UC partners Word Fest 2021 full of Canterbury scholars and authors

09 July 2021

The University of Canterbury is a proud principal partner of the WORD Christchurch Festival 2021, which is set to spring forth with stories, histories, ideas, poetry and song, 25-29 August.

  • Word 2021

With over 80 events, the popular (now annual) festival features many University of Canterbury scholars and writers, featuring alongside local and international literary stars appearing in person and in innovative, virtual ways.

Associate Professor Te Maire Tau is the Director of the University of Canterbury Kā Waimaero | Ngāi Tahu Research Centre, which is a Word Festival partner. Dr Tau (Ngāi Tahu) is Ūpoko (head) of Ngāi Tūāhuriri. He’s featuring in two events at Word 2021: Kā Wai O Tahu: Ngāi Tahu’s Legal Action Over Water and War And Peace discussing the life of Te Rauparaha with University of Canterbury BA(Hons) graduate Ross Calman (Ngāti Toa, Ngāi Tahu), and with taonga puoro accompaniment from musician Ariana Tikao (Kāi Tahu).

Also in two events, University of Canterbury Political Science graduate Abbas Nazari will tell his story in After the Tampa – from the Taliban’s brutal rule in Afghanistan, and his family’s desperate search for safety, to the University of Canterbury and on to Georgetown University in Washington DC, where he is a Fulbright Scholar. Nazari was only seven when he became one of 438 Afghan refugees at the centre of an international incident when the Norwegian freighter MV Tampa rescued them from a distressed fishing vessel off the Australian coast. He is joined by Helen Clark, New Zealand’s Prime Minister at the time, who will discuss the political circumstances around the incident, and whether anything has changed. Journalist Mike McRoberts will chair the session.

In conversation with Professor Bronwyn Hayward, former Prime Minister Helen Clark discusses the findings of the Covid-19 report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, published in May, and the book Climate Aotearoa and what needs to happen to avert future catastrophe for the planet and its occupants, in The Big Issues.

Head of Aotahi: School of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Canterbury, Sacha McMeeking (Ngāi Tahu) will be discussing how we prepare the next generations for the future, with Emily Writes and Brannavan Gnanalingam, her fellow contributors to the book, Parenting in the Anthropocene.

Professor Jeanette King from the Aotahi: School of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Canterbury, will discuss Being Pākehā with two leading Pākehā thinkers, Dame Claudia Orange and Alison Jones. They will share personal stories and political insights with Professor King from lives spent working at the intersection between two worlds.

Live at the Faraway Near, join two Kurdish writers who harnessed language as a vehicle for freedom, and literature as a weapon against oppression. Ava Homa speaks with New Zealand’s own great Kurdish writer-in-exile, Behrouz Boochani, who is an adjunct senior fellow of the Ngāi Tahu Research Centre and 2021 writer-in-residence at the University of Canterbury.

In Wit World, Professor Paul Millar will speak with novelist Stephanie Johnson as well as UC Emeritus Professor Patrick Evans about his satirical novel on university life Bluffworld. Head of the School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury Aaron Kreisler will discuss the art life with fellow 1990s art-school survivor, Megan Dunn, author of Things I Learned At Art School. And in Cut To The Bone, Dr Erin Harrington, senior lecturer in English and Cultural Studies, will talk to writers Airini Beautrais and Tracey Slaughter about their evocative short stories.

Author Madi Williams (Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Koata) is a lecturer in Aotahi: School of Māori & Indigenous Studies at the University of Canterbury, where she researches the boundaries of history and the inclusion of Indigenous and non-Western perspectives in Aotearoa New Zealand and South Pacific histories. She features in A Cabinet of Curiosities: Tiny Lectures On The Weird And Wonderful, with University of Canterbury honorary doctorate honouree Gavin Bishop, and other writers exploring their innermost obsessions, hosted by the University’s Naomi van den Broek.

In the WORD Inspiring Writers Secondary Schools Day hosted by the University of Canterbury on its Ilam campus, Abbas Nazari is returning to his alma mater as one of the exciting writers making waves, along with: award-winning poets Tayi Tibble, Glenn Colquhoun and RikTheMost; Ngāi Tahu writer, activist and disability advocate Kera Sherwood-O’Regan; University of Canterbury astrophysicist Dr Michele Bannister; and emerging writer, current first-year University of Canterbury student E Wen Wong (in her second WORD festival appearance).

  • Teachers, contact schools@wordchristchurch.co.nz for session details and to secure a spot for your school group.

Many other UC scholars, writers and alumni are appearing in the 2021 WORD festival including Ngāi Tahu leader Adjunct Professor Tā Tipene O’Regan, Karen Healey, Kim Hill, Juanita Hepi (Kāi Tahu, Ngāti Mutunga, Ngāi Tukairangi), Jo Malcolm, Tusiata Avia, Victor Rodger, Vana Manasiadis, and many more.