Whanganui Literary Festival opens 21 September

Now in its tenth year, the Whanganui Literary Festival is a biennial event organised and run by the Whanganui Literary Charitable Trust.

Running from 21 September to 1 October the main Festival weekend begins with the Gala Opening on Friday 29 September and is followed by individual sessions with each of eight invited authors on Saturday 30 September and Sunday 1 October.

The venue for these events is the Whanganui War Memorial Centre.

The Dinner With the Stars on Saturday 30 September is at Bushy Park Homestead which provides an exceptional Whanganui experience for Festival attendees and authors.

The festival programme features:

  • Witi Ihimaera, who took part in the 2013 Festival, will discuss his life and career as a revered New Zealand and international writer.

  • Chris Tse is the current New Zealand poet laureate. His poetry, fiction, and non-fiction have been recorded for radio and widely published in magazines and anthologies.

  • Stephanie Johnson received the 2022 Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction.Stephanie will discuss her latest novel, Kind, written during the first Covid lockdown.

  • Sue McCaulay has had a long and varied career as a novelist, copywriter, journalist and farmer. Her

  • first novel, Other Halves, won many awards. She will talk about her new novel, Landed.

  • Steven Davis is a former NZ Listener columnist, investigative reporter, writer, producer, editor and

  • educator who has worked in New Zealand and internationally to combat misinformation.

  • Fiona Sussmann, GP turned short story writer and novelist, is a twice winner of the Ngaio Marsh

  • Mystery Fiction Award. Her novel, The Doctor’s Wife is very popular with Whanganui readers.

  • Jock Philipps is a leading historian, previously the country’s Chief Historian. His latest book, The

    History of New Zealand in 100 Objects, is a colourful retelling of our shared past, relevant to today.

  • Gordon Collier is a leading plantsman and designer of three famous New Zealand gardens, including

    a new one in our region. Gordon is the nephew of well-known Whanganui artist, the late Edith Collier.

The Fringe Festival precedes the Literary Festival and is focussed on the many local writers who have either been born and bred in Whanganui or chosen it as their home.

Key events planned include:

  • a Book Fair to give local authors exposure and an opportunity to sell their work

  • an exhibition by local graphic artist, Desmond Bovey, and the launch his accompanying book on the flora and fauna of Tongariro National Park (Potton & Burton), hosted by Space Gallery

  • the very popular literary quiz

  • a Sarjeant Gallery event around three authors and their artistic connections to Whanganui

One one of the most attractive things about the Whanganui Festival is that its size and style provides the

audience with a chance to personally meet the authors. Many festivals in larger centres take place in huge auditoriums where authors are quite distant and book signings can be hustled due to numbers and timing. In Whanganui it is much more relaxed and the authors are available and invariably approachable.

All trustees are volunteers and there are no paid staff members.

For more information and programme details, view the festival website