WORD festival the most successful yet

19:50, Aug 31 2014
Nicky Hager
REVELATIONS: Author Nicky Hager launched his latest book, Dirty Politics, in Wellington.

Sold-out shows and thousands of attendees have made this year's Christchurch writers festival one of the most successful yet, its organiser says.

The four-day biennial WORD Christchurch Writers & Readers Festival ended yesterday after about 5000 people attended 57 ticketed events led by 120 speakers from New Zealand and across the world.

Festival executive director Marianne Hargreaves said 17 shows were sold out and people had to be turned away at the door of some events.

"Hopefully people will understand they have to buy tickets in advance."

One of the most popular events was at the Cardboard Cathedral where seven writers including Eleanor Catton, shared their works.

Hargreaves said many events would have been attended by more people, but they were restricted by the size of the venues.

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Another sold out event was the Secrets, Spies and Free Speech public discussion featuring Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager, Guardian journalist Luke Harding and Australian journalist Richard King.

They discussed the freedom of speech in Western democracies, but the audience was especially captivated by Hager talking about his new book, which has made headlines since its release more than two weeks ago.

Dirty Politics includes information from emails hacked from blogger Cameron Slater and makes revelations about several powerful politicians and parties.

At the festival, Hager described tracking down the hacker who attacked Slater's IT system and spending weeks convincing him to share his information.

Hargreaves said Hager had been booked for the festival well before she knew he had a book coming out.

The festival has been going since 1996. It was cancelled in 2010 after it was due to start four days after the September 4 earthquake.

It was held again in 2012 but limited venues meant it had just 32 events.

Hargreaves said her aim for this year's festival was to return it to pre-quake levels and that had been well and truly achieved.

The Press