Auckland Writers Festival breaks record

Children at Welcome Captain Underpants writer Dav Pilkey session.
Auckland Writers Festival

Children at Welcome Captain Underpants writer Dav Pilkey session.

The annual Auckland Writers Festival has broken all records for ticket sales and attendance in its fifteenth year.

For five days last week people flocked to see more than 150 novelists, playwrights, song writers, scientists, historians, children's writers, critics, editors, illustrators and poets from New Zealand and around the world.

Auckland Writers Festival director Anne O'Brien said it showed New Zealand's literary culture was healthy.

More than 60,000 seats were filled and ticket sales were up about 20 per cent.

"More people came to more sessions and there were thousands of new faces. 

"The laughter, energy, ideas, conversations, tears and joy from the audience and the writers has been remarkable."

O'Brien said people travelled from as far away as the United States and Australia to see contemporary Japanese writer Haruki Murakami's only Southern Hemisphere festival appearance.

One audience member said Murakami's session was 'life changing' and another said it was 'unrivalled in its inspiration', she said.

Children were excited to see British author and comedian David Walliams' and Dav Pilkey – better known as Captain Underpants  – perform.

Following the performances children queued for more than two hours to get their books signed, O'Brien said.

Ad Feedback

Scottish actor, playwright, cabaret artist and writer Alan Cumming put on a party to a full house of more than 2200 people, she said.

Writer of the next James Bond film Anthony Horowitz told kids to do something illegal, so long as they did not get caught.

Sir Peter Williams QC shared his life's work as a lawyer in a funny and enlightening session which ended with a standing ovation, O'Brien said.

There were sessions with newcomers Kim Thuy's, Amy Bloom and Emily St. John Mandel.

The list of standout performances went on, she said.

Other speakers included a scientist, a former human rights lawyer, a Scottish memoirist and former Australian rugby union player.

O'Brien said thousands of students poured into the Aotea Centre for inspiring sessions with writers from Britain, the US, Australia and New Zealand. 

Auckland Writers Festival associate director Eleanor Congreve said the schools programme increased in popularity each year.

"Next year we hope to expand the programme, offering even more students an opportunity to see their literary heroes on stage."

A collection of writers were also presented with awards recognising their literary work.

Auckland Writers Festival 2015 Awards:

Auckland Writers Festival Honoured New Zealand Writer: C.K. Stead 

Nigel Cox Award: Stephanie de Montalk and Steve Braunias 

Sarah Broom Poetry Prize: Diana Bridge

Royal Society of NZ Science Prize: Atholl Anderson and Aroha Harris for their work Tangata Whenua.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Ad Feedback