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‘Writer In Manukau Libraries’ Programme

23 February 2005

Manukau Launches Inaugural ‘Writer In Manukau Libraries’ Programme

The inaugural Writer in Manukau Libraries (WIML) programme will be launched at Botany Library by Sir Barry Curtis, Mayor of Manukau this Saturday 26 February at 1:30pm. A first for New Zealand, the new writer in residency project is an exciting, innovative pilot programme for would-be and emerging writers to be coached by an established, successful author in an accessible, friendly environment.

Sir Barry Curtis is pleased Council is supporting such a prestigious literary programme and remarked on the high amount of interest it generated, with 75 applications for the one-on-one coaching sessions, “As Mayor of Manukau, I’m delighted that once again Manukau is leading the way in creative enterprise and community development.”

More traditional ‘Writer in Residency’ projects place the author in isolated locations or within an academic environment, where the author can concentrate on his/her own work. WIML brings the author to the people in order to mentor newer writers on a one-on-one basis. The project will operate from four selected libraries in Manukau – Botany, Mangere East, Manurewa and Tupu-Dawson Youth Library – and will also include readings and workshops.

Renowned New Zealand author, Graeme Lay, has been chosen as the mentor and coach for WIML. Fifty budding and emerging writers will be mentored by Lay in the three months following the launch. These writers have wide ranging backgrounds, ages and abilities, write in different genres, but they have two factors in common – they all want to write more and they all live in the Counties Manukau area.

Sir Barry Curtis says, “We are thrilled that a writer of Graeme Lay’s stature has decided to work with us as we break new ground. At the official launch on Saturday 26 February, Lay will speak about his work as an author and, as he is also secretary of the Frank Sargeson Trust, he will discuss Sargeson’s vital mentoring role with emerging writers.”

Lay is a highly respected author, editor, literary reviewer, judge and panellist. He was a three times finalist for the New Zealand Travel Writer of the Year Award and two of his young adult novels were past finalists in the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards. His most recent publications (both 2004) are the young adult novel The Pearl of One Foot Island and a collection of short stories and travel pieces entitled The Miss Tutti Frutti Contest – Travel Tales of the South Pacific. He was first published in the late 1970’s and began to write travel stories in the 1980's, which featured the pacific islands and their peoples. His non-fiction work has been published in Metro, North & South, the Listener, Urbis and Canvas. He has been a fulltime writer, manuscript assessor and editor since 1997.

WIML is a remarkable coup for a new writers’ group that only started its first ‘chapter’ in late 2003. Just over a year ago, the NZSA members who live in the Counties Manukau area, started monthly meetings in Manukau to hear a variety of guest speakers talk, discuss writing, hold workshops and promote writing and writers in the area.

Having formally established the NZSA Manukau Counties Writers’ Group, the members wanted to attract new writers into the group. They noted the success of the Regina Public Library programme in Canada, which partnered an established author with emerging writers, and this inspired the group to pilot this programme in the Manukau City library network.

The launch event has been as popular as the WIML programme itself. The free tickets to the event, which is a feature of the AK05 Auckland Arts Fringe Festival, were snapped up well ahead of the launch.

The WIML programme is managed by the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) Manukau Counties Writers’ Group, supported by Manukau Libraries and a Creative Communities Manukau grant.

The NZSA Manukau Counties Writers Group meets on the first Thursday of every month at Nathan Homestead, Hill Road, Manurewa, Manukau City


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