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 been a privilege to be co-programming a festival in my home town, where my love of storytelling was born, alongside such a talented team.

It’s also been a rollercoaster doing this in a pandemic year, when COVID has cut a swathe through more than half of our original programme. But we’re proud that we still have a festival, and of all the sessions and speakers that remain.

The Faraway Near, designed for this scenario, comes into its own – now with two exciting new international guests, Helen Garner and Ruth Ozeki. At the time of writing, there are still tickets available for Faraway Near sessions featuring Hari Kunzru, Tommy Orange, Ava Homa and Behrouz Boochani, and Mark O’Connell. Local sessions still with in-venue seats include Remembering Helen Kelly and How to Write a Killer Plot. There are small silver linings as well: we’ve moved previously sold-out events into the Douglas Lilburn Auditorium at the Christchurch Town Hall, so you can still see events like Adventurous Women and Patricia Grace: From the Centre if you missed out.

With significantly reduced capacities in venues, we’re also making the big move towards livestreaming our events. If you miss out on in-venue tickets, you will still be able to watch most events at home on your laptop / tablet / phone / TV. Sign up to the WORD mailing list to be notified when Livestream tickets go on sale. And if Christchurch ends up back at Level 3 or 4, most events will still run online – we’ve tried to cover all contingencies so there’s a festival for you either way!

Thank you to all the WORD whānau, from our staff and artists to our supporters, partners and audiences, for standing beside us while we figure out how to safely run a festival in these strange and unsettling times.


Programme Co-Director


Despite what has transpired in the last few months, it was 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 and it’s trying to have its way with us again in 2021. A new world has meant a new way of operating: 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 was proud to pull together an event that was cooked up pre-COVID: an intimate and magical show with David Mitchell and Tiny Ruins, which will now run in 2022. I’m also thrilled to continue our relationships with international festivals such the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Cúirt International of Literature in Galway, Ireland. As ever, I’m so grateful to Marianne Hargreaves, Magda Lorenzo, Annie de Senna, Kate Fielder, Audrey Baldwin, Paula Granger, Vanessa Reed and the rest of the hardworking WORD team, and to all the writers and publishers who have been beyond patient as we have tried to do our best without a crystal ball.


Programme Co-Director


Our objective: to bring the community together through their love of words in all their forms.

Contact us

Word Christchurch Festival 2021

PO Box 29 270
Christchurch 8440

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