WORD Writers & Readers Festival 2016 – Bringing the BIG names to town!

The biennial book binge that is the WORD Writers & Readers Festival is back for 2016, and the programme launched tonight at The Press building on Gloucester Street is bursting with authorial tastiness.


Christchurch will play host to over 150 writers and speakers over four crazy, crazy days and nights on the 24th to the 28th August. The range of events embraces the standard hour-long author talk, panel debates, poetry readings, book launches, a comedy panel show, Pechakucha night, exhibitions, workshops, storytelling, the Ngaio Marsh Award Ceremony for Best Crime Novel, lectures, family events, a historical walking tour and a fringe festival. Blimey.

Literary Director Rachael King has put together a programme with themes that cover the full torrid schmozzle of humanity: life and death, gender, sexuality, indigenous rights, migration, the climate and yes, even the F-word …feminism.

image_proxySome stand-out events include:

No Sex Please, We’re Teenagers
Young Adult novelists David Levithan, Ted Dawe and sex-therapist Frances Young discuss with chair Mandy Hager the role of sex in literature. What are the risks and rewards?

Tim Flannery, Mai Chen, Bronwyn Hayward and Shelia Watt-Cloutier chaired by Kim Hill paint a picture of earth in 2050 with reference to climate, diversity, indigenous rights and citizenship. Utopia or dystopia?

Busted: Feminism & Pop Culture
Debbie Stoller is the co-founder and editor of BUST magazine and authored the Stitch n Bitch craft series. She talks craftiness and feminism.

Oratory on the Ōtākaro (Avon River)
Join Joseph Hullen for a 40 minute tour and discover the rich shared Māori and European history of the river Avon.

The programme is positively bulging with energising, stimulating and inspiring book-ish events, so unleash the Christchurch culture vultures!

WORD Christchurch: Moata’s picks of the festival


It’s out. The programme for Ōtautahi’s own literary festival, WORD Christchurch. And oh, it is chock full of goodies for anyone wanting to open their brains and fill them with bright, shiny ideas for a few days (25-28 August).

It also takes place in a bright, shiny new building namely in musical sounding The Piano Centre for Music and The Arts on Armagh St, just west of New Regent Street.

The festival programme is a refreshingly broad one that takes in the full scope of that which might fall under the umbrella of “literature”. There’s bound to be something on the schedule to tempt. Here’s my very cut-down wishlist (the full un-expurgated version is exhaustive and exhausting).

Picks of WORD Christchurch 2016

C1 Book Launch 1
Artwork from C1’s book about Christchurch’s quake-damaged buildings

C1 Book Launch: Let’s take a walk (Wednesday 24 August 6pm) C1 Espresso is one of my favourite post-quake places in town and owners Sam and Fleur Crofskey have been positively flabbergasting in their ability to imagine and innovate anything from a front counter clad in Lego to curly fries whizzing past diners in Lanson tubes. So why wouldn’t they also be publishing a book about the aftermath of the quakes? This session is a) free and b) in close proximity to aforementioned curly fries.

How are we doing, Christchurch? (Friday 26 August 11.15am – 12.15pm) If there’s one thing that Christchurch people have grown a taste for it’s talking about ourselves and our post-quake lives. This session will have Sam Crofskey of C1, Robyn Wallace of He Oranga Pounamu, Katie Pickles author of Christchurch Ruptures, Ciaran Fox of All Right? and Bronwyn Hayward. It’s another free event and I’m thinking it’ll make for a good chat to listen in on.

Reading favourites (Friday 26 August 2.15 – 3.15pm) Everybody’s got reading favourites and so do writers. Will Chris Tse, David Hill and Jolisa Gracewood treasure the same Kiwi literature that I do? Only one way to find out. Yet another free event, chaired by novelist and Academy of New Zealand Literature setter-upper Paula Morris.

Kiwi YA author, Ted Dawe
Kiwi YA author, Ted Dawe

No sex please, we’re teenagers (Friday 26 August 5.15 – 6.15pm) Anyone who was fascinated by the “yes it’s censored-no it’s not-yes it is” controversy surrounding Ted Dawe’s YA novel Into the River will want to pull up a pew at this one. Also discussing the vagaries of writing sex for teenage readers are international bestseller David Levithan, and sexual therapist Frances Young. Chaired by YA author Mandy Hager.

The Stars are on Fire (Friday 26 August 7.30 – 8.45pm) Seven writers take turns telling tales of burning passions in the Isaac Theatre Royal. Also John Campbell is there, probably being effusive. That’ll do me.

Read it again! Picture book readings (Saturday 27 August
1 – 1.30pm) As the parent of a toddler I’m always keen to have someone else take a turn with the picture book reading, or to find new books that spark young imaginations. Another free event with readings from Kiwi authors David Hill, and Mary Cowen and Lynne McAra.

Busted: Feminism and Pop Culture (Saturday 27 August 11am – 12pm) Things I’m into – feminism, pop culture. This really is a no-brainer for me as co-founder and editor of Bust magazine, Debbie Stoller talks all things lady with Charlotte Graham.

Cities of Tomorrow: A better life? (Saturday 27 August 5 – 6.15pm) City-building is never far from my mind these days and it’s not even my area of expertise but it is for Barnaby Bennett, Marie-Anne Gobert, Mark Todd and Cécile Maisonneuve. Kim Hill will be leading the discussion.

Duncan Greive of The Spinoff
Duncan Greive, Editor of The Spinoff

The Spinoff After Dark (Saturday 27 August 10 – 11pm) Modern media website, The Spinoff has become my go-to for news, opinion, and entertainment in the last year or so. I expect a rollicking good time at C1 with The Spinoff crew of Duncan Greive, Alex Casey, Toby Manhire and a nominally in charge Steve Braunias. Also, is the name of this session a “Peach Pit After Dark, Beverley Hills 90210” allusion? I like to imagine so…

The State of America (Sunday 28 August 12.30pm – 1.30pm) I went to a similar, identically titled in fact, session at the Auckland Writers Festival. How will this one compare? I’m looking forward to finding out. With three Americans historian Peter S. Field, political scientist Amy Fletcher, and TV writer and novelist Steve Hely there should be a good mix of perspective with journalist Paula Penfold probing for answers on the confusing world of US politics.

Caitlin Doughty, Author and mortician

Ask a mortician: Caitlin Doughty (Sunday 28 August
2 – 3pm) You had me at the words “funny” and “mortician”. Caitlin Doughty, presenter of Ask a Mortician web series and author of Smoke gets in your eyes and other lessons from the crematory will be part of a morbid discussion with… the Christchurch coroner, Marcus Elliot. Priceless (but not actually, tickets $17 or $19).

The Nerd Degree (Sunday 28 August 5 – 6pm) It’s a podcast. It’s a nerdy pop culture quiz game. It’s humorous and improvised and I do love it and it’s part of the festival. Nerds battle nerds, in this case Brendon Bennetts, ITV science correspondent Alok Jha, YA author Karen Healey, cult film director Andrew Todd and mortician Caitlin Doughty.

There’s actually a heap more things but I’ll probably be lucky to manage these. What are your picks for the festival?

Celebrate our Olympians with Golden Kiwis

The 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro are now only a few weeks away. They start on 5 August and run until 21 August. There are around 350 athletes and support staff that make up this year’s New Zealand Olympic team. I wonder how many medals we will win this time?

New Zealand author David Riley has just written a great book all about the amazing athletes who have won gold medals at the Olympic Games over the years. The book is called Golden Kiwis and David takes us on a journey through ‘100 years of Kiwi excellence in the Olympic Games.’

David gives us some background information on the Olympic Games, from the very first Olympics in Greece in 8BC through to the modern Olympics of today that started in 1896. You then learn about the outstanding sporting feats of all of our gold medal winners, from our very first with Malcolm Champion (great name for an athlete!) in 1912, through to Valerie Adams and Lisa Carrington. It’s great to see that Golden Paralympians like Sophie Pascoe are also included in the book.

There are some really great features of this book that I like. There are heaps of photos of the athletes, especially the action shots of them competing in their sports. One of the coolest features of the book is that David has included QR codes with each athlete so that you can scan the code and watch a video of them competing and winning.

Golden Kiwis is an inspiring book that just goes to prove you can achieve your goals if you set your mind to it.

We have an author interview with David Riley and here is a video of him talking about his book, Golden Kiwis:

If you want to find out more about the Olympics and New Zealand sportspeople try these:

We also have a great page about the Olympics for kids on our website so check that out for more information and links to other great websites.

New Zealand International Film Festival 2016

Last night the Christchurch programme for the New Zealand International Film Festival was released and as usual, in amongst a programme that really does have something for everyone, there’s a healthy clutch of literary offerings.

Every year the New Zealand International Film Festival screens a range of films over a two week period. The 2016 Christchurch festival runs from 28 July to 14 August.

Literary films at the Festival

Several of the films at the Festival are based on books, or are on the subject of writers. Portions of the following list have been kindly supplied by the Festival organisers.

Cover of The History PlaysChimes at Midnight
Thanks to an astonishingly crisp restoration, Orson Welles’ 1965 Shakespearean masterpiece lives anew. Welles gives a mammoth performance as the Bard’s tragic fool Falstaff, along with John Gielgud as Henry IV and Keith Baxter as Hal. Chimes at Midnight is based on a compendium of Shakespeare’s history plays – Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II, Henry V, and The Merry Wives of Windsor.

The Daughter
The most lauded Australian drama of the last year, this bold, superbly acted debut from acclaimed theatre director Simon Stone reimagines Ibsen’s The Wild Duck in a contemporary small town.

The Handmaiden
Based on Welsh novelist Sarah Waters’ Fingersmith, this outrageous and lusciously erotic thriller from the director of Oldboy transposes a Victorian tale of sex, duplicity and madness to 1930s Japanese-occupied Korea.

Cover of High RiseHigh-rise
In Ben Wheatley’s ambitious, wildly disorienting adaptation of the J.G. Ballard novel, tenants of a high-tech skyscraper slip into a literal class war. Starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller and Elisabeth Moss. (Read our blog post about the novel, High-rise: J. G. Ballard’s Vertical Zoo)

The Idealist
A plane crash, government corruption and nuclear warheads are just some of the ingredients for this taut Danish docu-drama, set in the aftermath of the Cold War. Based on a book by the award-winning journalist Poul Brink.

Adapted from Philip Roth’s autobiographical novel of the same name, Indignation is an incisive, affecting drama of embattled individuality on a 50s American campus. With Logan Lerman and Sarah Gadon.

Cover of Life, animatedLife, Animated
This incredibly moving and fascinating doco takes us into the interior life of autistic Owen Suskind, and explores how his love of Disney animated features gave him the tools as a child to communicate with the world. Based on the book by Ron Suskind.

Not your conventional biopic, this enthralling dramatic exploration of the legacy of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda conjures up a fiction in which he is pursued into political exile by an incompetent detective played by Gael García Bernal.

Vanessa Gould’s fond and fascinating documentary introduces us to the unseen women and men responsible for crafting the obituaries of the New York Times.

A Quiet Passion
Cynthia Nixon, Jennifer Ehle and Keith Carradine star in Terence Davies’ lively, witty and ultimately intensely moving dramatisation of the sheltered life of 19th-century New England poet Emily Dickinson.

Cover of The rehearsalThe Rehearsal
In Alison Maclean’s vibrant screen adaptation of Eleanor Catton’s debut novel, a first-year acting student (James Rolleston) channels the real-life experience of his girlfriend’s family into art and sets off a moral minefield.

Sunset Song
“Terence Davies’s Sunset Song is a movie with a catch or sob in its singing voice: a beautifully made and deeply felt adaptation of Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel of rural Scotland.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt
This new documentary provides insight and historical perspective on the life and work of philosopher Hannah Arendt, illuminating her relevance to some of the most troubling phenomena of our own times.

More information

Ngā Rorohiko (electric brains) and more Te Reo Māori in the library

Kia ora. Here are some resources to help you find what library things are called in Māori.

Te reo Maori cards

Bicultural signage at Christchurch City Libraries Ngā Kete Wānanga O-Ōtautahi has the library-related word or phrase in English, with an MP3 sample of it in te reo Māori, and a more descriptive explanation of the meaning.

For example:

Computers Descriptive: Electric brains Ngā Rorohiko Ngā Ro-ro-hi-ko
Self Issue Descriptive: It is for you to despatch Māu e Tuku Mā-u e Tu-ku

For more library words in te reo, try Bilingual signs list from He Puna: a Maori language resource for librarians compiled by Hinureina Mangan & Chris Szekely. This useful resource compiles words, subjects, and terms from libraries all around Aotearoa – from Abstracts “kupu arahi” to the Young Adult section “te wāhanga ki te hunga taiohi“.

I can see the following coming in handy:

  • take aronui – hot topics
  • pukapuka hou – new books

All our libraries have names in Te Reo Māori, and you can borrow your books on the Māu e Tuku in Te Reo Māori.

Te Reo Māori self checkout

Go to our Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori post for more information on Māori Language Week.

Hits and misses with MyHeritage

I do dabble in family history research as I am fascinated by the names and stories that make up me. I am not alone as family history as a hobby is increasingly popular. There are dead ends, misleading entries and then – Bingo! –  a lead and you are off on the chase again.


Due to the popularity of family history research, big business has gotten involved and now most family history library edition eResources such as Ancestry and Find My Past are available in libraries only. This ensures the popularity of individual subscriptions for those who like to seek out new family branches from the comfort of home.

db-My-Heritage-CKEY879406There is though one exception to this rule and that is MyHeritage which is the only genealogical eResource libraries offer that can be accessed from home. By using MyHeritage you can see:

Census of England and Wales (1841-1901) and the USA federal census (1790-1940) with images;

1.5 billion exclusive family tree profiles;

Millions of cemetery headstones and historical photographs;

Government, land and court records including citizenship and naturalization records;

Wills and probate records.

I had a quick play recently and found myself rather taken aback on two levels. Firstly some of the family tree profiles were incorrect which annoyed the hell out of me – family trees can be submitted by any MyHeritage members. Secondly I found myself looking at pictures of my Great Grandfather and my Great Great Grandfather which I had never seen before. Family history research is full of hits and misses and MyHeritage is no exception. If you have yet to explore this new tool then please do. It may just provide the lead you need to progress your search.