Steph Walker (Executive Director) joined WORD in 2022 after being Auckland Arts Festival’s Head of Programming for the past 2 years, returning home to that Festival after 6 years in Australia. While away Steph worked at the Adelaide Festival, produced the OzAsia Festival amongst other events for the Adelaide Festival Centre; Sydney Festival; the City of Sydney’s Art & About programme and was Executive Director at Performance Space, Sydney. Prior to this she held leadership positions at Christchurch Arts Festival during the city’s period of seismic activity (a professional and personal turning point); and at Wellington’s iconic BATS Theatre. Steph is also a freelance arts consultant, sports fan, stress baker, and is on her te reo Māori learning journey.
Nic Low (Programme Director) is a Ngāi Tahu author and arts organiser, originally from Christchurch, who has recently returned home after close to two decades in Melbourne. Nic brings a wealth of relevant experience to the role. He has co-directed Australia’s National Young Writers Festival, sat on the Melbourne Writers Festival programming committee, and in 2020 was a judge for both the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. He also ran the University of Melbourne’s International Writing Programme at the Asialink institute, organising tours, collaborations and publications across the Asia region.
Kiran Dass (Programme & Engagement Manager) has written about books, music and culture for a variety of publications including NZ Listener, NZ Herald, Guardian (UK), The Wire (UK), Metro, North & South, The Spinoff, RNZ, Pantograph Punch, Sunday magazine, Sunday Star-Times, Landfall, and Vice (Aus). Dass has chaired sessions with international and local authors at WORD Christchurch, Auckland Writers Festival, NZ Festival of the Arts, Verb Wellington and LitCrawl. She reviews books regularly on RNZ’s Nine to Noon and was convening judge of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction at the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Dass has fifteen years’ book trade experience working as a bookseller and book buyer for leading independent bookshops in Aotearoa. In 2020 she was awarded a Michael King Writers Centre Residency and in 2021 a Newsroom Surrey Hotel Writers Residency.
Magda Lorenzo (Festival Administrator & Volunteer Manager) is the founder of The Commuting Book and a self-proclaimed WORD Christchurch No1 fan. She studied Sociology and has worked in different industries, but reading books and getting people interested in literature are her priorities, and her reason for approaching WORD in 2016 to ask for a job, any job! As well as being office administrator and production wizard she also co-ordinates our volunteers.
2021 Festival Team
A J Fitzwater
Annie de Senna
Artist Liaison & Schools Manager
Youth and Community Co-ordinator