16-21 May 2023
The 2023 Festival saw over 60,000 attendees across seven days of kōrero, knowledge and exciting writers from here and across the globe. We were joined by Booker, TS Eliot, Pulitzer and Ockham Prize-winners – as well as New York Times bestsellers, much loved writers across all genres and exciting new talent.
On the Kiri Te Kanawa stage we heard from a stellar line-up of writers, including Eleanor Catton, Catherine Chidgey, Bernardine Evaristo, Bill Hayes, Anthony Joseph, Shehan Karunatilaka, Jenny Odell, Gaylene Preston, Monty Soutar, and Colson Whitehead.
Our 2023 curators were Matariki and Michael Bennett, Chris Tse and Dahlia Malaeulu who put together an incredible group of writers and thinkers. From journalist Louisa Lim, poet and artist Ruby Solly, poet and composer Cadence Chung, filmmaker and actress Awa Puna, award-winning tapa artists Tui Emma Gillies and Sulieti Fieme'a Burrows, nurse and Samoan siapo maker Doron Semu.
In a special First Nations series, writers from Canada, Australia and Aotearoa were bought together for meaningful exchanges about storytelling, language and Indigenous experiences. Joining us from Canada we heard from Two-Spirit, Oji—nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation poet Joshua Whitehead, Anishinaabe journalist and speaker Tanya Talaga and Red River Métis (Michif) writer Katherena Vermette. From Australia we heard from writer and editor of Mununjali Yugambeh and Dutch heritage Ellen Van Neerven, Munanjahli and South Sea Islander writer and educator Chelsea Watego and proud Gunai Woman and award-winning author Kirli Saunders.
Our annual STREESIDE celebration took place on the streets of the Britomart Precinct for an evening of readings, declarations and live storytelling. We heard from an extraordinary line-up of writers including Joanna Cho, Nathan Joe, Daniel Lavery, Airana Ngarewa, Rushi Vyas and Dr Gráinne Cleary.
Pukapuka Adventures kept the whole whanau busy throughout the weekend on our Fifth Floor Fun-Zone. With yeti drawing tutorials, a standout session on all you need to know about birds and incredible bilingual stories in Te Reo Māori and English.
The Festival concluded on Sunday night with a passionate celebration of Katherine Mansfield on the centenary year of her too-soon demise. Six writers and performers took to the stage to celebrate her incredible legacy.
2022 saw a live Festival event with more than 52,000 attendees across seven days. We welcomed in-person, international writers including A. C. Grayling, Clementine Ford, Liane Moriarty, Harold Hillman, David Killcullen, and Jane Campion.
Livestreaming into the venue were Nobel Prize winner Abdulrazak Gurnah, essayist Rebecca Solnit, novelist and actor David Duchovny; with digital workshops and salon appearances from writers including Booker Prize winner Damon Galgut, Lydia Davis, Michael Rosen, Warsan Shire, Stephanie Dowrick, Colm Toibin, Graeme Simsion, Delia Ephron, Lea Ypi and Meg Mason.
Special events included Art and Power, a Sydney Art Quartet music and readings performance; The Genius of Sondheim, with guests including Jennifer Ward-Lealand and Edward Laurenson; theatrical works Hello Darkness, Ka-Shue and Paragon Dreams; rising hip-hop and spoken-word stars in New Dawn; and a Naked Samoans line-up.
In our curatorial strands, led by Moana Maniapoto, Leki Jackson-Bourke and Rosabel Tan, esteemed guests included Timoti Kāretu, Jacinta Ruru, Miriama Kamo, Amanaki Prescott-Faletau, Aigagalefili Fepulea’i Tapua’i, Nathan Joe, Nahyeon Lee, Chris Tse, Himali McINnes and Pax Assadi.
Friday night saw STREETSIDE take over Beresford Square, with fabulous fiction and poetry from authors including Elizabeth Smither, Tayi Tibble, Kevin Ireland, Anne Kennedy, Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins, Gigi Fenster, Brian Walpert, Rosetta Allan and Owen Marshall.
Pukapuka Adventures kept children and families busy at the Town Hall on Sunday, and included Kapa Haka, poi making, drawing with Donovan Bixley, and more.
The Festival concluded on Sunday night with a moving celebration of our Honoured Writer, Tessa Duder.
11-16 May 2021
2021 saw a return to a live Festival event with nearly 65,000 attendees across six days. We welcomed in-person, international writers taking shelter on our shores including Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer; Rick Gekoski and Behrouz Boochani, whilst beaming in for live interviews are Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro and renowned artist Ai Weiwei. We presented 32 performances of the Donmar Warehouse’s Blindness, an acclaimed immersive theatre experience direct from London, voiced by Juliet Stevenson, based on Nobel Prize winning José Saramago’s novel, and five performances of the beautiful Witi’s Wāhine. Ruby Solly curated Oro with Ockham-winner Becky Manawatu, Ross Calman, Anahera Gildea, Arihia Latham, Nic Low, Kiri Piahana-Wong and essa may ranapiri. We launched Asian anthology A Clear Dawn; and Gina Cole curated Talanoa with Tusiata Avia, David Eggleton, Oscar Kightley, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Karlo Mila and Victor Rodger. Following our successful online Winter Series, internationals Isabel Allende, Gabriel Byrne, Douglas Stuart, Monique Roffey, Marilynne Robinson and Yiyun Li join Kiwis abroad JP Pomare, Miro Bilbrough and Mohamed Hassan for Salons beamed into venue. In the halls we talked cancel culture, science, art, economics, crime, food, family secrets and more with Sue Kedgley, Ngahuia te Awekotuku, Dick Frizzell, Claudia Orange, Ghazaleh Golbakhsh, Brian Easton, Monique Fiso, Charlotte Grimshaw, Rebecca Macfie, Glenn Colquhoun, Anna Fifield and Rangi Matamua. Reb Fountain, Tom Scott and Marlon Williams chatted with Moana Maniapoto about songwriting and Auckland Speaks II showcased some of Tāmaki Makaurau’s finest spoken word poets. Alice Te Punga Somerville presented the Michael King Memorial Lecture and our STREETSIDE: Karangahape event showcased more than 40 writers on Friday night. Our workshop presenters,included Mary Karr, Carl Nixon, Kevin Barry, Eileen Merriman, Andrew O’Hagan, Michael Robotham and Shaun Tan. And, in a triumphant closing, Fiona Kidman, Patricia Grace, Witi Ihimaera, Vincent O’Sullivan, CK Stead, Brian Turner and Albert Wendt came together on stage for A Worship of Honoured Writers.
The 2020 was to be our 20th Festival, with a stellar line up of guests to join the celebrations - including Ann Patchett, Colson Whitehead, Bernardine Evaristo, Liane Moriarty, Mary Robinson, Samantha Power, Philippe Sands, Lisa Taddeo, Patrick Gale, Chanel Miller, Tim Flannery, Deborah Eisenberg, Wallace Shawn, Omar Saif Ghobash, Julia Ebner, Cass Sunstein, Elizabeth Knox, Colin Thubron, Moana Jackson, Joshua Wong , Anna Fifield, Alan Duff, Tara June Winch, Haben Girma, Eleanor Catton, Simon Armitage, Joshua Whirehead, Jenny Bornholdt and Selina Tusitala Marsh, Peter Stanford, Barbara Ewing, Alan Bollard, Behrouz Boochani, An Yu, Leanne Shapton, Nathan Filer, Helon Habila, Francis and Kaiora Tipene.
In May during "lockdown", we launched our 13-week Winter Series with each episode featuring three writers most of whom featured in our cancelled 2020 programme. Our guests 'zoomed in' from all over Aotearoa New Zealand and the world, to chat with series host Paula Morris, read from their latest books and answer audience questions. All 13 episodes are available free on our website to watch or listen to at anytime, details and links below. Podcasts are also available on apple or Spotify.
13-19 May 2019
In 2019 we introduce the Festival's Māori name Waituhi o Tāmaki, with its many poetic resonances with water (wai, waiata meaning song-poem or reflecting water), writing (tuhi - to write) and story-telling through other forms of writing such as kōwhaiwhai and tā moko.
The Festival saw record attendance again with over 83,000 attendances across 211 events. Our international guests included Antony Beevor, Kamila Shamsie, John Boyne, Jill Abramson, Andrew Sean Greer, Jeff Tweedy, Anne Michaels, Markus Zusak, Sarah Perry, Val Emmich, Kate Raworth, Akala, Patrick deWitt, Artemis Cooper and Douglas Coupland, Over 2,000 turned out for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's event, we farewelled Festival founder Peter Wells and were honoured that kaumatua Sir"Tīmoti Kāretu appeared in the Festival’s first-ever session conducted in te reo Māori. Vincent O'Malley delivered The Michael King Memorial Lecture and our 2019 Honoured New Zealand Writer was Joy Cowley.
15-20 May 2018
2018 saw a record number of events, writers and audience numbers with 75,000 attendances across the six-day Festival, including over 6,800 students taking part in our Schools Programme. This year a glorious array of award-winning writers opened their books, traversing the deeply personal and the avowedly political, ranging across genre, geography, gender and more. Including Karl Ove Knausgård, A. C. Grayling. Karen Joy Fowler, Robert Webb, Jeff Goodell, Shashi Tharoor, Amy Goldstein, David Eagleman, Selina Tusitala Marsh, Durga Chew-Bose, CK Stead, Jane Harper, Fiona Farrell, Alex Ross, Anne Salmond, Lisa Reihana, Neal Stephenson, Sharlene Teo, Jenny Zhang and Catherine Chidgey. Damon Salesa delivered The Michael King Memorial Lecture and our 2018 Honoured New Zealand Writer was Witi Ihimaera.
16 - 21 May 2017
The 2017 programme, the Festival’s most ambitious yet, hosted over 200 novelists, playwrights, song writers, scientists, historians, children’s writers, illustrators, journalists and poets, including 42 internationals, introduced a new spiegeltent venue, took to the streets, and hosted a glittering spoken word showcase. Featured writers included Lloyd Geering, Ian Rankin, Roxane Gay, Thomas Friedman, Anne Enright, Paul Beatty, Mpho Tutu Van Furth, A.N. Wilson, Ivan Coyote, Rupi Kaur, Teju Cole, George Saunders, Susan Faludi, John Lanchester, Mary Coughlan, Jay Rayner and Stan Grant. More than 5,700 students, from as far afield as Christchurch, filled the Aotea Centre for inspiring sessions. Max Harris delivered the Michael King Memorial Lecture and Dame Fiona Kidman was the 2017 Honoured New Zealand Writer.
10-15 May 2016
The 2016 Auckland Writers Festival broke attendance records once again with over 63,000 attendances across our new six-day event. We welcomed the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards into Festival week and over 5,000 children were enthralled and inspired by our extended three-day Schools Programme and took home a copy of the first edition of our READ THE WORLD book.
Highlights included sessions with international guests Gloria Steinem, David Hare, Jeanette Winterson, Marlon James, Hanya Yanigihara, John Boyne, Herman Koch, Jane Smiley, Michel Faber and Emma Skye.
Helene Wong delivered the Michael King Memorial Lecture, and our 2016 Honoured New Zealand Writer was Vincent O'Sullivan.
13–17 May 2015
With more than 62,000 seats filled, and an estimated 20 percent increase in ticket issues, the 2015 Auckland Writers Festival broke all records. Highlights of the Festival included sessions with international guests Haruki Murakami, Carol Ann Duffy, Alan Cumming, Tim Winton, Stephanie Alexande, Atul Gawande and Ben Okri. Over 4,000 children were enthralled and inspired by David Walliams and Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants). Bill hayton delivered the Michael King Memorial lecture and our 2015 Honoured New Zealand Writer was C.K. Stead.
14–18 May 2014
5–12 May 2013
The 2013 Festival ran from 15 to 19 May and broke all previous records with 34,000 seats filled.
Over five days, audiences packed Auckland’s Aotea Centre and Art Gallery to hear 150 writers and thinkers from around the world discuss, debate, present, explain, perform, read and sing in more than 100 sessions and workshops.
Particular highlights of the Festival included sessions with Kate Atkinson and William Dalrymple, as well as nonagenarian Lloyd Geering who attracted an audience of more than 1200 to the final day for an inspirational lecture on How Humans Made God.
9–13 May 2012
Sales for the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival hit an all-time high in 2012, with more than 24,000 tickets sold for the just-delivered five day programme. This represents a 10% increase on 2011.
11–15 May 2011
The eleventh Auckland Writers & Readers Festival was held at the Aotea Centre from 11 May to 15 May 2011. It boasted record numbers with attendances of 31,000, an increase over 2010 of 18%.
12–16 May 2010
The tenth Auckland Writers & Readers Festival was held at the Aotea Centre from 12 May to 16 May 2010.
It boasted record numbers with attendances of 25,500, including a 23% increase in bookings for the Schools Programme.
The 2010 Festival also starred in a television commerical: A huge thank you to Glenn, Paul and the guys at Kaleidoscope for creating it. Thanks also to Tamara and Liquid Studios for the perfect soundtrack.
13–17 May 2009
The ninth Auckland Writers & Readers Festival was held at the Aotea Centre from 13 May to 17 May 2009. Twenty-four international guests joined 75 local writers and commentators in 51 events, and the festival hosted the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Awards.
The festival audience was estimated at 25,000 in total, including 18,500 at the main festival, and 6,500 school attendances.
The Festival introduced a Schools Programme in 2009, held on 13 and 14 May with 12 events for intermediate and secondary school students. The response was staggering, and the Schools Programme declared a major success.
14–18 May 2008
The eighth Auckland Writers & Readers Festival was held at the Aotea Centre from 14 May to 18 May 2008. Nineteen international guests joined 60 local writers and commentators in 62 events.
The festival audience was estimated at 13,500.
24–27 May 2007
The seventh Auckland Writers & Readers Festival was held at the Aotea Centre from 24 May to 27 May 2007. Twenty-five international guests joined 83 local writers and commentators in 65 events.
Overall audience attendances were 14,800.
21 May 2006
The sixth Auckland Writers & Readers Festival was held at the Aotea Centre for one day in May 2006.
This one-day event featured ten international guests on their way to the Sydney Writers Festival that year. The success of this event led to the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival Charitable Trust Board voting to once again make the Festival an annual event from 2007 on.
19–22 May 2005
The fifth Auckland Writers & Readers Festival was held at the Hilton Hotel on Princes Wharf from 19 May to 22 May 2005. Seventeen international guests joined 111 local writers and commentators in 63 events. Overall audience attendances exceeded 11,000.
The Festival also produced a weekend of writing workshops the weekend of 14/15 May featuring Owen Marshall, James George, Diane Brown, Joan Rosier-Jones, Michael Bennett, Jill Malcolm, Stephen Stratford and Harry Ricketts on a range of topics.
15–18 May 2003
The fourth Auckland Writers & Readers Festival was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel from 15 May to 18 May 2003. Sixteen international guests joined 82 local writers and commentators in 45 events, including book launches for James George. Overall audience attendances were 8,000.
In 2004, the festival ran stand-alone events with Alain de Botton, D.B.C. Pierre (who had won the 2003 Booker Prize, Annie Proulx and Colm Toibin.
25–27 May 2001
The third Auckland Writers’ Festival was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel from 25 May to 27 May 2001. Eleven international guests joined 82 local writers and commentators in 43 events, including book launches for Shonagh Koea, Maurice Gee & Patricia Grace, Peter Wells and Jan Kemp. Overall audience attendances exceeded 6,500.
The Auckland Writers & Readers Festival Charitable Trust was formed in 2001, the festival was made a biennial event, and it’s name changed to “The Auckland Writers & Readers Festival” to acknowledge the importance of readers and writers. The next Festival was planned for May 2003.
In 2002, the festival ran stand-alone events with Rachel Seiffert and Andrew O’Hagan, and produced “Winter Writing Workshops” in June 2002 with Sue McCauley, Owen Marshall, Nick Ward, Paula Green and Geoff Walker/Michael Gifkins.
19–21 May 2000
The second Auckland Writers’ Festival was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel from 19 May to 21 May 2000.
Nine international guests joined 92 local writers and commentators in 48 events, including a celebration of Vintage’s 10th Birthday, and Robert Dessaix, Marilyn Duckworth and Martin Edmond talking about memoir and autobiography.
Overall audience attendances exceeded 5,600.
27–30 May 1999
The inaugural Auckland Writers’ Festival was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel from 27 May to 30 May 1999.
Seven international guests joined 70 local writers and commentators in 40 events, including “To the Lighthouse: North Shore Writers on the Ferry” featuring Tessa Duder, Kevin Ireland, Graeme Lay and Tina Shaw, and the first Buddle Findlay dinner with Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.
Overall, audience attendances exceeded 5,200. The festival had arrived.