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Michael King Writers' Centre

Newsletter March 2017

Plums and monarchs in MKWC garden

The New Year has started off well here at the centre. We have welcomed our first resident fellow for the year, Frankie McMillan, the plum trees have fruited and we have hosted four visiting writers from Auckland, Sweden, Perth and Dunedin.

The true summer weather in February, with warmer temperatures was especially welcome as the house was reroofed throughout the entire month and into the first weeks of March.

We appreciated that Auckland Council appointed contractor Downers (and Certified Roofing Services) stuck to the schedule and were considerate to the operation of the Centre throughout reroofing.

As the year progresses we are looking forward to welcoming the other three recipients of residencies; Whiti Hereaka (Maori Residency), Anthony Byrt (Spring Residency) and Anna Jackson (Early Summer Residency) – along with many other visiting writers from Aotearoa and around the world. We also have an interesting programme of events lined up.

Read on for more information …

Tania Stewart

Scaffolding nest from above Roofline Chimney and roof

Welcome to Frankie McMillan

I come from Christchurch; (city of earthquakes and fires!) so living here in peaceful Devonport is quite a contrast. While on the residency I'll be working on a book of small narrative forms, mainly prose poetry and flash fiction. A postcard of a chimpanzees' tea party, pasted by Anne Frank on her bedroom wall in Amsterdam, has been the starting point for this new work.  

I particularly enjoy writing in the writer's studio at the back of the house. At present the house is surrounded by scaffolding and there's lots of activity with the old slate tiles on the roof being replaced with new ones. Having my own writing space allows me to immerse myself in my work, lie on the floor and read and be as day-dreamy as I wish. I'm pleased too to have an office at Auckland University (two days a week) and occasional teaching will help keep me connected to the outside world.  

Tania and Jan provide wonderful administrative support and often leave me little plates of home-made goodies on the table. Exactly what a working writer needs!  

Recollections of Michael King

We are keen to hear from people who knew or met Michael King and would like to send us a note of their recollections of him. To begin this series we thank Jennifer Little for her contribution below:

Rainbow Warrior book cover

I met esteemed historian, race relations and cultural commentator, author, the late Michael King, twice - once when he interviewed me for a book, and the second time when I interviewed him about a book.

"That first meeting took place in 1985 at a rustic old Devonport house with an overgrown tropical garden at the foot of North Head, which I rented with three women friends. He'd come to interview me for his book on the bombing of the Greenpeace protest vessel, the Rainbow Warrior, by French secret service agents.

I was nearing the end of a journalism diploma at Auckland Technical Institute (now AUT/Auckland University of Technology) in 1985 and I'd had a great scoop (what journalists live for) earlier that year during the course, which ran from July to November. It turned out that I'd had a close encounter with one of the French spies sent over to set up the 10 July 1985 bombing of the ship moored on Auckland's Queens Wharf.

Read more

NEWS - What has been happening?

2017 Residency recipients

The award-winning writers selected for the four residencies at the Devonport writers' retreat are short story writer and poet, Frankie McMillan from Christchurch, novelist and playwright Whiti Hereaka from Wellington, critic and journalist Anthony Byrt from Auckland, and Anna Jackson, an Associate Professor in English at Victoria University, Wellington.

Read more

A New Role for our Chair, Catriona Ferguson

In a media release on 15 February 2017, The Council of the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) announced the appointment of Catriona Ferguson to the role of Association Director.

Catriona is currently the Chief Executive of the New Zealand Book Council and was previously a Literary Advisor for Creative New Zealand. She brings a wealth of knowledge to the Association, particularly in the areas of grants and funding - and equally a life-long passion for books, reading and outstanding creative content.

On announcing the appointment PANZ President Melanie Laville-Moore commented: "The Council is delighted that Catriona has accepted the Association Director's role and we look forward to warmly welcoming her when she joins at the end of March."

"The Association fulfils a crucial role in advocating for the well-being of the New Zealand publishing industry and its member organisations. Catriona has a proven track record in administering industry bodies, and we've no doubt that under the stewardship of the PANZ Council, she will deliver on many important fronts."

Catriona Ferguson commented, "I am thrilled to be taking up the position of Association Director with PANZ. The role offers a unique opportunity to join an energetic organisation operating in exciting times. I look forward to working closely with the PANZ Council and the wider membership on issues vital for the development of publishers and publishing."

Catriona will be replacing publishing industry stalwart Anne de Lautour, who after almost 10 years of dedicated service will be stepping down from the Association Director role in early April.

Vivienne Plumb's Book Launch

Vivienne held the six month University of Auckland/MKWC residency from July-December last year and was incredibly productive during this time. On Friday 10th March she launched a new book As Much Gold as an Ass Could Carry, Vivienne Plumb with illustrations by Glenn Otto.

Plumb creates through the written word, Otto through line; this book combines their two narratives. The image/text conflation moves between form over meaning, and meaning over form. Otto's exuberant gestures interact with Plumb's luminous humour, as if two performers are present on the page together. As Much Gold as an Ass Could Carry showcases Plumb's poetry, fiction and drama, from a twenty-year literary career. Within these large, funny, barbed, affecting themes, the power of the social construct -- of what it means to be female -- is laid bare. Otto's graphic wit ornaments and underwrites Plumb's written traceries.

Price: $38.00   Copies can be ordered through the split/fountain webshop.


We love film adaptations of great books! We've got 5x double passes to the very moving film, DENIAL - based on Deborah Lipstadt's hard-hitting book History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier. Simply LIKE and SHARE our Facebook post, then COMMENT with your favourite book to film adaptation. 

Young Writers Programme Update

Signals 2017 coverSignals 2016
The fifth issue of Signals, our literary journal for young writers, was launched on Saturday 10 December at the National Library in Parnell.

The journal features the work of senior secondary students who took part in the 2016 Young Writers Programme, as well as its alumni. Over 190 pieces were submitted to the editors.

Winners of the $200 Chris Cole Catley Awards for 2016 were:
Poetry: Theresa Boyd (Mt Albert Grammar School)
Prose: Joanna Li (Diocesan School for Girls)

The 2016 Programme attracted more than 130 senior students, representing schools from all over Auckland.

Leading writers contributed to workshops and master classes in collaboration with tutors Ros Ali and Jo Emeney. Guests included Elizabeth Morton, Stephanie Johnson, Chris Tse, Serie Barford, Dylan Horrocks, Briar Grace-Smith, Paula Morris and Selina Tusitala Marsh.

Copies of Signals have been distributed to Auckland secondary schools. The journal is available from the Centre and selected bookshops.

The Young Writers Programme thanks Creative New Zealand for its support. Signals is published thanks to a grant from the Joyce Fisher Charitable Trust.

NZSA/Auckland Museum Research Grant/Residency 2017

Laurence FearnleyIn early December, the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) and Auckland War Memorial Museum were delighted to announce the recipients of the NZSA Auckland Museum National and Auckland Region Grants.

The National Grant goes to Dunedin writer Laurence Fearnley whose winning proposal focuses on landscape and scent structured in such a way that each section responds to the traditional development and dry-down of perfume. November has been a double banger month for Laurence, who has also been awarded the NZSA Janet Frame Memorial Award 2016.

Laurence is looking forward to her time at Auckland Museum Library. "The research I undertake at the Auckland Museum will contribute towards a volume based on smell and landscape. The Auckland Museum research is crucial to this project and will form the centre of the "base notes" section. Specifically it will draw on the journals of naturalist and missionary Rev. Richard Taylor and the observations he made regarding scented plant material used by Maori in the creation of The Grand Maori Perfume." 

The judging panel said, "Laurence's application was clearly outstanding, she is an exceptional writer and her project outline was clear, informative and arresting."

Laurence will receive a $4,000 grant and one month's accommodation at the Michael King Writers Centre in Devonport while she undertakes her research next year.

Our Events Programme

Sunday 30 April - In Conversation, Frankie McMillan & Kevin Ireland at Kerr Street Artspace, Devonport, 3pm.

Sunday 28 May - In Conversation, Ian Wedde and Peter Simpson at Kerr Street Artspace, Devonport, 3pm.

Also coming up:

Dominique Cooreman

La Basse-Ville 1917: New Zealand Voices from Flanders Fields with Dominique Cooreman
Wednesday 12 April, 12pm - 1pm (extra event)
Where: Whare Wānanga, Level 2, Central City Library, Lorne St, Auckland
Cost: Free
Booking: To secure your place, please contact the Central Auckland Research Centre on 09 307 7771, or complete our online booking form.

Retired Belgian judge Dominique Cooreman unearthed an almost forgotten battle in a 12-year quest to bring understanding and closure to the families of the more than 1000 Kiwi men killed in a small hamlet called La Basse-Ville in 1917.

Her unique book sheds light on how the war affected all people. 

Signalman's House, Mount Victoria, Devonport, Auckland 0624, New Zealand
Postal address: PO Box 32 629, Devonport, Auckland 0744. Phone/fax: 09 445 8451

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