AUCKLAND WRITERS FESTIVAL 11 – 16 MAY 2021 – Programme out now

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For six glorious days from 11 to 16 May, we will present over 200 writers with events that include conversation, reading, debate, and performance, as well as schools’, family and free events, ranging fiction, non-fiction, poetry, music, theatre, culture, art and more.

This year’s Auckland Writers Festival, as ever, proudly celebrates New Zealand writing and writers – it is about us, here and now. We are delighted to also welcome over 20 international guests and a major theatre work direct from the UK.

While we’ve had to take a slightly different approach this year (for obvious reasons), we’ve curated a programme that is as full as ever and have built on our kaupapa of live engagement, with a handful of bespoke digital sessions featuring international writers-of-note and major award-winners to be delivered direct into venue for our live Festival audience.

Two marquee events will stream live to the Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre screen:

  • Nobel Laureate and former Booker Prize-winner Kazuo Ishiguro
  • Artist, activist, architect, curator and filmmaker Ai Weiwei

Continuing the success of the Festival’s 2020 COVID-pivot – our beloved Winter Series returns as our Autumn Salon Series – there will be three-morning sessions, each comprising two internationals and one New Zealander based overseas, broadcast live into the Aotea Centre and facilitated by consummate host Paula Morris. These include:

  • Novelist, feminist and philanthropist Isabel Allende
  • Actor and memoirist Gabriel Byrne
  • Novelist and short story writer Yiyun Li
  • Renowned novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson
  • 2020 Costa Novel Award Winner Monique Roffey
  • 2021 Booker Winner Douglas Stuart
  • Award-winning writer and host of the On Writing podcast JP Pomare
  • Award-winning filmmaker, screenwriter, poet and script consultant Miro Bilbrough
  • Mohamed Hassan, National Slam Champion and Ockham NZ Book Awards poetry shortlister

We also welcome a line-up of international writers in-person:

  • Multi-award winning writer for readers of all ages Neil Gaiman
  • Rare book dealer and author Rick Gekoski
  • Australia’s Victorian Prize for Literature 2021 recipient Laura Jean McKay
  • Forensic pathologist and columnist Judy Melinek with her husband and co-author of her New York Times bestseller Working Stiff TJ Mitchell
  • Performer Amanda Palmer
  • Award-winning Australian novelist and former park ranger Carrie Tiffany
  • Founder and radical executive officer of The Body is Not An Apology, Sonya Renee Taylor

Our New Zealand line-up traverses topic, genre and age, as ever, with over 200 local literary legends including:

  • 2021 Honoured Writer Brian Turner
  • 2018 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize and 2021 Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington IIML/CNZ Writer in Residence, Pip Adam
  • Former member of the Pacific Panthers and lecturer in Pacific Studies at The University of Auckland, Melani Anae
  • Emeritus Professor, writer, researcher and specialist on cultural heritage and contemporary practice, Ngahuia te Awekotuku
  • Award-winning poet and Ockham shortlister, Airini Beautrais
  • 21-year-old South Auckland based Iraqi poet and musician, Raneem Caco
  • Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction 2020 Winner, Weng Wai Chan
  • Current NZ Poet Laureate David Eggleton
  • Editor of the Dominion Post, former Beijing bureau chief of the Washington Post, and author of The Great Successor: The Secret Rise and Rule of Kim Jong Un, Anna Fifield
  • Multi-award winning novelist, short story writer, children’s author, recipient of an Arts Foundation Icon Award and a Prime Minister’s Literary Award, Patricia Grace DCNZM, QSO 

And there is so much more. Please visit for the full line-up, or here for the eBook version of our 2021 programme.

Tickets are on sale this Friday, 12 March at 9:00AM via Ticketmaster.


The Festival’s workshop series is always popular among literary followers, fellow writers and emerging wordsmiths. This year they include a series of live and livestream sessions in the Aotea Centre with Kevin Barry (Short Fiction), Mary Karr (The Art of Memoir. Pictured), Yiyun Li (Storytelling Geometry), Andrew O’Hagan (Unpicking the Essay), Marilynne Robinson (Elements of Craft), Michael Robotham (Compelling Characters in crime writing), Shaun Tan (Picture Book Practice), alongside in-person workshops with Sue Copsey (Self-Editing), David Eggleton (The Bare Essentials in poetry), Rebecca Macfie (True Stories), Eileen Merriman (Crafting YA), Paul Kalburgi (The Writer’s Toolkit), Carl Nixon (Destroying the (Perceived) Constraints of Theatre), and Carrie Tiffany (Collage for Writers).

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