News 2016

Residential Workshop: Writing New Zealand: People, Politics, Place

09 November 2016

Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd October at Vaughan Park, Long Bay, Auckland

The sun was shining on our 18 attendees and 19 presenters at Long Bay's Vaughan Park over the weekend. And there must have been something in those rays, for the resulting inspiration, discussion and creativity had been white-hot, and insiders tell me all sorts of new creative endeavours and groups across the nation had formed as a result. 

Residential Workshop
Residential Workshop items

On Saturday, Paula Morris challenged us to avoid stereotypes in our writing. Of the industry's subject du jour, diversity, she asked us to challenge ourselves: "The person outside the door  keeps knocking, while inside the door the music just gets louder," she said. In the Unique New Zealand panel, chaired by Tessa Duder, our speakers Jill Trevelyan, Atholl Anderson (2016 Prime Minister’s Literary Award winner) and Nicky Hager challenged what made New Zealanders truly unique. Toby Manhire spoke about the blessing and curse of social media, and publishers Melanie Laville-Moore and Bridget Williams about how to keep New Zealand knowledge alive through books. Therewaslively discussion between audience members and Dr Paul Moon involving the questionable providence of agreenstonepatu (you had to be there), and a good hour was spent locating a television so Atholl Anderson could lead the charge to watch the All Blacks after dinner.

The last conversation of the day was between ex-student and teacher, Selina Tusitala Marsh and Albert Wendt, mesmerising us with their overlapping stories and history and experiences. An excellent dinner was followed by a jaw-dropping live poetry performance by Selina.

Sunday opened with a spirited discussion between art historian Jill Trevelyan and author Joanne Drayton on what it was really like to befriend a murderer (Anne Perry of Heavenly Creatures fame). The top-rated session of the weekend was investigative journalist Nicky Hager's very practical How I Research and Write a Book. He also had us all rethinking our book titles. In Creating Fiction from Information, Fiona Sussman challenged us to "write fearlessly and with integrity" and Chris McGee (Richie McCaw's biographer and author of novel The Antipodeans) spoke of how his family story of war could be found between the pages of his book. Tessa Duder got passionate about her good friend Margaret Mahy in the Memoir and Biography session, chaired by Catriona Ferguson, and you could hear a pin drop during Fiona Farrell's keynote speech on The Business of Genre. 

Long after the last shuttle pulled away from the kerb late Sunday afternoon, the echoes of new friendships, discussions and reflections could be heard—a sturdy foundation of support for excellence in New Zealand writing.  

-- Caroline Barron (Workshop Coordinator)


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