29 Aug 2018
Christchurch will be transformed into a haven of ideas, conversation, stories, poetry and prose as more than 120 writers, thinkers, commentators and performers from New Zealand and around the world take part in the WORD Christchurch Festival.
The festival – which runs from August 29 to September 2 – officially opens at 7.30pm with a sold-out event at the Piano. Keynote speaker Robyn Davidson embodies the spirit of this year’s adventurous theme: 40 years ago she walked 2700 kilometers across the Australian desert with four camels and a dog for company. Her journey became the book Tracks. Her story will be punctuated by stunning photographs from National Geographic’s Rick Smolan.
WORD Christchurch programme director Rachael King hopes Cantabrians will venture to see writers they may not have come across before, as well as coming along to hear their favourites.
“Cantabrians are great adventurers, and a number of our sessions reflect that spirit of adventure. But we also challenge people to be adventurous in their programme choices – to challenge themselves. We guarantee all our speakers, so festival goers won’t be disappointed.”
On Thursday, 500 secondary students will experience the power of poetry and story in the free Inspiring Writers programme. Thursday evening’s public events have proved very popular and many have already sold out.
From Friday morning, the festival will be in full swing. Events will run from 10am to 11pm throughout the weekend, including an evening with Helen Clark, celebrations of women’s suffrage, a panel on Brexit (Disunited Kingdom?), the presentation of the 2018 Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel, free and ticketed children’s and family events, and five writers from featured country Scotland.
Guest authors include international bestseller A.J. Finn (The Woman in the Window), poetry superstar Hollie McNish, Shaun Bythell (Diary of a Bookseller), New Zealand writers Tom Scott, Lloyd Jones, Diana Wichtel, Paul Cleave, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Hera Lindsay Bird, Michelle Dickinson (Nanogirl) and Lilia Tarawa (Daughter of Gloriavale), whose Christchurch TedX talk has been viewed more than 4 million times on YouTube.
Chessie Henry will launch her extraordinary family memoir We Can Make a Life, which among other things looks at her father’s role in the CTV rescue following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. Topics explored by international guests include the rise of the alt-right in Trump’s America (David Neiwert), an insight into Islam (Ed Husain), the secret life of trees (Jonathan Drori), the lure of the sea (Philip Hoare), and radical self-love (Sonya Renee Taylor).
Many of this year’s highlight sessions have sold out or are close to selling out. While key events such as 125 Years: Where Are We Now and The Great WORD Debate are sold out, there are still a few tickets left to other big events such as Helen Clark: Women Equality, Power; and Adventurous Women – but these are not expected to last long. A second session of Adventurers at Heart, with extreme sports stars Nathan Fa’avae and John Hellemans, was added due to popular demand and only has a few tickets left.
“I encourage all those thinking about coming along to book soon to avoid missing out,” King said.
WORD Christchurch warmly thanks its major funders Christchurch City Council, Creative New Zealand and the Rata Foundation; platinum partners Heartland Bank and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu; gold partners University of Canterbury and Kathmandu; festival and session sponsors Milford Asset Management, Kate Sylvester, Harcourts Gold, Pegasus Health and the Listener; and all our festival patrons and supporters, partners and supporting publishers.
A full calendar of events and details of all the featured NZ and international authors is available on the website: wordchristchurch.co.nz
Tickets are on sale from www.dashtickets.co.nz.