NorthWrite 2018: Moving your Writing Forward

NorthWrite 2018 Registration Form (download) Registrations remain open until the day.

NorthWrite 2018 Presenters (link)

Workshop Descriptions (link)

The NorthWrite 2018 programme has been planned to give participants renewed energy and drive for their writing. Our presenters are all well-known within the New Zealand writing scene and we know you will learn much from their diverse talents, points of view and experiences.

NorthWrite runs from Saturday evening, 10 March, and through Sunday, 11 March. The Saturday night panel will be held at the NorthTec Apprentice Restaurant on the Ruamanga campus in Whangarei. Use Gate 3 (see map).  The workshops on Sunday will be held at the NorthTec Interactive Learning Centre, also on the Ruamanga campus. Use Gate 1.

NorthTec Map

The costs are as follows:

Saturday night panel:
All attendees $25

Sunday workshops:
NZSA members $75
Non-members $90

Registration opens 1 February. Lunch pre-orders will be available on the registration form. NorthWrite 2018 Registration Form

Presenter bios are here and workshop blurbs here.

The Programme











NorthWrite 2017: National Flash Fiction Day Workshop and Readings

This year’s NorthWrite event will be held at Kings Theatre Creative, Kawakawa, on 25 June 2017 in conjunction with National Flash Fiction Day. It will consist of a one-hour, flash fiction workshop, followed by flash fiction readings from Northland writers. Flash fiction writer, Vivian Thonger, will facilitate the workshop accompanied by improvised music from Ambients. The workshop is $10 per person and can be paid in cash on the day or by internet banking. (Please complete the form below if paying online.) The workshop will run from 1.30 – 2.30pm, followed by an afternoon tea break and then flash fiction readings from 3 – 4pm.


Since ancient times, people have understood that our senses feed off one another, mixing together sensory input in ways that inspire creative impulses and actions. The word synaesthesia describes a condition that a few people consciously experience: seeing sounds or hearing colours, for example. In this workshop, psychologist and flash-fiction writer Vivian Thonger guides participants into the world of sound, specifically improvised music, stimulating writing ideas to emerge and develop. Through a series of linked exercises, everyone is enabled to experience some form of sensory mingling and crossover. The aim is for every participant to generate, singly and in collaboration with others, a significant body of words, phrases and sentences that combine to form the beginnings of flash pieces and stories to take home. Because writing is usually a solitary activity, group work can have a powerful impact in kickstarting new ideas, new creations and fresh productivity. This intensive workshop is designed to have value for writers ranging from novices to veterans. You will leave with a whole heap of inspiration.

Vivian Thonger

Vivian Thonger of Kerikeri, is a writer, poet, performer and musician with degrees in psychology, art and creative writing. She moved to New Zealand in 2014, having previously lived in London, Cornwall, the Netherlands and Washington DC. A master moderator and qualitative professional for 30 years, Vivian has conducted hundreds of creativity sessions and trainings, for corporations, small companies, non-profits and clubs.

Her flash fiction has been published online on the Write Up North website, Flash Frontier and International Flash Fiction. This year’s highlights include her stint as resident poet at CollaboratioNZ 2017, a biennial international art event, and being asked to judge Whangarei District Libraries 2017 Flash Fiction Competition. She is a co-founder of the Bay of Islands Writers Group.

Vivian is also an enthusiastic member of Whangarei’s ImprovMob, purveyors of acting games and chaos, Northland’s Poetry Posse and co-founder and percussionist with Ambients, an ensemble creating spontaneous musical atmospheres.

Please complete the following form if you wish to pay by internet banking

Rae Roadley’s NorthWrite 2016 Highly Commended Entry

Rae Roadley was highly commended in the Northwrite competition with an extract from her novel, Have a Heart, which has now been published on Amazon and is available at

Rae’s highly commended extract follows. The winning story by Sun Lyoung Kim is available to read here.

Background to the excerpt …

The Omahu and Gunn families have been in conflict ever since Jack Gunn’s ancestors ‘stole’ Glory Omahu’s family’s land. When Glory sees her family’s taonga – pounamu and bone pendants, including a long-lost heart – in the Gunn homestead, she secretly swaps some for modern copies. When guilt prods, she plans to return them. Then Jack gives her a couple of pendants. In the following scene, Glory intends to give her father only the pendants returned by the Gunns, but to appease him also hands over a pendant she swapped – digging herself into deeper trouble.

The story continues …

With dinner dishes cleared, Glory smoothes the table cloth in front of her. “I’ve got something for you, Dad.” She glances at Auntie who knows one part of Glory’s story isn’t true, but will she believe the rest? “I heard through the grapevine that the Gunns had some artefacts from our family land – some pendants.”

“The heart?” Des jerks his chair and turns to Glory.

Glory edges away. She has to twist the truth or her story will unravel. “They found it on their land.” Glory reaches for the salt shaker and moves in tight circles. More lies.

“But it’s ours!” Des’s voice catches.

“Before 1976. It’s theirs.” Glory hopes her voice doesn’t give her away.

“I know the law,” Des huffs.

“And they’ve got other pendants, if you’d let me finish.”

“Good heavens. Right, sorry.”

It’s dead easy to make her father back down. “I’m in a position to make life difficult for Jack, but said I’d give up a couple of issues in return for a couple of pendants.”

“And he agreed?” Dahlia’s eyebrows arch. Has anyone ever put anything across her?

“Dahlia,” purrs Auntie, “You don’t realise the influence your daughter has. Her shop is a community gathering place and there’s talk she’ll be president of the business association.”

“Goodness.” Dahlia wriggles forward, like a child about to be told a fairy tale. But this is not a fairy tale, Glory reminds herself, not totally. And it’s about time her mother noticed her achievements. It was kind of Auntie not to say that some people don’t support the shop. Today she learned the new nurse at the medical centre is in a snit because Glory sells alternative health products. Glory can see her point.

“Taa daaa.” She places the bone fish hook on the table with a magician-like flourish. It’s similarity to Glory’s own fish hook has to mean something. Then she places the Tangaroa beside it.

“Ohh . . .” Auntie, keening as if she’s at a tangi, reaches into her bag for a tissue and whisks away fat tears. “You didn’t get the heart.”

“Well, um, the Gunns are attached to it …”

“It’s ours,” says Des.

“For goodness sake,” Glory snaps, exasperated, “it looks a bit like a souvenir.”

Auntie draws herself tall while Des says in an unfamiliar voice, “We don’t value our taonga based on looks, Glory.”

Glory’s eyes meet her father’s. His are dark and shadowed. She’s offended him. “I said ‘a bit like a souvenir’. It’s really beautiful.”

“The heart was given to our great-grandmother,” he says. “Grandma Maraea was devastated when she lost it.”

But was her upset an act? Maybe it was lost, or was Maraea so desperate to feed her family she really did swap the heart for food? Glory won’t mention that. There’s enough bad blood between the Omahus and Gunns. But why defend the Gunns? She’s not. She’s protecting her family.

“What’s wrong with these?” Glory indicates the fish hook and Tangaroa while fighting a temptation to drop the pendants she swapped onto the table. Would they shut them up?

Auntie picks up the Tangaroa. “It’s beautiful and precious.” She might be talking about any one of the hundreds of carnations Tom grows.

“I’ve tried to tell you about the heart,” grumbles Des in that way he has when Glory doesn’t show interest in her heritage. “If you knew its story you’d know its value.”

“The Gunns gave these to me. Maybe they’ll hand over the rest if I ask nicely.”

Auntie splutters with sarcastic mirth. “Why don’t I pop in and have a chat to Henry?”

Glory reaches to take the bone fish hook from her father. “Dad, if these don’t cut it, I’ll return them.”

“And exchange them for the heart?” Des’s words are submachine gun bullets – but he holds onto the pendant – tight.

Glory conceals a sigh. She’d expected him to be overwhelmed with happiness.

“They wouldn’t part with the heart. I did ask.” But her effort was pathetic. What if she’d pushed, really pushed? “Very sorry,” she offers with the smile that always melts her father. “Perhaps you could tell me the story.”

“Fat lot of good that will do.”

Glory stares agape. She’s never seen her father like this, didn’t know he could be like this. “Please?”

“I’ll tell her,” says Auntie, seeing Des set his face in a stubborn frown. “The heart belonged to our great-great-great grandmother Sarah, the daughter of a chief – Manuera. She was born in 1849 and in 1880 married a Dane who’d deserted a ship, here in Kaingatoi. Carl Solberg Christensen.”

“Quite old when she married, then,” says Glory. “Born 1849, married–”

“Thirty-one,” chips in Des, as Auntie and Glory exchange a knowing look.

“He’d been on a timber ship and had nicked something. The crew was going to lynch him. He took off and some Māori workers in a bush camp hid him – about nine miles away–”

“About half way to Crystal and Peter’s place?” asks Glory.

“Near the big bridge,” says Des. “They hid him in a steam boiler that wasn’t being used – and fed him. When the ship had sailed, they told him it was safe to come out.”

“Right.” Glory relaxes now her father’s also telling the story.

“All he had were the clothes he stood up in and his knowledge of boating.”

“And a violin,” says Auntie. “Our ancestors had never seen or heard one before. He entertained everyone and built them a dinghy and shaped timber into oars.”

“Which would have gone down well with Manuera – the chief. My great?”

“Four greats. Wiremu’s father.”

“And Sarah was Wiremu’s grandmother?” asks Glory.

“Yes. Anyways,” Des continues, “Carl became important, so important to Manuera, he said, ‘Carl, you belong to us. I want you to marry one of my daughters.’ Their first child was Maraea, born in 1881. Sarah died in 1897 – fifteen years after her marriage. Her headstone’s in the Kaingatoi Cemetery.”

“The heart?” asks Glory. “Where does it come in?”

“It was Sarah’s. Perhaps Carl gave it to her. No-one’s sure.”

“But the filigree? That must have come later?”

“Ahh, my daughter,” says Des, mellow now. “You are dead right. She married a Wiremu Omahu. No-one’s sure, but he may have sent the heart away to have that work done.”

“Perhaps to Auckland?” suggests Auntie. “We don’t know.”

“Two of Maraea’s sister’s also married Omahu brothers.”

“Perhaps not much choice?” suggests Glory.

“Perhaps strong, good-looking and intelligent men,” says Des, grinning. “And we also know the heart went to Maraea. But at one stage, she and Wiremu lost their house in a fire.”

“Dad, you told us that every time we wouldn’t eat our vegies. They cooked on corrugated iron and something caught fire.”

“Something like that.” Des grins. “Parents don’t always tell their children the truth when they won’t eat their veggies.”

“Dad!” Glory manages to sound indignant. “What’s the real story? Tell me.”

“There are two. One is that Wiremu upset someone who said, ‘Pay me or I’ll burn your house down’ – and he did. The heart was saved because Maraea was wearing it.” Des pauses, puzzled. “Guess she lost it later.”

“Guess so,” says Glory, playing along. “And version two?”

“That’s closer to the story I told you kids. They cooked on corrugated iron and the floor boards caught fire. The heart was saved because the kids had been playing with it.”

“And Maraea lost it later?” Glory repeats while thinking that Maraea might have been desperate enough to barter the heart. But wouldn’t the whanau have supported them?

“Exactly,” Des agrees. “Mum said that after Granny lost it they spent hours searching.”

Perhaps she was quite an actress, Glory thinks.

“If it was with us today, maybe your mother would be wearing it.”

Dahlia fingers her gold belcher chain. “If it’s anything like these knick-knacks, it’ll be very handsome. Glory, they’re a lot like the ones you sell, dear.”

“Mum, they are not knick–”

“My dearest Dahlia,” Des intones with a smile, “these pendants are not and never will be knick-knacks.” Then he turns to Glory, “Perhaps Jack will reconsider.”

Dahlia scoffs. “Don’t be ridiculous, Des.”

They sit in silence until Glory knows what she has to do. Her father has a special fondness for koru and Jack will never realise the koru in the cabinet is a copy. She reaches into her pocket, pulls it out and dangles the koru in a tantalising fashion on its fine cord.

“This was at the homestead as well.” Jack says white lies are okay.

Her father’s face softens and he smiles as he tentatively strokes the koru which appears to glow emerald in the evening light. Then he wraps an arm around Glory. “Good girl. You did your best.”

When Auntie launches into a waiata* Glory knows she’s done the right thing.

Tangi a te ruru,” Auntie thrills in a voice so clear Glory almost forgets to breathe. “Kei te hokihoki mai e, E whakawherowhero . . .” Kaingatoi Primary School kids have made this waiata their anthem. It was written to welcome home the Te Māori exhibition.

Dahlia dabs her eyes with her fingers. Glory can understand her father having a weep, but her mother?

Auntie’s voice fades. “The waiata’s about paths meeting and giving permission for things to leave. I guess the Gunns made an effort. In fact, it surprises me they’ve given us all these.”

“Guilt,” Glory says rather too quickly.

“I’m not surprised at all.” Des runs his fingers down the koru. “I’ll make sure all these taonga are loved and worn. Often in life, second-best turns out to be best.”

Glory will adopt this philosophy. She’s never wanted a shop that fits with conventional good taste, but she’ll adapt. And she lost her child, but never dreamed of having Sage in her life in such an intimate way.

“I can’t see myself wearing a koru or a fish hooky thing,” says Dahlia plaintively. “The heart, though, it sounds lovely.”

Glory pretends not to hear.

“The heart, if we had it, would go to Glory when she marries,” says Dad.

“Really?” Dahlia sounds like she’d put up a fight.

“How come?” Glory needs to get her father talking, to distract him.

He gazes into the distance. “The heart was given to Sarah as a gift from her husband. She began a tradition of handing it on as a bridal gift to the next generation. She gave it to Maraea – that’s when the gold was added.”

Dahlia looks distracted. History bores her. “The fish hook is like the one Auntie gave you, Glory.” She holds it against her chest, evaluating its suitability as an addition to her jewellery collection.

“Our iwi has produced many master carvers.” Des tips back his chair in the same way Jack did at dinner that night.

Glory has made him happy, but at what cost? She has to return the fish hook and pray the new koru won’t be spotted. But right now Glory needs to do something she’s never done before: listen. Soon her father is telling stories. Glory learns where her ancestors launched their waka, the paths they followed to the beach, the places they had hāngi, the sacred places they stored kūmara. He talks about the land the whānau gave the community so they could build the school that still stands today. She learns about the terrible day three boys drowned when a storm came out of nowhere, and why so many of her family left Kaingatoi and moved to the cities. Staying here was a path to nowhere.

“Plus too many Pākehā here thought they knew what was best for Māori,” says Dad.

Isn’t that the truth, Glory thinks, sipping her chamomile tea. It’s cold.


*Waiata from Te Hokinga Mai, by Te Taite Cooper and Father Mariu, 1986.

NorthWrite 2016 Competition Winner Announced

We are delighted to announce that Sun Lyoung Kim is the winner of the NorthWrite 2016 Competition for Northland Writers.

Mandy Hager and James George judged this competition. Mandy commented:

This story speaks to the spirit that brought many to Northland, a chance to start again and to redefine oneself in a new country. What I love about this story is its emotional core, a very authentic look into the fear and torn loyalties of setting out across the world in search of a better future. It is honest, moving, and brings to life a culture rarely represented in current New Zealand writing. It is also satisfying as a story, its scope much broader than the word count, condensing whole lives and journeys into this moment of significant change. I feel richer for having read it.

photo for SunSun Lyoung Kim is a Northland writer who grew up in South Korea. She emigrated to New Zealand 20 years ago.

Sun has completed a Diploma in Applied Writing at Northtec and is currently studying to become a teacher. As well as developing her own writing, Sun hopes to inspire and support beginning writers.

She has been published by Learning Media Ltd and LIFT Education. Sun writes a regular column about New Zealand education in the Korean Federation of Teachers newsletter.

Floating Island
by Sun Lyoung Kim

In the world, there are a lot of stories going on mysteriously. Nobody knows whether they are true or not. Nobody has seen these things, but everybody knows the stories …

Floating island … Maybe it has a tree? Maybe a bird? But beneath the island there would be a lot of different roots and they might be tangled with each other because they don’t know where to settle.

A blistering and gluey Korean midnight was sticking to Kang-Hee’s feet and oppressing her body.

“I hate summer!” She kicked off her blanket, then slid open the veranda window. Instead of welcome cold air, more humidity oozed across her skin. People were talking in the facing apartment and the sound of cars made her even more frustrated.

She glared down at them. “Shit!” She clutched her head.

The eighteen floors down seemed even more distant than usual.

“Must my life start from the bottom again?” She hit the cold steel railing of the veranda, the sound echoing within her heart along with last night’s conversation with Min-Ho.

Her husband had delivered big news.

Emigration … to a strange country, a strange people, a strange culture. It meant no job, no friends, and no family.

That was not only a problem for them, but also a problem for everybody and everything involved with them – jobs, communities, friends …

And especially for Min-Ho’s parents, who were the first parents in her life.

An orphan, she’d never known what happened to her real parents, but early on she’d realised she was different from other people. So she avoided watching TV programmes about families.

Instead she dreamed about having the perfect family – grandparents, Mum, Dad, and children. She knew what parents did for their children. They were like the sun – vital for life, even though people forgot how important it was because it was always there.

But Kang-Hee knew. She always desired the sun, just like a sunflower.

Yet now …

“Now I have parents who always listen when I’m talking and who hold my hands,” she murmured. “I don’t want leave them and I don’t want to make them live without us. For the first time I’m an ordinary person who has parents.”

Last night Min-Ho had showed her a booklet about New Zealand. It said, “The best environment in the world, the best social security in the world, and the best lifestyle in the world. You can do whatever you want here! In NEW ZEALAND!”  It was sweet.

But then … “Let’s emigrate,” Min-ho said.

“Are you kidding?” she asked.

“No, I’m serious,” he said. “Listen, Kang-Hee, please. This will give us what we’ve always wanted. We could both get a doctorate. I’ve checked everything about New Zealand already and this is the chance of a lifetime.”

She saw his eyes – shaken with pain, desire, fear, hope – and love.

She couldn’t say anything, but her own eyes said no.

A week later Min-Ho tried again.

“You and I grew up with poverty so we couldn’t do what we wanted. I don’t want poverty to be the heritage of our children. This is not for me. It’s for you, our children, Mum and Dad.”

“You are the only son of your parents. Do you think they will let you go? Also I really love them, you know that.”

She saw the memory of Min-Ho’s brother hit all his body cells and the huge pain – car accident, blood, loss, and emptiness …

Since then his parents were always afraid of losing the other son in their life. She told Min-Ho, “If you want to go, you go without me.”

“Please … please … I love you. I want to go with you.” Burning tears ran down his cheeks and he gripped her hand. “They will understand. I need you.”

Brrrrng, brrrng.

Kang-Hee looked at the phone. She didn’t move, she watched Min-Ho.

“Hello,” he said. “Hi, how are you?”

She could hear the soft voice begging them to visit.

“Don’t worry, Mum, we’ll be there in the weekend,” Min-Ho assured her.

On Saturday Min-Ho and Kang-Hee drove to their parents’ house. It took just two hours, but to Kang-Hee it seemed to take forever.

“Mum, Dad, we’re here. Where are you?” Min-Ho shouted.

“Here!” There was Mum. She rushed towards her son without her shoes. “How are you?”

“We are fine. Where is Dad?” He looked around.

“He’s fixing the roof because it’s leaking a little bit. Don’t worry, he’ll figure it out. You two, just relax, please.” Mum pulled their hands to bring her children into the room.

“I want to see my father first. Dad! Dad!”

Kang-Hee watched father-in-law’s bent back and thought, His life is like that of a salmon.

These fish are born in the stream but spend almost all their lives at sea. They come back to the place where they were born only to lay their eggs. Their tiny bodies swim upstream against the flow of the water. Sometimes they meet enemies like birds, bears or humans, and they fall repeatedly when they try to leap waterfalls. Some of the salmon eventually succeed in returning home.

Then finally they make a place for their eggs with their fins. They don’t care whether their fins are torn or not, they think only of their young.

After laying the eggs, the salmon die. They don’t expect any payback for their sacrifice for their children.

They remind Kang-Hee of Min-Ho’s parents.

Min-Ho’s father sold everything he had for his two sons’ school fees, and he and his wife did not have anything for themselves. They had to sell vegetables for their daily bread. Although their life was tough, they never asked for help. They wanted only their sons’ happiness.

There were father and son, full of the sunset glow, talking, working and laughing together. It was like a still-life to Kang-Hee.

After dinner Min-Ho made his parents sit down in front of him and he fell on his knees. “Mum and Dad, I need tell you something important. As you know, I’ve dreamed about going abroad for study. I think now it’s time to go – I mean, emigrate to another country.” He couldn’t continue.

“What!” Mum said. “You know about Yankee, don’t you?” Mum always called English people Yankee. “They will ignore you because you have yellow skin. You cannot go!” She was almost screaming.

“No, Mum, that’s your wrong idea. Now it’s the twentieth century. Nobody ignores people because of their differences.”

“But …” Mum started, then stopped at a look from Dad.

“I always felt sorry that I could not support you two like other parents,” Min-Ho’s father said. “Will you study together?”

“Yes,” Min-Ho replied.

“Won’t it be tough for Kang-Hee?” he asked.

Kang-Hee shook her head.

“If I said do not go there, what would you do?” Dad asked Min-Ho.

“I would still go,” he replied in a strong voice.

Father stood up and went out of the room.

Min-Ho continued trying to persuade Mum that they would be happy, but there was no end to her tears.

Min-Ho and Kang-Hee went back to the city with very tangled and heavy threads in their minds.

A month later Kang-Hee answered the phone.

“It’s me.” Mum didn’t ask how Kang-Hee was.

“Yeah … Mum.” Kang-Hee couldn’t ask either.

“How is it going? When will you leave?”

It was her first question about their leaving. Kang-Hee had rung the parents a lot, but they’d never mentioned it.

“Maybe the end of this month,” she replied carefully.

“Can you stay with us for a few days before you leave?” Mum’s voice was shaking.

“Yes,” Kang-Hee gulped down her tears.

Time went too fast and they moved to their parents’ place.

Min-Ho and Kang-Hee fixed the house and cooked meals every day. All the family shared their love as if they were never going to meet again. Yet they never talked about the emigration.

The day before their leaving, Kang-Hee walked around the house. Deep breath… this is air of Korea. I will remember you.

She touched the soil. This is the land where I was born. Thank you.

Opened the kitchen door. This is the smell of family.

Everything made her miserable.

Next morning the family had a very calm breakfast, then set off for the international airport. There were a lot of people. While Min-Ho weighed the baggage, Kang-Hee noticed their parents’ hair. It looked whiter than usual.

Do I have to go? Even at that moment she asked herself the question.

“It’s ready,” Min-Ho told the parents determinedly.

“Okay. Please look after yourselves. Don’t worry about us. We will be fine.” Mum started sobbing.

“Mum, I love you.” He hugged his parents and Kang-Hee did too.

Father-in-law hugged her tight without talking.

None of them knew when they could meet again and how many times they would have to repeat this parting. Kang-Hee tried to repress her tears but she couldn’t stop their flow.

Min-Ho snatched her hand and pulled her through to the other side of the gate. The gate closed behind them.

Briefly it opened again as someone else came through. Kang-Hee saw her mother-in-law crouched down on the ground crying. Then the gate closed again.

Min-Ho hauled her further down the corridor. “Honey, please don’t look back. That’s the best way for them and us.” In his eyes tears gathered. “Let’s go.” And he dragged her by the hand to the plane.

As the plane very slowly lifted, Kang-Hee looked for her mother-in-law and father-in-law through the small window but she couldn’t find them. The plane gained height and she stretched her neck, craning desperately, until she could no longer see Korea.

Her throat was choked with longing.

“Please don’t cry any more. I will be with you.” Min-Ho hugged her and looked for a handkerchief in her handbag. “What is this?” He pulled out two small white paper bags, labelled with their names.

“I don’t know.” She opened hers and found a letter.

Dear daughter-in-law.

If you see my letter, I guess you are in the plane. It means I am already missing you.

After I lost my oldest son I couldn’t fill up my emptiness, but you did. Mum and I were very happy because you were there.

I believe it is not the last time I will see you.

I believe you will overcome with my son all kinds of difficulties.

I believe you can be whatever you choose.

Please study harder and work harder than the native people. You know if you want to be a trustworthy person in the other country you have to be the hardest worker among them.

Anyway, I packed a sandwich for you and my son for lunch. I hope you like it.

Don’t forget, I will be with you whatever you do, wherever you go.

I love you so much.

I will miss you.

Sincerely, your father-in-law.

There was a sandwich, a small sandwich.

She kept the sandwich in her bosom, along with her sadness, her hope, and the love of her parents-in-law, and she started her new journey as a floating island.


NorthWrite 2016: Competition Judges

We have already started receiving entries for the NorthWrite 2016 writing competition and look forward to many more. A reminder that this competition is open to Northland writers only and the prize is attendance at a National writer’ conference. You can find the guidelines and entry form here. The closing date is Monday 28 March. As this is Easter Monday entries postmarked 29 March will be accepted. Our judges are Mandy Hagar and James George.

Mandy Hager

Mandy HagarMandy Hager is a multi-award winning writer of fiction for young adults, and is a tutor on Whitirea NZ’s creative writing programme. Her most recent award is the 2015 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year with Singing Home the Whale, and in 2014 she was awarded the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, one of New Zealand’s oldest and most prestigious writing awards, which enabled her to spend six months living in Menton, in the South of France as she researched a new project.

She has won the LIANZA Book Award for YA fiction three times (Smashed, 2008, The Nature of Ash, 2013, Dear Vincent, 2014), the New Zealand Post Book Award for Young Adult fiction (The Crossing, 2010), an honour award in the 1996 Aim Children’s Book Awards (Tom’s Story), Word Weavers Excellence Award (2002), Golden Wings Award (2003) and five Notable Book awards. Her Blood of the Lamb’ trilogy has been published in the United States by Pyr Books. She has also been awarded the Beatson Fellowship (2012) and Writer In Residence at Waikato University (2015).

As well as the above books, she writes adult fiction, short stories, non-fiction, educational resources, blogs and articles, and has a passion for writing “stories that matter”.

James George

James GeorgeJames George is a fiction writer of Ngāpuhi, English and Irish descent. His first published novel was Wooden Horses in 2000. His 2003 novel Hummingbird was a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004 and the Tasmania Pacific Fiction Prize 2005. An excerpt from Hummingbird, Zeta Orionis, won the premiere award in the Māori Literature Awards 2001. His third novel, Ocean Roads, was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in the South East Asia and South Pacific region. In 2007, he was the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellow. He has recently completed his fourth novel, Sleepwalkers’ Songs, due out mid-2016. He is a tutor at the AUT Centre for Creative Writing, and has previously taught creative writing at the University of Auckland (Continuing Education) and Unitec. James is a trustee of Toi Māori Aotearoa – Māori Arts New Zealand and is the current chair of Te Ha, its literature committee. James is based in Auckland, but sees Northland as his “ancestral and spiritual home”.

NorthWrite 2016: Writing Competition for Northland Writers

We have been a bit quiet lately organising our NorthWrite event for 2016. This year it is a competition open to writers residing in Northland. We realise a number of our followers are not from Northland but please do continue to follow us as we will be organising open events in the future. And if you happen to know a Northland writer who might not be following us then please pass on this information.


Registration at a 2016 national writers’ conference of your choice to the value of up to $700. For conferences where the registration fees are less than this amount, the balance of the prize may be used to cover travel and/or accommodation costs (receipts are required). A list of the conferences covered by this prize is set out below.

The competition

Entrants are asked to submit one piece of unpublished writing of up to 2000 words in length that has been inspired in some way by the land, people or history of Northland. This may be in any genre (short story, flash fiction, novel excerpt, essay, article or poem).

Competition guidelines

Entrants must:

  • be 18 years old or over
  • be permanent residents of Northland*
  • complete the attached entry form (download here), including a short statement of up to 500 words explaining how attendance at the conference will support their progress as a writer. (This statement will be taken into account by the judges.)

One entry per person only.

The entry must be the original work of the writer and must not have been published, either in print or online.

The writer’s name and contact information must be on the entry form only. Any submissions with the writer’s name or other details on the writing entry will be disqualified.

Entries should be 1.5 or double spaced and printed on one side of the paper only.

Post two copies of the entry form and two copies of your writing submission to:

NorthWrite Competition

PO Box 841

Kerikeri 0245

Entries close on Monday 28 March at 5pm.

The judges’ decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

Copyright of entries will remain with the writers.

The results and judges’ comments will be published on the NorthWrite website.

The Northland Branch of NZSA reserves the right to publish the winning entry on their NorthWrite website.

Should the winner be unable to attend their chosen conference, the prize may be awarded to another finalist at the organisers’ discretion.

Entry fee

The entry fee is $15, to be paid by internet banking or at a bank to ANZ account number 06-0493-0251640-00. Please use your surname/family name and initial as a reference when making this payment.

*The Far North, Whāngārei and Kaipara Districts make up Northland. If you live in one of these districts you are eligible to enter.

Auckland Writers Festival
10 – 15 MAY 2016

The Auckland Writers Festival brings the very best local and international writers of contemporary fiction and non-fiction, scientists, economists, poets, journalists and public intellectuals together with audiences to explore ideas, share stories and experience brilliant conversations. We celebrate curiosity and a sense of intellectual adventure and our programme is driven by the desire to spark ideas, to get us talking and to give us a time and place to engage with the world.

Click here for more information

Romance Writers of New Zealand (RWNZ) Conference
12 – 14 AUGUST 2016

Keynote speaker, Michael Hauge, will be conducting his Story Mastery full-day workshop on Friday and speaking throughout the weekend. Kathryn Burnett (script and screen writer) will also present. The line-up of speakers over the weekend will inspire, educate and entertain writers at all stages of their writing journey. More information on other speakers will be posted as it comes to hand.

Click here for more information

IBBY Congress
18 – 21 AUGUST 2016

The International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) is a non-profit organisation representing an international network of countries and people, mostly volunteers, dedicated to bringing books and children together.

Nearly two decades into the 21st century it is time to reflect on and to redefine what it means to be literate and what young people’s literature might ‘look like’ in a future where story is conveyed, not only through written and oral modes but also, increasingly, through visual, gestural, spatial and digital modes. This Congress offers a forum for delegates from throughout the world to discuss these challenges and offer solutions.

Click here for more information

Going West Books and Writers Festival
9 – 11 SEPTEMBER 2016

This annual literary festival takes place in Waitakere City each September and is dedicated to celebrating the writing of New Zealand authors. Going West will sponsor a double ticket if the winner selects this festival.
Click here for more information

National Writers’ Forum
17 – 19 SEPTEMBER 2016

The National Writers’ Forum is an exciting new event on New Zealand’s literary calendar.

It is for people who write – books, graphic novels, poetry, flash-fiction and interactive forms.

The National Writers’ Forum will deliver detailed information on particular subjects with master classes, workshops, case studies, keynote speakers and panel discussion.

It is a two day intensive where writers will talk, learn and share information about the craft of writing and the business of getting published – traditional, hybrid and indie – print and digital. It will discuss the prospects for writers in the new democracy of the digital world and the state of play in New Zealand right now.

Māori Writers Festival
15 –16 or 22 – 23 OCTOBER 2016

This will be a fabulous conference for Māori writers. We will keep you informed as dates are confirmed and as other details come to hand.

Literary August in Northland, New Zealand

While not part of the NorthWrite schedule there are some exciting literary events happening around Northland this month. If you are in the north we hope you will have the opportunity to check out and support our local and visiting writers, poets and illustrators.


(Please scroll down for full details)

CE-Whangarei Fiction Course



Fiction is perhaps the dominant form of writing in the world. Behind every film, comic, production, script, book, TV show and great speech lies narrative text. Narrative also underscores news reporting, academic writing and oral storytelling. By arranging words and stories in a certain order with a certain voice, we make the ordinary into something extraordinary. If you are interested in fiction writing then this introductory couMichael Botur-235rse, taught by an experienced and much-published writer, will introduce you to cliche, point of view, narrative structure, dialogue, editing, conflict, genre and poetic prose.  At the end of the course you will publish a book with your fellow students.
Tutor: Michael Botur
ID: C260
Date: starts Wednesday 5 August 2015
Length: 8 weeks
Time:  6-8pm
Course Price: $80
Enrol here:

Film & Literature Sunday Sessions at Kings Theatre in Kawakawa

Talented local authors and poets from the New Zealand Society of Authors will showcase their work and provide inspiration and guidance on how to turn creative ideas into published books.

The author events run from 1–4pm at the Kings Theatre, 80 Gillies St, Kawakawa, with a complimentary cup of tea from 12.30pm. There is a koha/donation/entry fee of $2, $5, or $10. The events are whānau friendly and tamariki are welcome.


On Sunday 9 August the guest authors include creative non-fiction writer and author of Millennium A Memoir, Peri Hoskins; biography and memoir writer, Kathleen Wynn; personal development writer Gwendolyn Needham; and award-winning writer of young adult fiction and local histories, Diana Menefy. Diana’s novel for young adults set during World War 1, 1915 Wounds of War, was published earlier this year. Her local history, Hukerenui in the beginning is a popular Northland read.

As well as talking about their own writing processes and books published, the authors will form a panel and invite questions from the audience, and there will also be an opportunity to meet and greet the authors and get books signed.

Peri Hoskins

Peri HoskinsOf Ngapuhi and Anglo-Celtic descent, lawyer and writer Peri spent most of his childhood in Whangarei. His first published book, Millennium A memoir is a novella-length piece of creative non-fiction based on a diary he kept during a trip to Tonga at the turn of this century. The underlying theme is the quality of time, and Peri draws on ancient Hindu teachings to reflect the slice of life travelogue. He is currently working on an autobiographical novel, East, based on the five months he spent travelling around Australia in 1994.

Diana Menefy

DiDiana’s writing career began with stories and articles in the New Zealand Farmer and School Journal in the late 1970s and early 1980s. After five years as a part-time feature writer for the local paper, she went freelance to work on commissioned histories. In 2001 her first junior novel River Crossing was published, as well as her sixth commissioned non-fiction book, The Centenary of Whangarei Hospital. Other books followed, including Pounamu New Zealand Jade and her next junior novel, Shadow of the Boyd, which won the LIANZA Esther Glen Medal in 2011 and was shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards that year. Her latest historical fiction young adult novel, 1915 Wounds of War, was released in April this year, as well as a new edition of Hukerenui… in the beginning. She is now working on Chasing Silver, about the old silver mines at Puhipuhi in the early 1890s. Diana co-ordinates the NorthTec writing course.

Gwendolyn Needham

GwendolynGwendolyn is a freelance community social educator, leading workshops and writing books in order to inspire and empower people to take charge of their lives. She started writing when she was a priest and saw a need for more basic, non-academic texts on personal development. She has written High Roads: Keys to personal power and business success, Lasting Relationships in Life, Love and Marriage, and Dear Young Adult New Zealanders.

Kathleen Wynn

Kathleen’s first magazine article was published in 1971. She has been writing material for and with students since the 1980s (including plays, which the students performed). In the last 10 years she has focused on writing biography, and has completed or ghost written about 25 biographies and memoirs, many of them for hospice patients. She has also edited two collections of student writing, Find Your Voice, and Speak Out. She tutors on the NorthTec writing course.


The featured authors on Sunday 16 August are award-winning author of a mystical thriller based on the events of 9/11, The Brotherhood of Purity, Connie Atkinson; journalist and author of Love at the End of the Road: Finding my Heart in the Country, Rae Roadley; and fantasy writer Derin Attwood, author of The Token Bearers trilogy.

As well as  talking about their books, these authors will be joined by other NZSA authors and editors to form break-out groups offering tips on getting started, editing, writing memoirs and traditional and non-traditional approaches to getting published. There will also be a chance to meet and greet the authors and purchase signed copies of their books.

Connie D. Atkinson

ConnieOriginally from the USA, Connie Di Carlo-Atkinson is a writer and lecturer. Her latest novel, The Brotherhood of Purity, is a mystical thriller that explores whether it is possible to see a terrorist other than with hate. The novel has won two literary awards. Since the launch of her book, Connie has been actively advocating for alternative means of peaceful resolution to the crises we face in a complex and diverse world.

Derin Attwood

DerinWhangarei fantasy writer Derin Attwood started writing a short story for her children in 2005 that turned into a novel. It became the first book in The Token Bearers trilogy: The Caves of Kirym, The Fortress of Faltryn and The Trail to ChurnygThe Caves of Kirym was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel awards.

Rae Roadley

Rae RoadleyRae Roadley worked in publishing, public relations and journalism before moving to her hometown Whangarei to report for the daily newspaper. She soon fell for a farmer and moved to his farm on a Kaipara Harbour peninsula where she began freelance writing. After being charged by a couple of bulls, she started writing newspaper columns about rural life for The Northern Advocate. Feedback from readers inspired her to write Love at the End of the Road which tells of her life and includes stories about the area’s pioneer past and present. Rae is a writing tutor at NorthTec.


On Sunday 23 August, poets from Whangarei and the Far North will share their love of words in an impromptu ‘open mic’ live performance. Promising energy, passion and humour, all poets are invited to join in the performance on the day.


The final Sunday Session on 30 August will feature local films (details to be advised).

For more information check out

National Poetry Day – Friday 28 August at Mokaba Cafe, Whangarei

NPD-Mokaba-Cafe-Poetry-Poster-V2National Poetry Day will be celebrated in Whangarei with a performance poetry event at Mokaba Café, Town Basin, Whangarei, Friday 28 August, 5.30-9pm. Featuring the launch of Fast Fibres Poetry 2 with poets Piet Nieuwland, Maureen Sudlow, Victoria del la Varis-Woodcock, Michael Botur, and others.

Open Mic Poetry – all welcome.

Contact: mokabapd[at]

Facebook: mokaba café poetry  

Storylines Festival Northland Family Day – Saturday 29 August



Climb aboard the pages of a book and fly on in to the Storylines Family Day in Kerikeri!

Free entry but gold coin donation welcome.

Come and meet our guest authors and illustrators :  Stacy Gregg, Tessa Duder, Ruth Paul, Reading Warrior David Riley, and from Northland, meet
Terry Fitzgibbon, Catherine Foreman,  Mary Kelleher, Di Menefy,
Janine McVeagh,
and Kelly Wilson!

Come and hear storytellers Waikarere Gregory share Māori creation stories
and “The Gardener” Michael Joyce bring some picture books
to life with audience participation…

Listen to stories being read, authors and illustrators talking about their art and craft, create your own illustrations and learn techniques from artists, take part in book quizzes and cartooning workshops, design the next NRL jersey, make a book and book art, learn knots and cat’s cradle, tell your autobiography, have your face painted, learn about e-books from the FNDC Library team, fish for words, create your reading fingerprint AND MORE…

In the Plaza:

  • Stories and words, books and reading, art and craft, activities and fun for all ages.
  • Visit Paper Plus Kerikeri to buy books and get them personally signed.
  • Pop into the FNDC Libraries cave for stories and craft
  • Get your face painted
  • Play some book-ish games – memory challenge book covers, match the character and title, find the NZ setting on a map.
  • Come along in fancy dress as a book character, in your pjs for a story, as a pirate for a pirate parade or as a sporting hero – spot prizes for entries! Meet Spot and Clifford.

In the Writing Zone:

  • Greet authors and talk about being a writer, about reading and books. Guests include Tessa Duder, Stacy Gregg, Kelly Wilson (Kaimanawa Horses), Di Menefy, Janine McVeagh, and Mary Kelleher.
  • Enter the writing competition with a short story telling us about the places reading takes you – perhaps in your imagination through the pages of a book, or maybe real places you like to go to read.
  • Make a hand-made book and tell your own story – eg family event, biography, favourite things.
  • Fish for words to make a sentence, create some art work and small Violet Mackerel treasures out of old books, personalise your bookmarks, create your reading fingerprint and more.
  • Explore some facts and fiction around the sea, horses, and sports – learn how to read a chart, tie a bowline or half hitch, discover a horse’s age from its teeth.

In the Illustration Zone :

  • Meet more authors and illustrators in the illustration zone and be artists together.
  • Guests include Ruth Paul, David Riley, Catherine Foreman and Terry Fitzgibbon.
  • Enter the illustration competition – create an art work to illustrate one of our Storylines Day themes around boats, horses, flowers, dinosaurs or sport
  • Join in making a fabulous mural with artists Terry Fitzgibbon and Ruth Paul – under the sea, doing a dinosaur stomp.
  • Get designing with David Riley, telling a story with a rugby league jersey – create your own theme and colour scheme, or how about a unique take on a wrestler’s mask and outfit?
  • Create the Cat’s Pyjamas for out-of-this-world dreams with Catherine Foreman, and have a go at Stu Duval’s cartoon characters.

In the Storytelling Zone:

  • The Gardener, Michael Joyce, will bring some picture books to life – with the help of the audience!
  • Far North Storyteller Waikarere Gregory tells some Māori creation stories in English and te reo
  • Ruth Paul and Catherine Foreman share their own wonderful picture books with you.

In the Presentation Zone:

  • A quiet space for our guest authors and illustrators to talk to you about their writing and art and share their stories with you.

In the Book Chat / Book Signing area:

  • Come and have a chat one-on-one with our guest authors, and ask them to sign your books.

In the Workshop / Competition Zone :

  • Take part in a Kiwi Kids Book Quiz – 3 levels : Years 1 – 3, Years 4 – 6, Years 7 – 9. Test your knowledge and recall of all our favourite kiwi authors / illustrators / titles and series.
  • Learn about quick-draw cartoons – follow Stu Duval’s simple instructions starting with a letter or a number to create fun faces or wacky critters.

Free entry but gold coin donation welcome.

Invitation to An Afternoon with Geckos on Friday 17 April

Northwrite presenters, Gay Hay and Brenda Martin invite children aged 4–8 years old to explore the world of geckos at the Whangarei Museum and Heritage Park (Kiwi North) on Friday afternoon from 2–3.30 pm. Gay will read her delightfully illustrated Go, Green Gecko! while the children make close-up observations of a live green gecko. After making their own green geckos from craft materials, children and parents will have the opportunity to visit the fascinating geckos that live at the park. There is a koha of $5 per child for this workshop, with all proceeds going to Kiwi North. Parents and caregivers do not need to be attending NorthWrite to come to this event. Gecko

New Presenter for NorthWrite

We are delighted to announce that Bryan Staff of Wordstaff will be running a session on contracts in both the commercial and whānau publishing workshops at NorthWrite.

BryanBryan Staff runs Wordstaff Ltd – a company catering to authors, publishers and editors in the book, magazine, radio and television fields. He has written books for Moa Beckett, Penguin, Sunshine Press, and generated his own book through Batemans on the history of records and record companies in New Zealand. As a photographer Bryan has supplied prints to New Zealand websites, magazines, and pictorial books as well as photographing for record companies. In 2013 he became editor-in-chief for DigiSync Books in New York, overseeing the transcription of English novels and Shakespearean plays into an electronic format for iPads. Last year Bryan edited and produced a book for a friend who wished to record her matriarchal lineage. He is also the subeditor and proof reader for the NZ Genealogical Magazine.

Information on all presenters is available on the presenters’ profile page.

Early Bird Specials Closing

Just a note to remind you that the early bird fee for NorthWrite 2015: Creating books to be proud of closes midnight tomorrow, Tuesday 31 March. Fees then increase by $15. Registrations close 16 April.

Early bird registrations (before 1 April 2015):

  • NZ Society of Authors members $75
  • Non-members $85

Registrations from 1 April 2015:

  • NZ Society of Authors members $85
  • Non-members $100

Download the registration form here: Registration Form

If you have any questions please use the Ask Us A Question page.