This year we embrace an adventurous theme, with writers who take risks in their work and in their lives, and we begin some new traditions: a featured country (Scotland), a featured classic (Moby-Dick) and a guest programmer. Tusiata Avia, one of the country’s best poets and performers, has enriched our programme with her creative curatorial choices, and we are grateful to continue our programming partnership with Ngāi Tahu. We also focus particularly on women’s lives in light of 125 years of women’s suffrage in New Zealand. Finally, we challenge you, our audience, to be adventurous in your decisions about what you see and who you listen to. Take the plunge, be brave – be adventurous. You won’t be sorry.

Download a PDF of the 2018 WORD Christchurch Festival Programme

Children & Family

Inspiring Writers Secondary Schools Day

Thursday 30 August 9:45 am

Once again, we’re offering the most incredible speakers to Christchurch secondary schools, absolutely free of charge.

Free Entry

New Regent Street Pop-Up Festival

Thursday 30 August 6:00 pm

A fun-filled, fast-paced literary tour around the characterful spaces of New Regent Street and surrounds

Free Entry

Kā Huru Manu: My names are the treasured cloak which adorns the land

Friday 31 August 10:00 am

Takerei Norton (Ngāi Tahu) and others from the Ngāi Tahu cultural mapping team talk about the Ngāi Tahu atlas.


Documentary: The Hunt for Moby-Dick

Friday 31 August 12:30 pm

Acclaimed writer Philip Hoare confronts our fascination with one of the most mysterious animals in the ocean, the whale.


Fast Burning Women

Friday 31 August 1:00 pm

Tusiata Avia talks to Selina Tusitala Marsh about her life, her poetry and how women, under pressure, may burn bright but not out.


The Witches of Gambaga

Friday 31 August 2:30 pm

The Witches of Gambaga is the extraordinary story of a community of women condemned to live as witches in Northern Ghana.


You Write Funny!

Friday 31 August 5:30 pm

Free readings from Chris Tse, Megan Dunn, Annaleese Jochems, Erik Kennedy, and Ray Shipley.

Free Entry

Comfortable in Your Skin

Friday 31 August 6:00 pm

An extraordinary panel of local and international queer people of colour: Georgina Beyer, Manu Vaeatangitau and Pati Solomona Tyrell (FAFSWAG) and Sonya Renee Taylor, chaired by Victor Rodger.

Free Entry

Tāngata Ngāi Tahu

Saturday 1 September 1:00 pm

Members of the Tāngata Ngāi Tahu research team explore tribal history through the lens of biography.

Free Entry


Saturday 1 September 2:30 pm

This workshop is for everyone, from beginners to advanced. 

Free Entry

Murder in the Chamber: Ngaio Marsh Finalists

Saturday 1 September 5:30 pm

A selection of Nagio Marsh Crime Award finalists read from their work, hosted by Vanda Symon.

Free Entry

The 2018 Ngaio Marsh Awards

Saturday 1 September 7:00 pm

Hosted by Vanda Symon, with awards presented by A.J. Finn and Denise Mina.

Free Entry

The Sex and Death Salon

Saturday 1 September 10:00 pm

Victor Rodger interrogates a selection of festival guests about taboo subjects.

Free Entry

Embracing Te Reo

Sunday 2 September 10:00 am

Hēmi Kelly, Miriama Kamo, Paulette Tamati-Elliffe

Free Entry


Sunday 2 September 11:30 am

Young adult writers Juno Dawson, Whiti Hereaka, Yaba Badoe read from their work in this free event, introduced by Paula Morris.

Children & Family

The Stolen Stars of Matariki

Sunday 2 September 11:45 am

Miriama Kamo reads from her book

Children & Family

Gavin Bishop: Aotearoa

Sunday 2 September 12:30 pm

Gavin Bishop, talks about defining moments of history in illustration

Book Launch

Book Launch: Bonsai

Sunday 2 September 6:30 pm

Close the festival with the launch of flash fiction anthology Bonsai

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