[As published in September/October BayBuzz magazine.]

Alongside the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival sits the Hawke’s Bay Readers & Writers Festival. As ever, this year HBRW offers a line-up that promises to surprise and delight, educate and inform.

Here are some expected highlights, which sit amidst a strong programme of 11 events over one weekend (October 27-29).

Friday, October 27, 8pm at the Havelock North Function Centre

Dr Emma Espiner (Ngāti Tukorehe, Ngāti Porou) retrained as a medical doctor from 2015 (just in time for you-know-what), having built a career as a writer, broadcaster and commentator. Here she talks with Ockham NZ Book Award Winner Noelle McCarthy about her candid and thoughtful memoir, There’s a Cure for This. The pairing of these two writers is particularly deft, given Noelle’s stunning 2022 memoir, Grand: Becoming my mother’s daughter.

Saturday, October 28, 2pm at the Havelock North Function Centre

Big moment for fans of RNZ’s charming Critter of the Week programme! Jesse Mulligan chats to Forest & Bird CEO Nicola Toki in the flesh, about developing a love for and engaging with our natural environment at any age.

Saturday, October 28, 4pm at Flaxmere Library

If you’re interested in the up-and-comers of the Aotearoa literary scene, this is one discussion worth getting to. The stellar line-up consists of Josie Shapiro (winner of the inaugural Allen and Unwin Commercial Fiction Prize for her debut novel Everything is Beautiful and Everything Hurts), Nafanua Kersel (Faleālupo, Malaelā, Mosula, Satufia, Tuaefu, winner the 2022 Biggs Family Prize in Poetry), Airana Ngarewa (Ngāti Ruanui, the big winner in the 2022 Ronald Hugh Morrieson awards) and Whiti Hereaka (Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa, Tūhourangi, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Tumatawera, Tainui and Pākehā, 2022 winner of the Jann Medlicott Acorn Award for Fiction at the Ockham NZ Book Awards).

Entry is by koha, but you must reserve seats.

Sunday, October 29, 2pm at the Havelock North Function Centre

Catherine Chidgey’s novel The Axeman’s Carnival is narrated by a magpie. Poet and author Marty Smith adores and has cared for two special baby magpies in recent years. The prospect of a conversation between the two of them has that perfect mix of inevitability and bird-like mystery.

(Also, Hawk-eyed Instagram watchers may have spotted Sarah Jessica Parker’s snap of Catherine’s latest book, Pet on her stories … She’s made it!)

To book tickets and for information on all HBRW events, see hbaf.co.nz 


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