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WORD 2024 stars Canterbury scholars and authors

04 July 2024

The ’s deep cultural roots and contributions to our bright city is evident in the extent of talent and creativity involved in WORD 2024.


Photo caption:At the WORD Christchurch 2024 programme launch (from left): UC Assistant Vice-Chancellor Engagement Brett Berquist, WORD Executive Director Steph Walker, WORD Programme Director Kiran Dass, UC Director of Communications and Events Jayne Austin and UC Executive Dean of Arts Kevin Watson.

From 27 August to 1 September, WORD Christchurch 2024 will bring communities together through a love of words, giving Ōtautahi Christchurch audiences direct access to the best storytellers and writers, ground-breaking ideas, stories and events.

Valuing fresh ideas and innovative thinking for over 150 years, Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha | (UC) is committed to supporting communities to thrive through cultural and creative opportunities. Building on a long-standing relationship that goes back to the start of the festival 26 years ago, UC has been a principal partner of WORD Christchurch festival of stories and kupu for four years.

WORD Christchurch features thinkers, writers and performers who are part of our university community, spanning investigative journalism, science, and poetry as well as performances, walking tours, music, food, and events for younger readers.

UC will also host the free Inspiring Minds: Secondary Schools Day on its Ilam campus, once again offering inspiring speakers to Ōtautahi Christchurch high-school students. This is an opportunity for students to meet and listen to exciting thinkers and writers. The incredible line-up includes American writer Sasha taqwšəblu LaPointe, award-winning poet Tayi Tibble (Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāti Porou), award-winning novelist Pip Adam, UC Engineering graduate, Muslim community leader and author Bariz Shah, police-turned booksellers and authors Louise and Gareth Ward, singer-songwriter, performer and interviewer Anika Moa (Ngāpuhi, Te Aupōuri), UC science communicator and volcano expert Professor Ben Kennedy, and more.

Voices of Ōtākaro is a special chamber presentation that celebrates the power of verse set to melody. Join musicians from UC’s School of Music and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and hear the poetry of Mary Oliver and Federico García Lorca, local texts from the Ōtākaro River Trail and more, under the musical direction of UC Professor Mark Menzies.

In a special panel discussion, The Power of Community, writer Tina Makereti (2022 UC writer in residence), author Bariz Shah, and poet Sara Qasem will discuss the issues facing their communities, and how culture can transcend borders, with UC peace/conflict scholar Dr Mahdis Azarmandi.

Former local politician, heritage advocate, author and UC alumna, Dame Anna Crighton shares her extraordinary life story, told publicly for the first time in her inspiring new memoir Still Standing (Canterbury University Press).

It was in Senegal that a homesick Lily Duval began to paint watercolours of New wildlife. Her growing fascination with insects led her to pursue a master’s degree at UC’s Centre for Human-Animal Studies. Her thesis and distinctive watercolours formed the basis of her book, Six-legged Ghosts: The Insects of Aotearoa (Canterbury University Press). With Forest and Bird chief executive Nicola Toki and RNZ host Jesse Mulligan, Duval will discuss her books Critters of Aotearoa and Six Legged Ghosts.

Also, in partnership with UC, award-winning creatives, collaborators and friends, Robyn Malcolm and Emily Perkins will discuss creating Strong Female Characters in their work.

Written by acclaimed Pasific poet and performer Tusiata Avia (UC graduate, 2005 artist-in-residence in UC’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, and 2010 Ursula Bethell writer-in-residence at UC Arts), The Savage Coloniser Show is a timely theatrical examination of race and racism, which brings to life her award-winning The Savage Coloniser Book. The show will be performed in her hometown for the first time from 10-13 September.

In addition, the WORD 2024 programme also includes UC luminaries Dr Erin Harrington, Dr Jarrod Gilbert, and Naomi van den Broek, plus Ursula Bethell writers-in-residence David Coventry (2022), Nathan Joe (2020), Amy Head (2020), Rachael King (2008), and countless other staff, alumni and friends of the university.

Launched in 1997, WORD Christchurch is a world-class festival of literature, politics, culture, and ideas. UC staff, alumni and students have supported all WORD Christchurch festivals and iterations over the years, speaking about books and ideas, interviewing authors, chairing panel discussions, hosting events and attending sessions. In 2021, the University and WORD Christchurch formalised this relationship with a partnership agreement.

  • For tickets and more information, visit .

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