It was “Kia Ora” to Aotearoa over the March long weekend. We both travelled to Wellington, New Zealand representing the First Nations Australian Writers Network (FNAWN), at the Ora Nui Special Edition launch, during Writers Week of the New Zealand Festival.
The second edition of New Zealand’s Maori literary journal Ora Nui was collaboration between Ora Nui and the FNAWN. The journal showcased a range of poetry, prose and short fiction from the Indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. The Co-editors were Anton Blank, Ora Nui and Kerry Reed-Gilbert, Chairperson FNAWN.
We both met up with Tony Birch from Melbourne and some of the Maori writers also included in the journal: Cath Dunsford, Kani Te Manukura, and Anton Blank.
The launch was held on Saturday 8 March with about 40 people attending the session which was good, given the 10.45am start. A few nerves appeared beforehand which turned into excitement. It was great to be on stage and hear readings from the best seats in the house – on stage! We read some of our work and launched the special edition. The audience and festival organisers were moved by the readings and enjoyed this along with the Question and Answer session that followed and the book signing.
After that we were free to attend other events and explore the lovely city of Wellington. The weather was beautiful and added to the international atmosphere of the Festival. Other events held included Tony Birch’s session Nothing is Written in Stone, and events with international writers.
A Powhiri (welcome ceremony) was held on Monday and this was lovely to witness and be included in the experience.
Overall, it was an honour to represent FNAWN. Thanks go to the Festival organisers and volunteers for their assistance and warm hospitality. It was a pleasure to be a part of the Writers Week.