Missed out on one of our events? You’ve come to the right place! We record some of the best of WORD Christchurch events, so you can revisit them if you were lucky enough to see them, or hear them for the first time if you weren’t.

We are adding sessions all the time, including from our one-off events. Whether you listen at your desk, out walking, or doing the gardening, enjoy these stimulating, thought-provoking and entertaining sessions, including storytelling with Ivan Coyote, Why I’m No Longer Talking About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge, Scottish poet Harry Giles, Clementine Ford, Madwomen in the Attic and and many more. Look out for our event with Robert Webb, coming soon!

All WORD Christchurch events are supported by our major funders Creative New Zealand, Christchurch City Council and the Rata Foundation.


30 August 2018 | WORD Christchurch Festival

Like the proverbial overnight sensation that actually took years, the roots of Donald Trump’s alt-right America stretch back to the 1990s, to patriot militias, white supremacists and Tea Party activists. Emboldened by right-wing media, they found a common object of loathing in the first black president. Their unlikely messiah was a controversial property developer and reality TV star, but is Trump really an ideologue? Investigative journalist David Neiwert has tracked US extremists for more than two decades. He talks with Listener journalist Paul Thomas about the result: Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Time of Trump.

Presented by the New Zealand Listener and supported by the Christchurch City Council Sister Cities Programme.

2 September 2018 | WORD Christchurch Festival

One of Britain’s most lauded contemporary poets, Robin Robertson has won many accolades, including the Forward Prize for best single poem for his haunting narrative poem ‘At Roane Head’, one of his ‘invented Scots folk narratives … everyday tales of murder, madness, congenital malformation and selkies’. This year he released the book-length narrative poem, The Long Take, which John Banville called ‘a masterly work of art, exciting, colourful, fast-paced … and almost unbearably moving’. Robertson has recently gathered another accolade: The Long Take has just become the first book of poetry to be long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. In his other life he is an editor at Jonathan Cape, where he has worked with Irvine Welsh, Anne Enright, Michael Ondaatje and Alice Oswald among others. Robertson joins VUP editor Fergus Barrowman for an hour of readings and conversation.

Supported by Creative Scotland and the British Council

1 September 2018 | WORD Christchurch Festival

2018 Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture

Barbara Else, author of the fantastical Tales of Fontania Quartet, and of Go Girl, this year’s book of true stories about extraordinary New Zealand women, presents the third Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture. Each festival we invite a writer to celebrate and honour Mahy’s extraordinary imagination. After recent discussion about the dearth of children’s stories featuring female protagonists, and in a suffrage celebration year, the time could not be better for Barbara to consider gender and imagination in storytelling, and to explore our need for story and voice. Introduced by Kate de Goldi.

#suffrage125 #WhakatuWahine #SuffrageDay

Proudly supported by the Ministry for Women's Suffrage 125 Community Fund

1 September 2018 | WORD Christchurch Festival

An unashamedly feminist event of readings, ruminations and discussions about human bodies, particularly women’s and gender non-conforming bodies, which over the centuries have been celebrated and reviled, legislated and liberated. We could look at everything from sex, addiction and reproduction to #metoo, #suffrage125, and technology, from feeding our faces to letting our freak flags fly. Featuring fiction, poetry and essay with Annaleese Jochems, Tayi Tibble, Kirsten McDougall, Sonya Renee Taylor, Juno Dawson, Helen Heath, Daisy Speaks and Ray Shipley, all held together by Charlotte Graham-McLay.

#suffrage125 #WhakatuWahine #SuffrageDay

Supported by the New Zealand Book Council and the Ministry for Women's Suffrage 125 Community Fund.

31 August 2018 | WORD Christchurch Festival

Selina Tusitala Marsh is this country’s first woman of colour Poet Laureate and as Commonwealth Poet she performed for the Queen and recently welcomed Barack Obama to New Zealand. She is also an associate professor at Auckland University, juggling international festivals and academic conferences with her busy family life – and marathon-racing. So many women share this kind of extremely demanding existence, as we try to do everything and do it excellently. Guest programmer Tusiata Avia, sister poet and friend from the frontlines, talks to Selina about her life, her poetry and how women, under pressure, may burn bright but not out.

#suffrage125 #WhakatuWahine #SuffrageDay

Supported by the National Library of New Zealand and the Ministry for Women's Suffrage 125 Community Fund

30 August 2018 | WORD Christchurch Festival

To commemorate 125 years of women’s suffrage, we assemble a panel of extraordinary New Zealand women to discuss how far we have come since women were granted the vote, and how far we still have to go in the fight for gender equality. Featuring pioneering human rights activist Georgina Beyer, historian Dame Anne Salmond, musician and writer Lizzie Marvelly, head of Aotahi, the School of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Canterbury Sacha McMeeking, and Paula Penfold, consulting journalist on Stuff’s #metooNZ investigation, chaired by Kim Hill.

With a special introduction by Gemma Gracewood and Megan Salole of the Wellington Interational Ukulele Orchestra.

#suffrage125 #WhakatuWahine #SuffrageDay

Presented by the National Library of New Zealand and the Royal Society Te Apārangi, and proudly supported by the Ministry for Women's Suffrage 125 Community Fund

Thirty years after te reo Māori was declared an official language of Aotearoa, it seems to be in better health than it has been for a long time. Free classes started by Fush eatery’s Anton Matthews attracted hundreds of eager learners, and media such as RNZ have embraced its everyday use. But Don Brash is ‘utterly sick’ of it, and Green Party calls for compulsory te reo in schools have been met with some hostility. Join lecturer Hēmi Kelly, author of A Māori Word a Day, broadcaster Miriama Kamo and Hana O'Regan, General Manager of Oranga at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, for a korero with Jeanette King about the state of te reo in Aotearoa and how we can all help to keep New Zealand’s first language alive.

13 March 2018 | Presented by LitCrawl Wellington, Harry Giles appears with the support of the British Council in partnership with Writers’ Centre Norwich, UK as part of the International Literature Showcase.

We are thrilled to welcome, fresh from Writers & Readers at the New Zealand Festival, Scotland’s Harry Giles: performer, poet, and ‘general doer of things’, who says ‘I make art about protest and protest about art and write about anything… my work generally happens in the crunchy places where performance and politics get muddled up.’ Expect the unexpected in an evening of poetry and other adventures from this theatre- and game-maker, whose one-to-one show What We Owe was listed in the Guardian’s Best of the Edinburgh Fringe, and whose work defies categorisation. With MC duties and support from Christchurch’s Ray Shipley: poet, comedian, youth worker and founder of the Faultline Poetry Collective.

7 March 2018 | WORD Christchurch in association with New Zealand Festival Writers & Readers

Join us for a special evening with Francis Spufford, one of Britain’s most diverse and acclaimed authors, of whom the New Yorker said, ‘intellectually he resembles a many-armed Hindu deity, able to pluck fruit and butterflies from anywhere on earth’s most robust tall trees’. Spufford’s seven books range in subject matter from science and history to theology and politics. 'The Child That Books Built' was a love letter to literature; Unapologetic argued that ‘despite everything, Christianity can still make surprising emotional sense’; and in 2016 his first foray into fiction, 'Golden Hill', was a triumph, scooping numerous prizes, including the Costa Award for Best First Novel. A rollicking, suspenseful tale set in mid-18th century Manhattan, the novel pays loving tribute to the literature of that era. He appears in robust, wide-ranging conversation with Chris Moore.

Warning: contains strong language and reference to sexual abuse

3 September 2017 | WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View in association with Christchurch Arts Festival

Join Australia’s online sensation, fearless feminist heroine and scourge of trolls and misogynists everywhere Clementine Ford as she outlines her essential manifesto for feminists new, old and soon-to-be, and exposes just how unequal the world continues to be for women. Her incendiary debut Fight Like A Girl is a call to arms for all women to rediscover the fury that has been suppressed by a society that still considers feminism a threat. It will make you laugh, cry and scream, and fight for a world in which women have real equality. Introduced by journalist Beck Eleven.

1 September 2017 | WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View 2017 in association with Christchurch Arts Festival

‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.’ Samuel Beckett

Join us for a night of stories in the beautiful Great Hall as six speakers share tales of failure and its role in their lives and careers. Whether it’s a building block to creative success as Beckett asserts, a sorry rock-bottom tale, or a philosophical pondering on the nature of failure itself, is it safe to fail? And can we ever fail better?

Featuring Australian feminist writer Clementine Ford, esteemed author Witi Ihimaera, storyteller and corporate warrior Hana O’Regan, everyone’s favourite poet/doctor Glenn Colquhoun, Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziel, and playwright Victor Rodger.

17 May 2017 | Presented as part of the WORD Christchurch Autumn Season in association with Auckland Writers Festival

We were delighted to close the Autumn Season with one of the most electrifying novelists writing in English today. Anne Enright, who won the Booker Prize in 2007 for The Gathering, writes about Irish families with great lyricism and black humour. In 2015 she became the inaugural Laureate for Irish Fiction, a three-year appointment. Her latest novel, The Green Road (longlisted for the 2016 Man Booker), set in a small town on Ireland’s Atlantic coast and spanning 30 years, is a tale of family and fracture, compassion and selfishness – a shattering exploration of the gaps in the human heart and how we strive to fill them. Anne Enright appeared in conversation with Morrin Rout.

16 May 2017 | Presented as part of the WORD Christchurch Autumn Season in association with Auckland Writers Festival

When Stephen Hawking once famously held a cocktail party for time travellers and nobody showed up, he said it proved time travel was not possible. But is it? If you have a lifelong fascination with time travel, or even just a passing curiosity about it, this event is for you. James Gleick, leading science communicator and author of Time Travel: A History, gives a mind-bending exploration of this fascinating subject: its subversive origins, its evolution in literature and science, and its influence on our understanding of time itself. From H.G. Wells to Doctor Who, from pulp fiction to modern physics, Gleick explores as many facets of time travel as possible in just one hour. Chaired by San Francisco State University Professor Daniel Bernardi, visiting University of Canterbury film and media studies scholar, science fiction expert and documentary filmmaker.

15 May 2017 | Presented as part of the WORD Christchurch Autumn Season in association with Auckland Writers Festival

Stella Duffy has the great distinction of being asked to complete Dame Ngaio Marsh’s unfinished novel Money in the Morgue, and she is well qualified for the task. New Zealand-raised, London-based Duffy has distinguished herself as a writer of crime fiction, with two Crime Writers’ Association Dagger awards under her belt, and of historical and literary fiction. Like Marsh, she is also immersed in the theatrical world. As the co-director of Fun Palaces, she was recently awarded an OBE for Services to the Arts. Duffy talks with writer and editor Liz Grant about her latest books — crime novel The Hidden Room and historical novel London Lies Beneath – as well her creative life and her pursuit of one of the original Queens of Crime, Dame Ngaio Marsh.

6 September 2017 | WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View in association with Christchurch Arts Festival

Following a performance of Jane Eyre: An Autobiography with Rebecca Vaughan, sit back and enjoy dark tales of gothic houses, damaged men, plucky heroines and secrets lurking in attics. What is the enduring appeal of the gothic women of literature? Who are the forgotten women, and the doppelgangers? An actor, a novelist and a librarian share their views, their favourite heroines, and improvise their own tales of women with great hair fleeing gothic houses. Rebecca is joined by Karen Healey and Moata Tamaira, chaired by Rachael King.

5 September 2017 | WORD Christchurch Shifting Points of View in association with Christchurch Arts Festival

When award-winning British journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote a blog post about the way discussions of racism were being led by those not affected by it, her words hit a nerve. Galvanised, she dug into the source of her feelings and kept writing. The result was Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. We invite you to come and listen as Eddo-Lodge discusses, with playwright Victor Rodger, issues such as eradicated black history, whitewashed feminism, and the inextricable link between class and race, while offering a framework to see, acknowledge and counter racism.

28 August 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

Christchurch/Ōtautahi is a sister to many cities around the world, and we have invited writers from two of them — Adelaide and Seattle — to talk with Ngāi Tahu writer Nic Low about their acclaimed work and about the challenges and opportunities facing indigenous writers. As an Aboriginal descended from the Yankunytjatjara language group, Ali Cobby Eckermann’s chief concern is to express what she sees as the untold truth of Aboriginal people. Her most recent books include a verse novel, Ruby Moonlight, and a memoir, Too Afraid to Cry. Elissa Washuta is member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and a writer of personal essays and memoir, with two books, Starvation Mode and My Body Is a Book of Rules.

Supported by: Christchurch City Council Sister City Programme

28 August, 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

We welcome Caitlin Doughty, author, mortician, death positive advocate, and presenter of the smart, funny and informative ‘Ask a Mortician’ web series. According to the Guardian, Doughty’s memoir, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematorium, which charts her early years in the funeral business, is ‘a hilarious, poignant and impassioned plea to revolutionise our attitudes to death’. Doughty explodes taboos with wit, wisdom and insight, and tells it straight in matters of death and dying. With Christchurch coroner Marcus Elliott.

Presented by Kate Sylvester

28 August 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

In the words of one newspaper, Ivan E. Coyote ‘is to Canadian literature what K.D. Lang is to country music: a beautifully odd fixture’. A seasoned performer and audience favourite at festivals worldwide, Ivan often grapples with the complex and intensely personal issues of gender identity, as well as family, class, social justice and queer liberation, but always with a generous heart, a quick wit and the nuanced and finely honed timing of a gifted raconteur. In this session, Ivan shares stories and chats with poet and comedian Sophie Rea.

Supported by the Canada Council for the Arts.

28 August 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

Be transported to Antarctica, the world’s last great wilderness, with tales of adventures on icy land and sea. ITV science broadcaster Alok Jha was recently trapped in the Antarctic ice aboard a Russian research ship that became the focus of an international row; Rebecca Priestley’s new Antarctic science anthology, Dispatches from Continent Seven, tells tales of scientific derring-do old and new; Matt Vance’s Ocean Notorioustracks stories of the Southern Ocean, from obsessive Southern explorers of the heroic era to solo sailors in tiny yachts. Chaired by Metro’s editor-at-large Simon Wilson.

Presented by Antarctica New Zealand
Supported by The Royal Society of New Zealand

28 August 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

Listen in on a conversation between two extraordinary poets and performers, to celebrate the release of Tusiata Avia’s recent collection, Fale Aitu | Spirit House, which contains poems that are confessional and confrontational, gentle and funny. Set in Samoa, Christchurch, Gaza and New York, her poetry combines stories from myth and the everyday. Tusiata is joined by Selina Tusitala Marsh – who, among many achievements, recently performed her poem ‘Unity’ for the Queen – to talk about their work and their world views, and to share their poems.

27 August 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

Why do true crime stories hold so much fascination for readers and viewers? Two recent books, Steve Braunias’s The Scene of the Crime, and Michael Bennett’s In Dark Places, examine high-profile New Zealand murder cases and trials. And the Serial podcast and Making a Murderer television series have made armchair jurors of us all. Jarrod Gilbert talks to Steve Braunias and Tim McKinnel, the investigator behind the Teina Pora case, about false confessions, and the nature and characteristics of homicide.

27 August 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

Few issues right now are as topical as water: who owns it, what it’s worth and how we can keep it clean. But what do we really know about water and where it comes from? In The Water Book, journalist and ITV science correspondent Alok Jha gets to the bottom of this extraordinary yet everyday substance, in a fascinating story that takes us back to the beginning of the universe. He joins Simon Morton from RNZ’s This Way Upprogramme to talk about the wet stuff.

Presented by Environment Canterbury
Supported by The Royal Society of New Zealand

27 August 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

Lecretia Seales’ fight for agency over her own death went all the way to the High Court and gripped a nation. In Lecretia’s Choice, her husband Matt Vickers tells her story and makes a case for the legalisation of assisted dying. He is joined by death positivity advocate Caitlin Doughty and the University of Canterbury’s Ruth McManus to examine society’s attitudes to death and dying, including the argument for euthanasia. Chaired by journalist Cate Brett.

26 August 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

What a time to be a teenager. An award-winning New Zealand novel, Into the River, which depicts the reality of teen sex, faces outcry and a temporary ban, yet there is infinite access to often unrealistic and misogynistic online pornography. YA novelists Ted Dawe and Karen Healey, and sexual therapist Frances Young, with chair Mandy Hager, discuss what young adults can handle and gain from sex in literature. Do books with sexual themes promote empathy and provide a safe space for teens to explore dangerous situations? Or are we sending our kids straight to hell?

26 August 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

With migration and war so much in the news, and questions being asked about our own refugee quota, we discover the real faces behind the headlines. Meet just a few of the many people to whom Christchurch has opened its doors, and hear their stories. How did they come to be here? What situation in their own country drove them away? With special guests Dr Hassan Ibrahim and Abbas Nazari, and input from Murdoch Stephens of Doing Our Bit, in conversation with Donna Miles-Mojab.

Supported by All Right.

26 August 2016 | WORD Christchurch Festival

Is it ‘language in orbit’ (Seamus Heaney) or does it make you feel ‘physically as if the top of [your] head were taken off’ (Emily Dickinson)? Poetry means something different to everybody. To celebrate National Poetry Day, some of New Zealand’s most distinguished poets will read their work and tell us what poetry is to them. Featuring Bill Manhire, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Fiona Kidman, and special guest Ali Cobby Eckermann(Australia). The MC is Paul Millar, a recent poetry judge of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

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