Monday, August 01, 2016

Going West Books & Writers Festival

 The 21st Going West Books and Writers Festival marks a new era, with new creative directors and a packed programme of events  proudly featuring home-grown authors, playwrights and songwriters in venues across West Auckland this September.

Nicola Strawbridge, an experienced magazine and book editor, together with writer, critic and agency creative, Mark Easterbrook, spearhead this year’s programme, following Murray Gray’s retirement after 20 years at the helm.

Strawbridge says honouring the established flavour of the festival was important to them whilst crafting this year’s new events.

“I’m thrilled to present the 2016 festival; a rich variety of events to feed the mind, spark imaginations and to broaden perspectives on issues of the day.”

Easterbrook adds that in addition to thought-provoking discussions, the festival serves up generous portions of entertainment. 

“We want people to have fun, ask questions, be moved, find inspiration and seek out those who are different from themselves. Going West is a platform for telling stories; a stage where the voices from the edges can challenge the centre.

“Comedienne Michele A’Court features, Flying Nun founder Roger Shepherd pays us a visit in an event chaired by John Campbell and to wrap up the festival’s weekend, we’ve got an interactive session about the craft of beer brewing featuring Te Radar.”

Many of the 2016 Going West Books and Writers Festival writers have new works including a novel, Billy Bird, by award-winning author Emma NealeThis Model World, an art world memoir by art critic Anthony  Byrt; Art Thieves, Fakers and Fraudsters - an enthralling look into NZs art crime scene by Penelope JacksonThings That Matter - stories of life and death by Middlemore Hospital’s head of intensive care, Dr David Galler;  Anthropologist Marama Muru-Lanning, with scientist Mike Joy, take a close look at what's going on with our rivers; there’s new writing by some of this country’s newest citizens and physician and environmentalist Malcolm Paterson (Ngāti Whātua of Kaipara and Ōrākei) shares tales of West Auckland’s underground pathways long before the Waterview tunnel came to be.

Albert Wendt, one of our foremost writers and academics, features in the festival weekend’s opening night celebrations on Friday 9 September as the 2016 Sir Graeme Douglas Orator.

Audiences will be treated to Sham, a blistering black comedy, peppered with vicious wit and emotional combat at New Lynn’s Te Pou theatre from 1 -4 September. Starring Michele Hine (Go Girls, Almighty Johnsons), Darien Takle (Xena, Lysistrata), Annie Whittle (World’s Fastest Indian, Go Girls) and Amanda Tito (Step Dave, Almighty Johnsons) and directed by Conrad Newport, Sham unflinchingly explores the fallout of a family whose secrets have been laid bare.

Te Pou, in partnership with Going West Festival, will hold a Koanga (Spring) Festival offering a range of performances, writing workshops and readings and culminating in a community Whānau Day of quality storytelling and hand’s on childrens’ activities on 10 September at the theatre’s home 44A Portage Road, New Lynn.

Two films feature in this year’s festival.  Tanna, the newly released drama, directed by Bentley Dean and Martin Butler, is a multi-award winning feature film set in the South Pacific. It is based on a true story and performed by the people of Yakel in Vanuatu and will screen on 4 September at Glen Eden’s Playhouse Theatre. 

The Snapper Sandwich - the story of filmmaker and musician Tony Burt – will screen at Lopdell House, Titirangi on 7 September.   Combining live narrative, music performance, and film, this documentary, told in chapters, follows Burt’s journey from Aboriginal communities of far north Australia, to campers who unite to save the serenity at Urenui Domain and to protests on the streets of Wellington. 

Stand-up poets have time to sharpen their acts before the Going West Poetry Slam takes place on 10 September. Directed by Doug Poole, this will be a fun, fast-paced evening featuring some of the country’s best known bards. Handsome cash prizes to be won.  

Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery’s Learning Centre will hold an Indie Book Fair: a thriving showcase of zines, handmade books and limited-edition publications on Sunday 11 September; Henderson’s Corban Estate features Word Up on 11 September: an exciting, word-based performance competition which gives 13-20-year-olds the opportunity to present their original work in any word-based genre from rap, poetry, spoken word, music or stand-up comedy.

 Strawbridge and Easterbrook say that the festival embraces all forms writing.

“The Going West Festival celebrates writers in all their guises – song writers, novelists, film makers, historians, comedians, playwrights, poets and more.

“It’s a festival by writers for those who love to see, hear, read and experience the word.”

The full Going West Books and Writers Festival programme is online  For tickets go to: or phone iTICKET (09) 361 1000.

The Festival is grateful for support from the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, Creative New Zealand, The Trusts Community Foundation, Foundation North and the Douglas family Trust.

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