Festival 2020

The Bathhouse Co-op (a subsidiary of Te Puawai Cooperative Society Ltd) presents the second

Blackball Readers and Writers Festival

Queen’s Birthday Weekend, Saturday & Sunday 30-31 May, 2020

This intimate festival, a contribution to the West Coast transition economy, takes the model of the underground coal mine and transposes it to the world of NZ literature.

It takes place once again in the beautiful setting of the local school.

This festival will look at writers as activists, renegades and recluses.


Saturday 30t May, noon, assemble for lunch and powhiri at the Blackball school, following which:

In keeping with the task of resurrecting forgotten writers, Pat White and David Young will discuss the life and work of Peter Hooper, the West Coast writer and poet, teacher and bookshop owner, who lived a lonely yet fruitful life on the West Coast, influencing many aspiring creatives.

After a break, Caroline Selwood will speak with Sandra Arnold, whose work includes two novels, a book on parental bereavement, a short fiction collection and her third recent historical novel, The ash, the well and the Bluebell. To conclude the first session, Pat White will read some of his poems.

For those new to the village, a short guided tour will take place before dinner.

In the evening, starting at 8pm, guests are invited to a performance of Waiting for Greta, the remake of the classic Waiting for Godot, this time set within the climate crisis. Written by Paul Maunder, the hour long production, premiered in 2019, is by local group, Kiwi/Possum Productions.

Sunday morning, starting at 10.00am, Paddy Richardson will talk with Becky Manawatu, whose first novel, Auē, dealing with ‘kids, gangs and curdled masculinity’, has been very well received. At 11.30am, Elspeth Sandys will then speak with David Young about her extensive writing life with a focus on her latest work, A Communist in the Family: Searching for Rewi Alley, a story that combines family memoir, biography, history and travelogue.

After lunch, at 1.30pm Paul Maunder will talk with Nicky Hager, NZ’s best known investigative Journalist, whose books have uncovered environmental, political and military skulduggery. How did his work begin? What is the role of the journalist-writer, what is the methodology, what are the ethical issues?

At 3pm, the afternoon will conclude  with a panel discussion chaired by Kennedy Warne with two writers discussing their source material and their motivation,. Tim Jones, whose latest novel is a Cli-Fi book, Where we land will be joined by Kathleen Gallagher, whose recent novel Inangahua Gold is inspired by local history and environment. The festival will conclude with a dinner hosted by Paddy Richardson and Elspeth Sandys at which people can read a letter of importance in their lives, as part of the festival’s aim to resurrect the art of the letter.

The books of the festival’s guest authors and related works will be available to purchase throughout the weekend, and other writers are invited to bring books for a local mini market.

Ticket Prices

Full ticket covering both days $80 (inclusive of afternoon teas, Saturday lunch & dinner and Sunday lunch) – Sunday dinner to be paid for individually.

One day tickets $40 (includes lunch and afternoon tea)

Session Tickets $15

Accommodation for those from out of town: Blackball Hilton ($40 per night), Blackball Inn ($45), tiny houses at Blackball salami, AirBnB, and holiday cottages. For those on a low budget, there are 4 spaces available at the Brian Wood cottage and  freedom camping (including tent sites) will be available at the Community House.

Please register your and purchase tickets by emailing wkcultur@gmail.com. There will be a car pooling box.

Authors 2020





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