Students from three South Auckland schools will attend the Auckland Writers Festival Schools Programme and receive one-on-one mentoring, gratis, in an initiative aimed at fostering Māori and Pasifika writing talent.
More than 90 students from Sir Edmund Hillary College, Otahuhu College and Manurewa High School will be rubbing shoulders with some of the best international and local novelists, poets, illustrators and performers in the programme which commences on 16 May.
Auckland Writers Festival director Anne O’Brien says the initiative aims to provide more students with the opportunity to celebrate reading and hone their own writing skills to assist them in navigating the world around them.
“Books and writing are gateways to a rich and inspiring life that can open doors to a world of ideas. The Festival wants to share this vision with the next generation and help build great readers and writers.”
Writer and university teacher, Paula Morris, supported by the Auckland Diversity Fund, will also lead a programme on short story writing around the theme of One Thousand and One Nights with selected students from the three schools involved in the project.
They will join up to 6000 primary, intermediate and secondary students from all over New Zealand for three packed days of laughter, learning and inspiration in the Aotea Centre, Auckland, hearing some of the world’s finest literary stars.
The schools programme, which is now in its 9th year, is supported by the Freemasons Foundation.
Among this year’s line-up are Charlie and Lola creator, British literary sensation Lauren Child; Canadian LGBTQI advocate, performer, film maker and writer Ivan Coyote; British fantasy writer Frances Hardinge; international YA writers Jennifer Niven and Amie Kaufman; and US Shakespeare expert James Shapiro. They join a cast of local literary luminaries including multi-award winning writer Witi Ihimaera; songwriter and musician Anna Coddington; animator Zak Waipara; blogger Alex Casey and spoken word poet Mohamed Hassan.
“We are thrilled to host such breadth and depth of writing talent in this year’s schools programme.
“From Shakespeare to blogging, performance poets to long form fiction, writing and reading has and always will be a gateway to understanding the world and ourselves,” says Ms O’Brien.
For the second year, the festival is producing its own book which every attending Intermediate and Secondary student will take home free. The book will include illustrations, poems and short stories by Witi Ihimaera, Glenn Colquhoun, Sarah Laing and Renata Hopkins.
It also plans to make sessions available digitally after the Festival is over for ongoing use in the classroom.
Tickets – which are only open for purchase via schools - are now available at a cost of $12 per student for day attendance encompassing four sessions. The events - which cater for students from Year 5 to Year 13 - have sold out in previous years, so schools are encouraged to book early.
Workshops, which offer highly motivated students a rare opportunity to learn from, and be inspired by, leading writers, are $15 per workshop per student.
Schools can apply for financial support to assist with transport costs. Applications are included with the programme.
The Auckland Writers Festival Schools Programme is made possible with the generous support of Gold Partner the Freemasons Foundation.