Featherston Booktown Karukatea Festival 2023 celebrates it's 8th year!

Wednesday 29 March 2023

Featherston Booktown Karukatea Festival 2023 Has Something For Everyone In Its 8th Year

“We have a cultural smorgasbord on offer at this year’s Festival. Our audience will definitely be spoilt for choice,” says Peter Biggs, Chair of the Featherston Booktown Trust. “I can’t wait to see the streets of Featherston alive and humming with book lovers from all walks of life.”

The popular Featherston Booktown Karukatea Festival returns for its eighth year of fantastic and diverse literary events over the weekend of 12 - 14 May in the beautiful Wairarapa. The annual Festival celebrates all things bookish, with dozens of presentations and workshops about writing, reading, selling, illustrating, printing, making and publishing. The creative Festival – which sets the South Wairarapa and the wider region buzzing – attracted over 8,000 people in 2022 and is set to top that this year.

With a line-up of more than 101 presenters and 51 events, the Festival has something for everyone including tributes to Katherine Mansfield, Te Ao Māori, shipwrecks, poetry, activism, Queer art, craft beer, spooky late-night stories and Pasifika tales. There are also 13 events devoted to the craft of the book and 10 free events for tamariki, which follows on from the Young Readers Programme in schools from 10 - 12 May. Booksellers remain at the heart of the Festival, with 30 attending this year.

The Festival kicks off on Friday 12 May with the legendary Fish’n’Chip supper featuring guest speaker, broadcaster and author Guyon Espiner who will join us for two other events over the weekend. Late Night Lit sees nimble writers entertain the audience with flash fiction inspired by the words of one of our great story writers: Katherine Mansfield, who died 100 years ago this year.  For those looking for some late-night thrills, Campfire Tales returns to chill your bones with four original horror stories written by Aotearoa New Zealand authors.

The rest of the weekend is a stacked bookshelf of events featuring two events in te reo Māori with simultaneous interpretations in English; activism with Māori artist Tāme Iti; examining the evolution of the book in the digital world; much loved Hairy Maclary creator Lynley Dodd; a look at Sci-fi and fantasy novels in Aotearoa New Zealand and a sensitive conversation on the impact of Parihaka on both Māori and Pākehā.

Saturday night presents a provocative and entertaining lineup with Pasifika Power featuring some of the most powerful voices in our literary scene followed up with filmmaker Gaylene Preston in conversation with Featherston writer Noelle McCarthy. Saturday’s Late Night Lit showcases the unique poetry of Sam Duckor-Jones (who also has a pop-up version of his colourful Gloria installation in the Anzac Hall), Poet Laureate Chris Tse and Rebecca Hawkes, who is back by popular demand, and two Te Aro Pā poets, Rachel Buchanan and Debbie Broughton.

Sunday hums along to a vibrant beat when Nick Bollinger talks the art of writing music with Shayne P Carter (Straitjacket Fits / Dimmer) and Warren Maxwell (Trinity Roots). Politics gets a look in with former minister Chris Finlayson. Then, quench your thirst with Emerson Breweries’ Richard Emerson and his biographer Michael Donaldson.

Celebrating Queer Stories examines the creativity and contribution of our LGBTQIA+ writers and artists. Always sold-out Mrs Blackwell’s Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea brings broadcaster and author, Stacey Morrison, Hinemoa Elder and Emma Espiner together for an unfiltered and open conversation about health and wellness, whānau, relationships and the guiding force of ancestral knowledge.

“Diversity and inclusivity is the standout theme to this year’s festival and the line up of writing talent really reflects that,” says Peter Biggs. “There truly is something for everyone. As the world changes and evolves, so does the role of writing in our lives and the programme shines a light on those who seek to make a difference with the written word. Once again, our tamariki are well catered for with a host of participatory events, for they are the future of the Festival and Aotearoa New Zealand. And, thanks to the generous funding from the South Wairarapa District Council, REAP Wairarapa and ReadNZ Te Pou Muramura, all events for tamariki are free.”

The Young Readers Programme in schools starts on 10-12 May and involves 29 events at 20 schools and venues, 1,500 students Wairarapa wide and 28 presenters. The extremely popular Book Voucher scheme is back, in which 2,500 book vouchers will be given to local South Wairarapa primary school-aged kids thanks to donations made by the Friends of Featherston Booktown.

Liz Mellish (Te Ātiawa, Taranaki, Ngāti Ruanui), the Deputy Chair of Featherston Booktown Trust says, “I am particularly excited to see so many Māori writers in the programme this year, which was developed through consultation with our mana whenua. From welcoming Tāme Iti to Featherston for his first Featherston Booktown appearance; the fully te reo events and the three fabulous wāhine at Mrs Blackwell's Mother's Day Afternoon Tea event, our rich culture is celebrated and deeply embedded in this programme.”

The Featherston Booktown Karukatea Festival is made possible thanks to the continued support of our funders and supporters including Creative New Zealand, The Lion Foundation, Trust House Foundation and the South Wairarapa District Council.

The Featherston Booktown Karukatea 2023 Festival runs from 12 - 14 May.

Ticket Link:https://www.eventfinda.co.nz/tickets/new-zealand/tour/2022/featherston-booktown-karukatea-festival-2022