Best WORDs of the festival

Whether it's a snappy one-liner, a lyrical metaphor, or a thoughtful insight WORD Christchurch is the place in Ōtautahi to get a great quote. Our library WORD correspondents have picked their favourite pearls of wisdom from the WORD Christchurch 2022 sessions they attended.

On writing (and readers)

"It's better to write a book that some people love rather than a book everyone likes."

Sascha Stronach

"My role is as a servant, or a vessel of the story..." 

Whiti Hereaka

"It's not too strong to say the health and wealth of the nation depends on it." 

Kate De Goldi on promoting literacy for our young people, and how it has declined in recent years.

“As a writer, I'm thinking about myself as a reader.”

Patrick Radden Keefe

Patrick Radden Keefe at The Faraway Near
Patrick Radden Keefe at The Faraway Near, Friday 2 September 2022.

“I failed high school and I’m dyslexic. I did it [wrote novels], you can do it.”

Dominic Hoey offers encouragement to budding writers.

“... the sulphur on the head of a match”

Rachel Kushner on capturing authenticity in her characters and her approach to writing.

“Inside books and daydreams she can be happy ... the bone people is a book that carries this word magic, It's a book that holds all the hardest things she has seen in her short life already ...”

Tina Makereti on Keri Hulme, reading from her Word Magic story

"I can't be James Joyce. Sorry, honey."

Coco Solid on using her own authentic voice

".... that's just the kind of people we have in Glen Eden train station."

Rebecca K. Reilly on writing "diverse" characters just as a result of noticing the people who are around you.

“Everything is found art ... you look under a rock and see what you find.”

Patrick Radden Keefe


"We knew what was coming." 

Emily St. John Mandel talking about her experiences in New York during the pandemic, and people not wearing masks or doing the right thing to keep others safe, if it slightly inconvenienced them. 

"I realised that I really missed meeting readers. This is a part for me - just think of the lovely things people say to me over the years. My books cover different topics so there are special moments talking to people. This is important to me. "

Lianne Moriarty talking about difficulties in meeting readers caused by pandemics.

"Never a dull moment, eh?"

David Mitchell understating it somewhat.

Emotions were had

"They're so forgiving, your past selves, because all they've ever wanted is your love."

Clementine Ford

"Every death is particular and felt in a particular way."

Megan Dunn discussing her uncle's suicide.

"How do we have the bravery that goes along with that kindness?" 

Mohammed Hassan

“I felt like I had imposter syndrome but the person I was trying to be was myself." 

Nicky Pellegrino on perimenopause and menopause

"Maybe this is just a drop in the ocean but what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"

David Mitchell being optimistic

"...reaching out into the ether... for some kind of power, strength or hope or anything seemed really radical to see on live television."

Ottessa Moshfegh on Demi Lovato's halting 2020 Grammy Awards performance of her song, Anyone.

Te Ao Māori

“Speaking Māori in our homes is an act of mana motuhake that we can do any day.”

“Every act of speaking Māori is courageous and I believe it calls our ancestors to us.”


From a session with Qiane Matata-Sipu,  Stacey Morrison and Georgia Latu

“This is a solid piece of history, this is good history which is not based on literature theory but is an account of movement and action.”

Professor Te Maire Tau regarding Ross Calman’s book, He pukapuka tātaku i ngā mahi a te Rauparaha nui – A Record of the life of the great Te Rauparaha

“Embedding our narrative into the landscape through the revival of our tipuna place names. Weaving our words into our architecture so my town or city reflects me. Naturalising not only our stories but more importantly our reo which has been systematically estranged from us.”

“Spaces where, as indigenous peoples, we can dare to dream our dream without having to explain or justify, relieved of that ‘sense of duty’ eating into our creativity. Within those spaces there are no assumptions about who we are, we qualify."

"Our story is known not mood boarded, we are the true source.”

He Waiata Hou: Indigenous Writers Forum

“We must own our own memories.”

Tā Tīpene O’Regan

“We must remember to remember to remember.”

Dr Michael Stevens referencing Tā Tīpene O’Regan regarding the importance of telling our stories.

"Understanding the responsibility of being good stewards of knowledge, collective ownership of knowledge, accountability to the collective and how to be accountable when you’re not part of that collective, tuakana and teina mentoring’"

Kera Sherwood-O’Regan

"We've got 40 minutes left. How can we decolonise speculative fiction?"

Karen Healey, throwing down a wero.

"Long ago in a galaxy that we conveniently inhabit..."

Corban Henare Te Aika, as written by Juanita Hepi, introducing a traditional tale of Māori gods in a non-traditional way

It is people, it is people... you know what, maybe it's not people?

“Society needs to be a place where you know someone will step in.”

Mohammed Hassan

Mohamed Hassan at The Piano
Mohamed Hassan at The Piano, Friday 2 September 2022.

“If belonging is a state of being, it is a verb.”

Mohammed Hassan

"We don't really value compassion."

Inequalities journalist Max Rashbrooke explains why pay rates in the aged care sector are so low.

 “The rise of the sour right, elements of them are beginning to manifest themselves here. We’ve always had Nazis … they’ve now crept out into the body politic.”

Former Attorney-General Chris Finlayson reflects on some of the angry voices that are demanding attention in New Zealand's political sphere.

“I didn’t want to sit in a caravan and listen to nutters tell me about their problems.”

Former Attorney-General Chris Finlayson admits he was not a fan of constituency work when he was a Member of Parliament. 

"Wealth is like a mental illness."

Author Dominic Hoey tries to explain the extreme behaviour of some rich members of our society. 

"... it's not ALL trauma bonding"

Coco Solid on her community of supportive women.

Good to know

" goes off like a hand grenade."

Sascha Stronach on researching microwaves and why you shouldn't put a brick inside one.

"Some people don't want a poem in a book, about their vagina..."

Nicole Titihuia Hawkins on getting permission to include some poems in her book, Whai.

"Why is the male spider dancing? The reason for dancing is the male goes to the female saying, "look at me, I can dance. Would I be a good dad?"

Simon Pollard communicates with young readers on scientific topics in plain language.

"... sometimes you want "the galloping thunder... the voice like a barn falling to pieces".

David Mitchell on the appeal of Neil Young and Crazy Horse.

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