I give you my WORD: My picks of WORD Christchurch 2022

Decisions, decisions, decisions. I have had a fossick among all the goodies of the WORD Christchurch Festival 2022 and here are ten sessions on my hitlist, with a little info on why I have picked them. In chronological order.

Te Piki o Tāwhaki - The Ascent of Tāwhaki
Wednesday 31 August: 6.30 to 7pm or 8 to 8.30pm
FREE! Find out more

Why? Because this is a transformation of a building I love, showing one of the stories at its heart

Tūranga will be transformed by a special 30 minute performance. The story of Tāwhaki is woven into Tūranga - it's "a tale of mana and tapu, lightning and thunder, intrigue, revenge – and the odd bawdy joke". The audience will gather around the central staircase on balconies to and "Tāwhaki will fly you to the heavens in pursuit of matauraka, the knowledge of the gods". This show is created by artistic director Juanita Hepi (Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāi Tukairangi) and master storyteller Joseph Hullen (Ngāi Tūāhuriri / Ngāti Hinematua), and presented by singer and taonga puoro virtuoso Ariana Tikao (Ngāi Tahu) and kapa haka leader Corban Te Aika(Ngāi Tahu). This is a first in, first served performance, so if you are keen - make sure you get in early.
Find out more about the cultural narrative in Tūranga

Magazine in residence: Takahē
Thursday 1 September to Sunday 4 September 12noon to 4pm
FREE! Find out more

Why? Because I want to spur myself to write something and submit it - but mainly to see a zine get made! 

See them editing and laying out the limited-edition zine, with artists and writers present to show their process, plus short talks from special guests. On Sunday at 4pm in Foundation, help to launch the finished product with readings and toasts. Submit your poetry and short fiction (up to 1000 words) in te reo or English in person, or via email at submissions@takahe.org.nz.

David Mitchell and Tiny Ruins
Thursday 1 September 8.30pm to 10pm
Book Tickets

Why? I love Tiny Ruins' ethereal music & David Mitchell is a phenomenal writer - so am eager to hear what the two have made together.

A world-exclusive collaboration between story and song. Acclaimed British writer David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas, Utopia Avenue) will digitally join one of New Zealand’s most cherished singer-songwriters, Hollie Fullbrook of Tiny Ruins, for a unique and intimate performance. During 2020’s lockdown, Hollie reimagined prose by David as songs, while he reimagined songs by Tiny Ruins as short fiction. If I Were a Story and You Were a Song presents their cross-pollinated co-creation: a mosaic of bewitching music and reflective stories. WORD is thrilled to finally bring you this show, postponed from 2021, curated and introduced by Rachael King


Books by David Mitchell

The Faraway Near: Patrick Radden Keefe
Friday 2 September 12noon to 1pm
Book Tickets

Why? Because Empire of Pain: The Secret history of the Sackler Dynasty is rich with forensic detail as well as an absolute pageturner. 

I haven't read Patrick's new book, but I am hanging out for it as Empire of Pain SLAYYYED. Patrick will be in conversation with fellow journo Guyon Espiner, so I am picking this will be a meaty discussion
PS I think I heard on RNZ this morning that Patrick will be talking to Kim Hill on Saturday Morning 5 August. Tune in. 



Books by Patrick Radden Keefe

How to be (a bad) Muslim
Friday 2 September 3.30pm to 4.30pm
Book Tickets

Why? Because I LOVE personal essays where people talk about their life and the world, and Mohamed's book sounds very much in this vein - and is garnering rave reviews. 

Journalist, poet and observer of human behaviour Mohamed Hassan asks what it means to be Muslim in the 21st century. Curious and direct, he examines the political and personal dimensions of his own identity, whether it’s fighting off bullies as a kid in New Zealand, reporting from Istanbul, dealing with surveillance and racial profiling at Los Angeles airport or revelling in the power of 1990s grunge. In conversation with Dr Hafsa Ahmed.



Books by Mohamed Hassan

Keri Hulme: He Kōtuku Rereka Tahi
Friday 2 September 8.30pm to 10pm
Book Tickets (also available as livestream)

Why? Because Keri Hulme is in Aotearoa's Literary Pantheon and it's a rare and special occasion in which she will be celebrated. 

‘He Kōtuku Rereka Tahi’ evokes a glimpse of the rare white heron in flight, and it’s used to describe someone of great mana who is rarely seen. WORD Christchurch presents a very special night of storytelling, whisky and guitars to celebrate the life and art of the brilliant Keri Hulme (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe, 1947–2021). Pour yourself a dram and settle in as our guests share a passage from Keri’s work that has moved them, then respond with a specially commissioned piece of their own. With Stacey Morrison as your host, be transported by Whiti HereakaTina Makareti and Ariana Tikao live on stage, and Patricia Grace and Marian Evans via video link. We welcome representatives of Keri’s whānau, Matt Salmons and Anna Hulme, to read some of Keri’s early unpublished work. And you can glimpse her life through some of her favourite songs, performed live. Bring your copy of the bone people. Not to be missed. This session will be held live for in-person audiences, and offered as a livestream for at-home viewing.


Books by Keri Hulme

Indelible: Tattoo tales
Saturday 3 September: 6.30pm to 7.30pm
Book tickets

Why? Because I want a new tattoo. 

"Aren't we all books bound in human skin?"  Thus quoth The Unlikely Librarian (Mike from Tūranga) who has helped organise a special event in which we'll hear storytellers telling the stories of their ink including artist Wayne Youle, poet Rebecca Nash, award-winning novelist and playwright (and solid contender for NZ's most stylish writer) Whiti Hereaka, writer and poet Philip Armstrong, and writer Arielle Kauaeroa Monk.

It's not just talk, I am pondering which quote to get tattooed - Absolution Tattoo is offering a special WORD Christchurch rate of $150 on flash tattoos. $50 from each tattoo done goes to support WORD.
Possible lit tatts:

James Joyce / Molly Bloom:

"I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes."

My main man John Donne:

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I
Did, till we loved?

The Tennyson quote that matched my current tattoo:

But ere he dipt the surface, rose an arm
Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful,
And caught him by the hilt, and brandish'd him
Three times, and drew him under in the mere.


Anyway, enough of my ramblings! Listen to Mike chat with Poppia:

Nuku: 100 kickass indigenous women
Saturday 3 September 3pm to 4pm
Book Tickets (also available as livestream)

Why? Because this book introduced me to 100 women who impressed me so much. 

Qiane Matata-Sipu’sgroundbreaking multimedia NUKU project brings together 100 leading indigenous women, from entrepreneurs to change-makers to artists, with a single goal: to tell their stories on their own terms. Qiane takes the stage with three dynamic women featured in the NUKU book: broadcaster and te reo champion Stacey Morrison, 15-year-old CEO and author Georgia Latu and poet and leadership executive Dr Karlo Mila MNZMCome along for an hour of generous kōrero, followed by all-in chats and kai in the foyer outside.



Sunday 4 September 12noon to 1pm
Book Tickets (also available as livestream)

Why? Because I am perimenopausal and it sucks, but Nicky's book gave me hope - and information. 

Respected writer Nicky Pellegrino and journalist, mother and author Miriama Kamo join forces for a candid and witty conversation about the realities of menopause, and how to navigate this often-challenging phase of life.


Don't Sweat It

More menopause books

Crime after crime: Ngaio Marsh Awards edition
Thursday 15 September 6.30pm to 7.45pm
Book Tickets

Why? Because my Dad is so excited about this, and I want to go with him. 

My favourite literary event companion is my Dad, especially for crime and mystery writers. He's a connoisseur and has met some of the best via WORD Christchurch - Ian Rankin, Camilla Lackberg, Michael Robotham ... He;s amped at this session:

Three global crime-writing heavyweights crack open their notebooks for a conversation about the inner workings of the criminal mind, the challenge of understanding people who do terrible things – and why readers find such dark material so hard to put down.

Val McDermid, the Queen of Crime, Michael Robotham, Australia’s hottest crime writer, and J.P. Pomare, Aotearoa’s finest crime writing export, examine the flawed characters of their famous protagonists – and whether writing about menace and violence impacts their own lives. In conversation with Vanda Symon.

Following the discussion, Val and Michael will present the 2022 Ngaio Marsh Awards for Best Novel and Best First Novel. Find out which of Aotearoa’s talented writers of mystery, thriller and crime will take home these coveted prizes.



Michael Robotham and Dennis. 2015. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. 2015-08-26-IMG_8922
Michael Robotham and Dad 2015. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Flickr 2015-08-26-IMG_8922

See you there!

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