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Contributed by Going West Festival 

The Going West Books and Writers Festival celebrates 20 years with a line-up of outstanding home-grown authors, playwrights and songwriters in a packed programme of events this September.GO West books

Featuring enthralling new non-fiction by David Slack, Roger Horrocks, and Geoff Chapple; new novels from Greg McGee, Stephanie Johnson and Anna Smaill and poetry by Harry Ricketts and Leilani Tamu, audiences will also be treated to an appearance from Rachel Barrowman talking about her just-published biography on Maurice Gee and biographer Lucy Treep offers a tantalising insight into the life of Maurice Shadbolt.

Festival founder and director Murray Gray says this year’s writers will become part of the considerable legacy of conversations built up over two decades.

Going West Festival audiences have been treated over the years to extraordinary events featuring such literary luminaries as Allen Curnow, Michael King, Nigel Cox, Ian Wedde, Anne Salmond, Lauris Edmond, Maurice Gee and Maurice Shadbolt.


The festival is named after its Patron, Maurice Gee’s novel Going West. “I’ve been to many writing festivals but none as relaxed and friendly as the Going West…Long may it continue,” says Gee.

Landmark Announcements

Gray adds that this year’s festival sees some landmark announcements.

“I am delighted to say the Going West Trust,  in association with the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, will be offering a new creative residency from 2017, in Maurice Shadbolt’s home of some 40 years, here in Titirangi.

“The house has plenty of material for writers to draw on. Shadbolt loved a party, and there were many in his home. He had a colourful personality and lived here through four marriages.  We are so pleased the Waitakere Ranges Local Board has entrusted us with the lease of this culturally valuable property,” says Gray.

The Festival also announces a partnership with Auckland’s  new home for Māori theatre, Te Pou who will be holding  a Koanga (Spring) Festival offering a range of performances, writing workshops and readings and culminating in a community Whānau Day of storytelling on Saturday 12 September at the theatre’s home 44A Portage Road, New Lynn.

Te Pou will present a development season of The Great American Scream by award-winning playwright Albert Belz in the Going West Festival from 17-19 September.

Going West Festival welcomes lauded theatre work, Sister Anzac, by Geoff Allen,  which runs from 3-6 September at Te Pou Theatre in New Lynn.

Stand-up poets have time to sharpen their acts before the Going West Poetry Slam takes place on 12 September. Directed by Doug Poole, this will be a fun, fast-paced evening featuring some of the country’s best known bards. Handsome cash prizes to be won.

Stephanie Johnson, who made her first festival appearance, with an early  novel at the first Going West Festival in 1996, will be the Sir Graeme Douglas Orator this year. This will be part of the festival weekend’s opening night celebrations on Friday 11 September.

The full Going West Books and Writers Festival programme will be online at from tomorrow. For tickets go to:

The Festival is grateful for support from the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, Creative New Zealand, The Trusts Community Foundation, Foundation North and the Douglas family Trust.