Hang in there for the last week of the NZ Festival

SHELAGH MAGADZA
Last updated 14:15 10/03/2014
Shelagh LS
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ

Shelagh Magadza, artistic director of the New Zealand Festival.

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NZ Festival 2014

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OPINION: Woo hoo - the last week of the New Zealand Festival so hang on in there - you've got all winter to sleep so don't flag now. As I look down the list of events coming in the next six days, there is a lot that will keep me awake despite my own tiredness.

The weekend kicked off Writers Week and a host of literary luminaries are already in Wellington. Elizabeth Gilbert, Jung Chang and Marcus Chown are names you may have heard of, but for me the wonderful thing about writers festivals is discovering authors you may not have come across before and going home with a great stack of books to see you through the winter. People such as best-selling Italian author and economist Loretta Napoleoni, who is an expert on terrorist financing networks, talked yesterday about her latest book Maonomics: Why Chinese Communists Make Better Capitalists Than We Do. I'm also really looking forward today to hearing Jamaican poet and novelist Kei Miller whose beautiful writing has already brought a tear to my eye.

The past success of children's writers sees more on offer this year. The work of Belgian illustrator and writer Leo Timmers has been a huge hit with the kids in my family. I calculated I must have read his bestseller Who's Driving hundreds of times over the last five years. So I found myself being a bit of a goofy fan when I met him a few days ago.

There was also a special opportunity to go behind the scenes with the Academy Award winning team from Weta Digital and find out how their amazing special effects are created. The last few days of the festival are packed with fun. Beyond is circus completely re-invented in a way that reminds you how incredible the human body can be. An Iliad is one of the most compelling pieces of storytelling you could hope for in the theatre and Ursula Martinez has finally come to town to explain that very racy poster that you may have seen all over the city, with her show My Stories Your Emails.

For music lovers, Between Zero and One tonight and legendary indie band Yo La Tengo on Saturday are one-off concerts that are a must-see. Those of you who have spent time at the Festival Hub will know that Wellington is buzzing with visitors from all over the world and some of my favourite festival moments have been the conversations, laughter and dancing we've shared outside of the theatres.

A big thank you to Wellingtonians for making our artists so welcome - they love the food, they love the people and they love our city (even in the rain). This coming together of people is such an important part of what makes the festival special and you all play a part in it. I hope this last week puts some more smiles on your faces and reminds you what an extraordinary event this is.

- Shelagh Magadza is artistic director of the New Zealand Festival.

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- The Dominion Post

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