Quick questions with Frankie McMillan – WORD Christchurch

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Frankie McMillan is an award-winning short story writer and poet and teacher, the author of The Bag Lady’s Picnic and other stories and two poetry collections, including There are no horses in heaven. Her latest book, My Mother and the Hungarians and other small fictions, is being launched during the festival.

Frankie McMillan (photo credit: Andy Lukey)
Frankie McMillan (photo credit: Andy Lukey)

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I like the proximity of the Port Hills, the various walking and biking tracks, the new art galleries popping up, watching the rebuild take place but most of all having my family members live nearby.

What do you think about libraries?

I’m interested in the changing role of libraries. I’m heartened to hear how Auckland Central library caters for the homeless with a regular book club and movie club. Libraries are fantastic places.

What would be your “desert island book”?

I’d take ‘The Collected Stories of Flannery O’Connor’

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

In my thirties I trained in physical/improvisational theatre including skills such as fire breathing. Once I stood on the shoulders of my friend and blew out such a massive ball of flame it scorched the theatre ceiling.

Frankie McMillan appears in:

Cover of My mother and the HungariansMore

Win an interview, VIP afternoon tea with Andy Griffiths, & two tickets to his show!

Christchurch kids, you can win the chance to interview Andy Griffiths and share a VIP afternoon tea in town with him – as well as two tickets to see his show – thanks to WORD Christchurch and Macmillan!

Have you read all of Andy Griffiths’ books? Do you know all the floors in the 78-storey Treehouse? Have you read The Bad Book over and over? If you answered yes to all these questions we have the most amazing chance for you!

Andy Griffiths, the author of the Treehouse series, the ‘Just’ series and The Bad Book, is coming to Christchurch on Friday 16 September for a special presentation by WORD Christchurch. Andy is going to be talking at a SOLD OUT session on the Friday night, as well as a morning session at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre on Saturday 17 September.

But wait, there’s more! You can win the chance to interview Andy Griffiths while having a VIP afternoon tea with him. All you have to do is email competition@ccc.govt.nz and tell us the one question that you would ask Andy if you had the chance to interview him. Make sure to include your name, phone number and address so that we can contact you if you win.

This prize includes afternoon tea with Andy Griffiths for you and a caregiver at 3:30pm on Friday 16 September, and tickets for two to his show at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre on Saturday 17 September.

Competition closes Wednesday 7 September.

Thanks to publishers Macmillan and WORD Christchurch for bringing Andy to town! The WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival kicks off today (Wednesday 24 August) and includes cool events for the whole whānau.

Terms and conditions

  • To enter this competition you must be between 8 and 13 years old and live in Christchurch. We may ask for proof of your address and your age.
  • If you are a winner, you consent to your name, photograph, entry and/or interview being used for reasonable publicity purposes by Christchurch City Libraries.
  • The winner must be available to come to the afternoon tea at 3:30pm on Friday 16 September.
  • The winner must bring a caregiver to the afternoon tea with Andy Griffiths.
  • Staff of Christchurch City Libraries and their immediate families are not able to enter.
  • The competition ends on Wednesday 7 September at 6pm.
  • We will notify the winner by telephone and/or email on Friday 9 September.
  • The judge’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Prizes are as stated and are not transferable.
Image supplied.
Andy Griffiths. Image supplied.

Poetry Ōtautahi – National Poetry Day, Friday 26 August 2016

National Poetry Day is on this Friday 26 August. Poetry Day events in Canterbury are listed on the 2016 Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day website:

Events on National Poetry Day – Friday 26 August

National Poetry Day Celebration Readings 12.30pm at Scorpio Bookshop in Hereford Street. Winners of the Hagley Institute 2016 Poetry Day competition will be announced by judge James Norcliffe and there will be readings from Frankie McMillan, Bernadette Hall, Christina Starchurski, Teoti Jardine, Jeni Curtis, Marisa Cappetta, Rose Collins and the competition winners. Part of  WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival.

WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival has a strong programme of poetry including the following sessions on Poetry Day itself:

Poetry in the Aotearoa New Zealand Centre

More poetry events

Thursday 25 August

Speaking proud Thursday 25 August 6pm. Event to raise funds to continue the work of Q-topia, an organisation that supports LGBTQIA+ Youth in Canterbury.

New Regent Street Pop up Festival  Thursday 25 August, 6pm – this WORD Christchurch event includes Lady Poets at Shop Eight – a badass, subversive poetry show like no other! Lady Poets celebrates the voices and stories of women and genderqueer poets and performers. MC: Audrey Baldwin. and Catalyst at The Last Word Catalyst is a literary arts journal committed to experimental and non-traditional creative forms: song lyrics, script/screenplay excerpts, spoken word, rap, visual poetry, and more.

Saturday 27 August

Poetry events at WORD:

Hear my voice Christchurch performers Sophie Rea, Daisy Speaks and Tusiata Avia are current National Poetry Slam champ Mohamed Hassan, former US National Poetry Slam champ Ken Arkind, fast talking PI Selina Tusitala Marsh and internationally renowned Canadian storyteller and writer Ivan E. Coyote. MCed by Ciarán Fox

Poetry at Parklands – the Poet within
2pm. Parklands Library draws on “the poet within”, within the Christchurch City Libraries that is. That’s right, many of our librarians are writers too. Instead of dispensing poetry books on the day after National Poetry Day, four of our librarian-poets will be reading their own work. The poets are Damien Taylor, Rob Lees, Dylan Kemp and Andrew Bell.

Sunday 28 August

More WORD poetry events including:

Poetry spots in Christchurch

Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker

Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker. Victoria Street, Christchurch. Flickr 013-07-30

Go down to The Terraces and see the poetry on the banks by Apirana Taylor. Wander further afield and see Ōtākaro to Victoria nā Hinemoana Baker at a mini-park at 108 Victoria Street. There are also poems on power poles on Victoria Street: Whakapapa by Ariana Tikao, and Victoria Street by Ben Brown. There are always fab poems about the town thanks to Phantom Poetry posters as provided by Phantom Billstickers.

Poems in your pocket

Why not put some poetry in your pocket? Download this year’s poems from the National Poetry Day website including one by WORD Christchurch guest Tusiata Avia.


WORD Finder: Things to do in Christchurch – WORD Christchurch

Kia ora, welcome to Ōtautahi if you are in town for the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival. Here’s some things to check out while you are here – with a focus on the central city, where this year’s WORD takes place.


Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker
Poetry nā Hinemoana Baker. Victoria Street, Christchurch. Flickr 013-07-30

Go down to The Terraces  and see the poetry on the banks by Apirana Taylor. Wander further afield and see Ōtākaro to Victoria nā Hinemoana Baker at a mini-park at 108 Victoria Street. There are also poems on power poles on Victoria Street: Whakapapa by Ariana Tikao, and Victoria Street by Ben Brown.


The splendid University Bookshop UBS will be on site at festival venues.

Scorpio Books is in the new BNZ complex at 120 Hereford Street if you want to wander to a bookshop in town and browse. They will be hosting National Poetry Day readings on Friday 26 August.

(If you want to browse old books as well as new, try Smiths Bookshop at the Tannery).

Arty types

Biochemic handbook by Natasha Allan
Biochemic handbook by Natasha Allan. Carpe Librum: Seize the book exhibition. ArtBox, Ara Institute. Flickr 2016-08-17-IMG_5568

Carpe Librum: Seize the book is on show at the Artbox by the Ara Institute in Madras Street. We’ve taken some photos – it is stunning.

Christchurch people are very proud of our Christchurch Art Gallery – the people as well as the building and exhibitions. Some WORD events take place here. Take the opportunity to check out the exhibition Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933 – 1953 that ties in with Peter Simpson’s new book – he’ll be presenting a session as well as the book launch. (Book your tickets for Bloomsbury South, Sat 27 Aug, 4pm). Other shows are well worth a look including Doris Lusk and Fiona Pardington.

There’s an Antony Gormley sculpture in the river called Stay. And HEAPS more cool public art and street art.

Stay by Antony Gormley
Stay by Antony Gormley. SCAPE Public Art. Flickr 2015-10-4-IMG_9872

Libraries (and free wifi)

As a librarian, it behoves me to plug our temporary central libraries. Central Library Manchester (not open on Sunday) – 1.2 km from The Piano – and Central Library Peterborough – a mere 550 metres or 7 minutes walk. There is free wifi, and computers to use as well as books, mags, etc.

If you want to find out more about Christchurch, our website has a motherlode of local history information.

Margaret Mahy Playground

Not just for kids. I am having visions of writers and festivalgoers shooting down the flying fox of an evening. Make it so.

Plus the place is a tribute to our great writers – word witch Margaret Mahy and peace activist heroine Elsie Locke. The wonderful David Levithan will be delivering the Margaret Mahy Lecture on Saturday morning (27 August).

Margaret Mahy Playground
Margaret Mahy Playground. Flickr 2015-12-23-IMG_1733

Botanic Gardens and the Museum

Cuningham House
Cuningham House, Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Flickr 2014-07-27-IMG_0809

A favourite local outing is a visit to the Canterbury Museum and the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Highlights are the daffodils, the new Visitor Centre at the Botanic Gardens, gaudy, gorgeous Peacock fountain,  conservatories, and the interesting Christchurch Antarctic collection at the Museum.

The Quake City exhibition is on display at 99 Cashel Street, near the ReStart container mall and gives a good insight into what Christchurch people have been through.

The Reading Room

A photo op for you book-loving types, near the site of our new Central Library.

Food & drink

Here are plenty of great hospo venues in close proximity to the Festival including:

C1 Espresso  – there are some exciting WORD collaborations going on this place. The book launch for Let’s take a walk is here tomorrow (Wednesday) at 6pm. It’s a pretty damn cool spot in general – curly fries and pneumatic tube food are a Christchurch must. The Spinoff after dark will be on here on Saturday night.

New Regent Street is full of foody spots including:

There’s some new takeaway spots at the new BNZ Centre in 120 Hereford Street – including Burger Fuel, Hachi hachi, and Mumbiwala.

Here’s a few more gourmand faves:

  • Vanilla Ices in Victoria Square (weekends at the moment) I love the ice-cream and secret recipe raspberry.
  • Escarto Espresso in Cathedral Square (great coffee, and they use Whittakers Dark Ghana in their hot and iced chocs – yum).
  • Rollickin’ Gelato at the Margaret Mahy Playground.
  • Friday Night Food Trucks in Cathedral Square, after which you might feel like a wee boogie at the Dance-o-mat on the corner of Colombo and Gloucester Streets.

If you want to explore more things to do in Christchurch, try:

Any other tips for places to see? Share them here!

Book tea and tales with Jenny Pattrick – Community Read

Community Read kicked off yesterday at the Library at  Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre – Book chat, tea, and tales with bestselling author Jenny Pattrick. Jenny and her husband Laughton sang a little number especially composed by Laughton for the book launch of Heartland.

As much as I hate the expression “where else would this happen”  it still crossed my mind.  Jenny  read excerpts of the book including the last chapter and answered questions from Roberta Smith, the chair.


  • Jenny has never belonged to a book club.
  • Manawa is based on a small town where she has stays frequently and where her son lives.
  • The three elderly Aunts and their tragic family story of soldier brothers was based on her own Great Aunts and family.

Although I have never lived in rural New Zealand Jenny Pattrick had me busting to read the book every spare moment.  To follow Donny Mac, the Virgin and the small number of character locals who permanently live in the dying community that is  Manawa. A very New Zealand story from a strong New Zealand author.

There’s more to come tonight and tomorrow, for adults and kids alike:

Jenny Pattrick’s Heartland brought to life by the Court Jesters – Friday 19 August 7pm to 9pm at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre

Experience Jenny Pattrick’s book Heartland brought to life by The Court Jesters.
Drinks and nibbles from 6.30pm.
Find out more.

Storytime for Songbirds with Jenny Pattrick – Saturday 20 August 2pm to 3pm at  at Te Hāpua: Halswell Centre

Join Jenny for a special interactive, toe-tapping storytime featuring the enchanting The Very Important Godwit. Fly in with the whole family to enjoy a musical storytelling extravaganza!
Find out more.

Community Read


Storylines Christchurch Free Family Day – Sunday 28 August at Upper Riccarton Library

If you are looking for something for the family to do next week, do I have news for you! The annual funfest that is the Storylines Christchurch Free Family Day is on Sunday 28 August at Upper Riccarton Library between 10am and 3pm. Find out all the cool stuff on offer by viewing the full programme [220KB PDF] and:


What’s happening?

There are plenty of workshops, events, and competitions including:

  • *Lily Max* Satin Scissors Frock Arts and Crafts (ages 7 to 12)
  • Tyre Repair at the Library! (teens and adults)
  • Writers’ Workshop: Designing Characters
  • Kapa Haka (All ages)
  • Face Painters Galore (All ages)
  • Treasure Hunt (All ages)

CoverThis year’s Storylines Christchurch Family Day will feature a special performance at 2pm by the TKKM o Te Whanau Tahi immersion school Kapa Haka group. They will bring the book He Taniwha i Te Kura to life – te reo Māori – as part of the Books Alive programme. This book by Tim Tipene is about how to overcome classroom bullying.

Great New Zealand authors, illustrators and performers will be there, including:

And waaaay more. Get in amongst it!

Storylines Christchurch Free Family Day 2014
Storylines Christchurch Free Family Day 2014. Upper Riccarton Library. Sunday 24 August 2014. File Reference: P1040738.JPG

Quick questions with Rachael Craw – WORD Christchurch

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Rachael Craw is the author of YA sci-fi crossover trilogy Spark, Stray and Shield.

Rachael Craw. Image supplied.
Rachael Craw. Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

I was born in Christchurch and lived there my whole life till 4 years ago so all my friends and whānau are there which means catching up with as many people as I can in 48 hours in between going to as many festival events as I can. So basically, I should just give up on eating and sleeping, right?

What do you think about libraries?

Enablers? Suppliers? Dealers? They fed my Trixie Belden addiction in childhood so my love for libraries is large.

What would be your “desert island book”?

CoverThe Lord of the Rings. Which is kind of cheating – 3 books in 1. But it is still my favourite book. The Grey Havens choke me up every time.

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

I can sing.




Your own personal Christchurch – we pick things to do and see for WORD Christchurch writers

Our team of WORDy librarians have handpicked some places and experiences for WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival guests.

Caitlin Doughty

I reckon mortician Caitlin might like to see that slightly creepy mourning jewellery made of hair at the Canterbury Museum.

Hair jewellery at Canterbury Museum

Caitlin Doughty appears in:
PechaKucha Night, Thurs 25 Aug, 8.20pm
The Stars Are On Fire, Fri 26 Aug, 7.30pm
Embracing Death, Sat 27 Aug, 9.30am
Ask a Mortician: Caitlin Doughty, Sun 28 Aug, 2pm
The Nerd Degree, Sun 28 Aug, 5pm

Debbie Stoller

Anne recommends the Outlaw Yarn and their Saloon for Debbie Stoller. Outlaw yarn in NZ made in one of the last remaining spinning mills in New Zealand. The centre of operations is right here in Beckenham, Christchurch. There’s also a wonderful whalebone wool swift in the Canterbury Museum.

Debbie Stoller appears in:
Busted: Feminism & Pop Culture, Sat 27 Aug, 11am
The Sunday Fringe – How to Start a Magazine, Sun 28 Aug, 10am

Steve Hely

Moata thinks Steve might like the Casa Publica South American themed bar in New Regent Street.

Steve Hely appears in:
The Stars Are on Fire, Fri 26 Aug, 7.30pm
How to be a Writer: Steve Hely, Sat 27 Aug, 3.30pm
The Great NZ Crime Debate, Sat 27 Aug, 7.30pm
The State of America, Sun 28 Aug, 12.30pm

Steve Braunias

For the criminally inclined guests like Steve, Moata recommend a visit  to Victoria Park (scene of Honora Parker’s demise). See our pages on the Parker-Hulme murder.

Given his taste for quirky New Zealand experiences, I’d recommend a sway past Baz’s charity barn on the corner of Ferry Road.

Steve Braunias appears in:
True Crime, Fri 26 Aug, 3.30pm
Spinoff After Dark, Sat 27 Aug, 10pm

Toby Morris

Christchurch street art might be worth a look, reckons Moata. (Have a browse of our street art pics).

Street art on Millennium in Cathedral Square

Toby Morris appears in:
Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?, Sat 27 Aug, 12.30pm
Sunday Fringe – Writing to Make a Change, Sun 28 Aug, 11.30am
Giving Them Hell: Political Cartoons, Sun 28 Aug, 2pm

Tim Flannery

Something for the science-inclined guest: Moata points out that Tim will be here in time to visit Rutherford’s Den (it’s open again from 27 August).

Tim Flannery appears in:
2050, Fri 26 Aug, 5.30pm
Atmosphere of Hope: Tim Flannery, Sat 27 Aug, 2pm

Alok Jha

Alok might like to take a look at the water feature at Margaret Mahy playground. And that river that wends it way around the city – the Ōtākaro – Avon River.

Alok and other guests interested in the Antarctic would like the Antarctic section of Canterbury Museum and the International Antarctic Centre.

Antarctic vehicle

Alok Jha appears in:
Inspiring Writers – Secondary Schools Day, Thurs 25 Aug, 11.30am
PechaKucha Night, Thurs 25 Aug, 8.20pm
Water: Alok Jha, Sat 27 Aug, 11am
Tales from the Ice, Sun 28 Aug, 3.30pm
The Nerd Degree, Sun 28 Aug, 5pm

Tara Moss

Moata reckons Tara would like to visit the Kate Sheppard memorial.

Kate Sheppard memorial
Friday 19 September 2014. Flickr 2014-09-19-IMG_2212

I am picking Madame Butterflys and Etcetera for Tara and other Festival vintage clothes-lovers.

Tara Moss appears in:
Inspiring Writers – Secondary Schools Day, Thurs 25 Aug, 9.45am
Speaking Out: Tara Moss, Sat 27 Aug, 12.30pm

Roger Shepherd

Fiona would match Roger Shepherd with bar and music venue darkroom. Or indeed Blue Smoke, where Roger’s special event will be held. He’d probably be up for a fossick at Galaxy Records or Penny Lane too I reckon.

Roger Shepherd appears in:
In Love With These Times: A Flying Nun Celebration, Sat 27 Aug, 7.30pm

Bill Manhire

Fiona reckons Bill Manhire might like the Woolston Twisted Hop – “best home made beer in Christchurch” (she loved his wee book on South Island pubs).

Bill Manhire appears in:
The Perfect Short Story, Fri 26 Aug, 3.45pm
Power of Poetry, Fri 26 Aug, 5pm

David Levithan

David’s going to be delivering the Margaret Mahy lecture at the Festival.  Moata suggests a visit to the brilliant Margaret Mahy portrait by Glenda Randerson. It is on display at Central Library Manchester. I reckon he might like a visit to the playground named in her honour – with all its little Margaret Mahy words and images.

Portrait of Margaret Mahy by Glenda Randerson

David Levithan appears in:
Inspiring Writers – Secondary Schools Day, Thurs 25 Aug, 9.45am
Speaking Proud, Thurs 25 Aug, 6pm
Margaret Mahy Memorial Lecture, Sat 27 Aug, 9.30am

Visit our page on WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival 2016.

Have you got any picks for Festival guests? Share away!

Quick questions with Nadia Hashimi – WORD Christchurch

We are asking quick questions of writers and thinkers coming to the WORD Christchurch Writers and Readers Festival on from 24 to 28 August.

Nadia Hashimi, born in the United States to Afghan parents, has degrees in Middle Eastern studies and biology, and is a trained paediatrician. Her 2014 debut novel The Pearl That Broke Its Shell was followed by When the Moon is Low. Her latest book is A House Without Windows.

Nadia Hashimi. Photo by Chris Cartter. Image supplied.
Nadia Hashimi. Photo by Chris Carter. Image supplied.

What are you looking forward to doing in Christchurch?

That’s going to depend on how hospitable the weather will be while I’m there. I’d love to see a wildlife preserve and to see how the people of Christchurch are rebuilding their city after the earthquake. I’m up for just about anything that will be uniquely Christchurch. Extra points for historical significance.

What do you think about libraries?

I could wax eloquent on libraries or I could quote Caitlin Moran who so brilliantly described libraries as “cathedrals of the mind; hospitals of the soul; theme parks of the imagination.” They’ve been a part of my life since I was a child and going back to my hometown libraries to give book talks and has been an incredibly moving experience. In different times of my life, I’ve turned to libraries for different reasons. Libraries are where I:  blazed through summer reading challenges, had my first volunteer job, learned that my tween angst was not that abnormal, studied for medical school entrance exams, conducted research for my novels, found a quiet space to write my last chapter. Finally, the library is where I bring my children so they can do all the above and more as well.

What would be your “desert island book”?

CoverLove in the Time of Cholera. (Although, if I were allowed to bring my e-reader, I would have lots more options. Does the desert island have Wi-Fi?)

Share a surprising fact about yourself.

Though I’m a vegetarian, I hate mushrooms. They are fungi and should be treated as such. (No offense to mushroom lovers.)

Nadia Hashimi appears in:
Can Books Change the World?, Thurs 25 Aug, 6pm
Read the World, Sat 27 Aug, 12.15pm
An Hour with Nadia Hashimi, Sun 28 Aug, 3.30pm



Fast Five with Nadia Wheatley

There are some wonderful authors and illustrators for children who are coming to Auckland in August as part of the 2016 IBBY Congress. You can read all about who we are excited to meet in our post about the IBBY Congress here on the blog. We approached some of the speakers and asked them a few questions about books and libraries.

Today’s featured speaker is Australian author Nadia Wheatley:

What are you most looking forward to when you visit New Zealand for the 2016 IBBY Congress?

Meeting fellow authors, illustrators, readers and book-lovers from around the world.

What is your favourite memory of libraries?

I don’t have early memories of going to libraries and borrowing books because when I was growing up in the 1950s there weren’t many municipal libraries in Australia, and my school didn’t have a library until towards the end of my secondary years. However, my mother’s best friend from her childhood was the librarian in charge of a major library in the centre of Sydney, and sometimes we would pay her a visit when we went into town. Although my mother had been a nurse and she had many nursing colleagues who were still working, this librarian was the first woman I knew who had a professional office job. I always loved going to the library and seeing Auntie O (as I called her) sitting behind a big desk, surrounded by books.

What are 5 of your favourite books?

Impossible to choose only five favourite books, but here are some, in the order I read them:

Cover of Pippi LongstockingPippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren): This book provided a model of a happy orphan when my mother died, when I was nine years old.

Middlemarch (George Eliot): This was our set text in English when I was fifteen. I think it was the first really grown-up book I read.

Cover of The making of the English working classThe Making of the English Working Class (E.P. Thompson): I read this in 1968, when I was getting involved in radical politics. It helped me decide to become a historian.

The Member of the Wedding (Carson McCullers): My favourite book about what it means to be a misfit.

The Vivisector (Patrick White): My favourite book about about what it means to be an artist.

What do you love most about the world of children’s literature?

The friendship of my fellow book-makers and book-lovers.

What do you believe is the most important thing that adults can do to encourage children to read?

My general advice would be to read aloud to children, even when they are able to read for themselves. I also think of a phrase used by British novelist and critic, Aiden Chambers. He referred to what he called ‘the enabling adult’: the person (parent, teacher, librarian, friend) who introduces a particular book to a child, and helps her find her way into it. I remember that Aiden also once said to me that every time we read a new book, we need to learn how to read it. I think some wonderful books do need someone to introduce them to their readership.