Schools Programme

INSPIRING WRITERS Secondary Schools Programme

THURSDAY 26 AUGUST | 10.00am-2.00pm

This August WORD Christchurch is bringing a huge selection of the best writers and performers from around New Zealand to our city. The festival will offer a scintillating range of events, giving Christchurch students and their families an exciting opportunity to expand their horizons.

Once again, we’re offering incredible speakers to Christchurch secondary schools, absolutely free of charge. Featuring eight incredible speakers to fire the minds of young people. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity for students to hear from and meet exciting writers who make waves in everything they do:

  • award-winning poets Tayi Tibble, Glenn Colquhoun and RikTheMost
  • Ngāi Tahu writer, activist and disability advocate Kera Sherwood-O’Regan
  • former refugee and current Fulbright scholar Abbas Nazari (After the Tampa) and emerging writer E Wen Wong
  • international best-selling debut novelist Jacqueline Bublitz

Curriculum packs with discussion topics and questions will be available. Expect the audience to go away buzzing, and they might even learn a thing or two!

INSPIRING WRITERS will be held at the University of Canterbury on Thursday 26 August from 10.00am until 2.00pm. The morning session runs from 10am until 12pm, the afternoon session runs from 12.30pm until 2pm. You can book for both sessions or just chose the one that suits best for your school. Please note, the second session has greater capacity.

Spaces are limited so make sure you don’t miss out. Register today for this free event in August! Let us know if you need assistance with transport for your school.

Presented in association with University of Canterbury



MORNING SESSION SPEAKERS    10.00am – 12.00pm


Michele Bannister is a New Zealand planetary astronomer and science communicator at the University of Canterbury, who has participated in surveying the outermost Solar System for trans-Neptunian objects.

Glenn Colquhoun is a poet and children’s writer. His sixth collection of poetry, Letters to Young People was published in 2020. A new children’s picture book, The Small Girl Who Lives Next Door is expected in 2021. He works as a GP in Horowhenua.

Kera Sherwood-O’Regan (Kāi Tahu) is an indigenous and disabled storyteller and activist working at the intersections of indigenous and disability rights, hauora, and climate change. She runs social impact creative agency, Activate, to co-create community-led stories and projects for social change. She has contributed an article on climate change and disability justice to Climate Aotearoa, edited by Helen Clark.

RikTheMost is a vegan, queer, non-binary spoken-word artist, facilitator and events organiser, who spends most of their spare time making homophobes feel uncomfortable. Their work largely deals with the psychology of choice, emotion, motivation and interaction; and how fear, and overcoming it, directs us.

E Wen Wong is an avid environmentalist and founder of plastic pollution organisation P.S. Our Beaches. In 2020 she was head girl of Burnside High School and is now a first year student at the University of Canterbury. E Wen’s work has recently appeared in A Clear Dawn, Ko Aotearoa Tātou and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook. She enjoys exploring the intersection between art and science.



Tayi Tibble (Te Whānau ā Apanui/Ngāti Porou) is a writer based in Te Whanganui a Tara. Her first book, Poūkahangatus ( 2018), won the Jessie Mackay Best First Book of Poetry Award. Her most recent collection, Rangikura, was published by Victoria University Press in June 2021.

Abbas Nazari is a proud Cantabrian, and is the author of After The Tampa, a memoir of his family’s journey in fleeing Afghanistan as refugees and finding home in New Zealand. In 2019, he was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study in the United States. He wrote After the Tampa during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020.

Jacqueline Bublitz lives between Melbourne, Australia and Whanganui. She wrote her debut novel Before You Knew My Name after spending a summer in New York, where she hung around morgues and the dark corners of city parks (and the human psyche) far too often. The novel has been praised by Clementine Ford and Marian Keyes as a feminist take on the crime genre, and has become an international sensation.

Presented in assocaiation with:

READ ALOUD Primary Schools Programme

FRIDAY 27 AUGUST | 9.45am & 11.30am

This August WORD Christchurch is bringing a huge selection of the best writers and performers from around New Zealand to our city. The festival will offer a scintillating range of events, giving Christchurch students and their families an exciting opportunity to expand their horizons.

The READ ALOUD Primary Schools Programme is a festival institution that gathers together writers for a FREE special event for schools.

READ ALOUD will be held in the James Hay Theatre at the Christchurch Town Hall.

  • SESSION ONE 9.45am-10.45am featuring Maria Gill, Gavin Bishop and Maysoon Salama
  • SESSION TWO 11.30am-12.30pm featuring Graci Kim, Joanna Grochowicz and Lily Emo

We encourage you to attend both sessions and make a day of it in the city (but if you can’t make that work, just select which session you’d like to attend). Scroll down for more information on each of our amazing writers.

This is a great opportunity for children to meet the authors up close and ask them any burning questions they may have, then get their books signed by the authors themselves!

Register today for this free event.

You can register as a school or individually.



Maria Gill has written 60 children’s books including  Anzac Heroes, which won the 2016 NZCYA Book of the Year prize. Ten of her books have received Storylines Notable Book awards. Maria writes fulltime and enjoys giving author talks and writing workshops.

Gavin Bishop’s stunning, once-in-a-generation compendium, Atua, introduces readers to the pantheon of Maori gods, demigods and heroes, and explores Aotearoa’s most exciting legends from the Creation to the Migration.

Before the beginning there was nothing.
No sound, no air, no colour – nothing.


No one knows how long this nothing lasted because there was no time.
However, in this great nothing there was a sense of waiting.

Something was about to happen.

Aya and the Butterfly is by Dr. Maysoon Salama, who lost her son Atta in the mosque attacks on March 15, 2019. Dr. Salama wrote it for her granddaughter (Aya) and for other children dealing with loss and trauma. It is intended to help children to come to terms with grief, cope with change, and build resilience. Aya’s father’s death is implied, but this is not the story’s focus, and children do not need to know how it happened. They do need to know that sometimes we have to say goodbye to the people and things we love the most. In the face of such overwhelming loss, we must allow ourselves to remember and feel sad, but we must also learn to let go and keep going. There is hope.


Graci Kim is the bestselling author of the Korean mythology-inspired novel, The Last Fallen Star, published by Rick Riordan Presents. Called a “sparkling yarn” by Entertainment Weekly, it has been optioned by the Disney Channel for a live-action television series.

Joanna Grochowicz is an author and polar historian. Drawing on diaries, letters, and expedition narratives from archives and personal collections around the world, Grochowicz’s compellingly written novels bring to light new and often overlooked elements of heroic age exploration


An award winning illustrator living in Nelson, Lily Emo spends her time juggling the demands of an illustration/art career and freelancing as a graphic designer and relief art teaching. Her portraiture work of Covid 19 essential workers was displayed in 2021 in The National Portrait Gallery in Wellington.  Lily Emo works with a range of mediums – from Procreate and photoshop to more traditional mediums like watercolour, gouache, graphite and coloured pencil.




Our Schools Programme is a festival institution that gathers together writers for FREE special events for schools. Diary the dates and share this link with your colleagues in other departments and at other schools to make sure they don’t miss out. More details will be out very soon including the announcement of writers who will be at these events. We look forward to welcoming you in August!

Contact with any questions

Contact us

Word Christchurch Festival 2021

PO Box 29 270
Christchurch 8440

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