Dame Anne Salmond to be honoured at Writers Festival

The Auckland Writers Festival kicks off in May, with a number of University of Auckland representatives involved.

Distinguished Professor Dame Anne Salmond.
Distinguished Professor Dame Anne Salmond. Photo: Elise Manahan

The Auckland Writers Festival runs from 14 to 19 May with Distinguished Professor Dame Anne Salmond the 2024 Honoured Writer.

One of the events, on 17 May, features the Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori, Associate Professor Te Kawehau Hoskins, in conversation with Dame Anne, particularly focusing on her most recent book Knowledge Is a Blessing on Your Mind: Selected Writings, 1980-2020 (AUP, 2023).

Other University staff participating include Professors Michael Witbrock and Geoff Willmott, and Hineatua Parkinson (Science), Professor Elizabeth Broadbent and Dr Emma Espiner (FMHS), Professor Selina Tusitala Marsh, Associate Professor Paula Morris and Dr Lisa Uperesa (Arts), history alumnus Ryan Bodman, former associate professor Peter Simpson and five Master of Creative Writing alumni.

The full programme features more than 200 writers including US novelist and non-fiction writer Ann Patchett, global history professor Peter Frankopan (UK), New Zealand rugby great Dan Carter, renowned novelist and short story writer Patricia Grace and award-winning poet and author Tusiata Avia.

Stack of Greg O'Brien's book 'Don Binney: Flight Path'
Greg O'Brien's book 'Don Binney: Flight Path' (AUP)

As well, as part of the event, the winners will be announced on 15 May for the 2024 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. A book by a University of Auckland Master of Creative Writing (MCW) alumnus Jeff Evans been shortlisted in the non-fiction section – Ngātokimatawhaorua, the Biography of a Waka (Massey University Press, 2023).

There are a number of other University of Auckland-connected finalists in different categories. MCW alumna Emily Perkins is in the fiction section for Lioness (Bloomsbury) while alumnus Gregory O’Brien’s Don Binney: Flight Path (AUP) is a finalist in the illustrated non-fiction section.

Masters History alumnus Ryan Bodman is also an illustrated non-fiction finalist for his Rugby League in New Zealand: A People’s History (BWB). He told Ingenio last year that he couldn’t have written the book without his time at the University.

“The postgraduate seminars with people like Dr Deborah Montgomerie and Professor Caroline Daley helped refine my thinking around national identity. All that groundwork was laid at the University of Auckland.”

In the general non-fiction section, alumnus and former Pro Vice-Chancellor Pacific, Damon Salesa, is a finalist for his collection of essays, An Indigenous Ocean: Pacific Essays (BWB). In the same section is Dr Emma Wehipeihana (Espiner), medical alum, for her There’s a Cure for This: A Memoir (Penguin Random House).

In the poetry section, science alumnus Bill Nelson, who also studied creative writing at Victoria, is a finalist for his Root Leaf Flower Fruit: a Verse Novel.

The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Arts is one of the festival sponsors.

Distinguished Professor Dame Anne Salmond is in conversation with Associate Professor Te Kawehau Hoskins, Pro Vice-Chancellor Māori, at the Kiri Te Kanawa Centre, Aotea Centre, Friday 17 May at 11.30am. Free event.