Local and lustrous – a small sample of Auckland Writers Festival’s extensive homegrown line-up

The full Auckland Writers Festival programme was released on Wednesday. With more than 200 writers on the programme, the range of local literary talent involved in standalone sessions, panels, as workshop hosts and more, runs deep in the 2024 line-up.

While we can’t do justice to the incredible programme of writers in one short article, we’ve rolled up our sleeves and had a go. Here’s a small sample – a taster of the local talent involved in the discussions and dialogue at this year’s festival.  View the full programme here – tickets are on sale from 9.00 am this Friday 15 March. 

Click each writer’s name for one of the events they’ll be speaking at.

Announced first and early: hats off to the Festival team for building excitement for the full programme. Last Friday, they made an early announcement, releasing the names of nine writers (including prominent American author Ann Patchett). Aotearoa’s own literary luminaries in this early set were: celebrated author Patricia Grace (Ngāti Toa, Ngāti Raukawa and Te Āti Awa) who joins Ann Patchett on Sunday 19 May for a session titled The Long View; the eviscerating, brilliant and powerful poet Tusiata Avia (Avia converses with Victor Rodger on her latest collection Big Fat Brown Bitch ) and Rugby super star Dan Carter (Carter chats with Duncan Greive about The Art of Winning).


Celebrated debuts: romesh dissanayake’s first novel (read Kete’s review here) is described as funny, subversive, touching and entertaining. dissanayake appears alongside Anna Smaill (Bird Life and The Chimes) to discuss writing stories of grief and survival. Saraid de Silva’s hotly anticipated debut Amma is out later this month and de Silva is set to appear in a session on multi-generational novels alongside another first-time novelist, Kiwi Zimbabwean Tsitsi Mapepa whose ‘utterly original’ first book Ndima Ndima was released late last year.


Acorns and oaks: The 2024 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards will be announced on 15 May at a public session that forms part of the Festival. Previous years’ winners of the big fiction prize – the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction – will speak about their work at various sessions across this year’s festival including an awe-inspiring quartet: Becky Manawatu (Ngāi Tahu), Catherine Chidgey, Pip Adam and Emily Perkins (the fiction prize was a Montana Book Award the year Perkins won).

Screen stars: screen legend Sam Neill whose memoir Did I Ever Tell You This? came out last year shares anecdotes from his life and career on stage with Robyn Malcolm. Comedian Dai Henwood and Jaquie Brown are together in conversation discussing Henwood’s memoir – Life of Dai – which they co-wrote. They reflect on Dai’s incurable cancer and the importance of finding joy in the small moments. 

Multigenerational memoirist: Craig Hoyle details his excommunication from the New Zealand Exclusive Brethren, life after leaving, and his journey to meet his grandfather who was excommunicated in the eighties in his multi-generational memoir_._ He joins Simon Wilson to discuss leaving the Brethren and the process of writing about it.

Compelling non-fiction: Damon Salesa whose book An Indigenous Ocean is up for the General Non-fiction prize at this year’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and surgeon Ineke Meredith feature on an all-star line up with Carmel Sepuloni on the pressures of leadership.


The kids don’t know their luck: Dazzlehands writer and illustrator duo Sacha Cotter and Josh Morgan (Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki, Rongowhakaata) will be reading this funny and fabulous book (original songs and a very mini rave are also promised). Comic book artist and Disney animator Michel Mulipola is running a workshop on sketching superheroes! Ka-blam! And in more illustrious illustrative news, Giselle Clarkson and Toby Morris will wielding pencils in a sketching show down.

Auckland Writers Festival runs from 14 to 19 May: