the landscapes and people I love. It’s a privilege to be co-programming a festival in my home town, where my love of storytelling was born, alongside such a talented team. Two themes have emerged: the richness of what’s right here, and, given COVID, our distance from the rest of the world. I’m proud that a significant proportion of our events arise from the depth and breadth of Ngāi Tahu knowledge, people and history. I’m also proud of the brilliance of all the Ōtautahi writers and thinkers featured, including you, our audience, with new opportunities to create and publish your own work. And it’s been a pleasure designing new ways to connect globally through our digital venue, The Faraway Near. So, to all of our guests, to all of you – welcome. If you see us around the festival, come and say hi!
It’s been a great pleasure working on this programme with my new co-director Nic Low.
It feels as though WORD is entering a new phase.
The pandemic nearly stopped us in our tracks last year but we came back punching; now it has spurred us to innovate and collaborate, and a creative partnership with Nic has brought a new perspective on what a festival can be. This year, you’ll still find a commitment to New Zealand writers and the industry around them, and a love of community in our ever-changing city. Some of the international writers we had to cancel last year have jumped on board our digital events with enthusiasm. I’m particularly proud to pull together an event that was cooked up pre-COVID: an intimate and magical show with David Mitchell and Tiny Ruins. I’m also thrilled to continue our relationship with the Edinburgh International Book Festival in new ways. As ever, I’m so grateful to Marianne Hargreaves, Magda Lorenzo and the rest of the hardworking WORD team. A special welcome to our fabulous guest curators, AJ Fitzwater and Daisy Speaks.