Here we are 21 years on and offering our communities another amazingly diverse line-up of writing, ideas, debate, performance and art. At the end of last year, after celebrating two decades ‘holding the literary line’ in West Auckland, we debated long and hard about what Going West meant and what the future held for the festival. Significantly, 2015 also marked the retirement of the inimitable Murray Gray, festival founder and programme director. Encouragingly, we discovered there’s a lot of love and commitment for Going West – from writers, readers, our community partners, elected representatives and those who pull it all together behind the scenes. In its 20-year life Going West has become an institution, a significant fixture in the cultural life of West Auckland. With this in mind, we knew that the show simply must go on.
We couldn’t create this month of celebration without support from so many generous funding bodies, local businesses, Auckland Council, the Waitakere Ranges Local Board and the tireless Going West team that scheme, deliberate, plan, organise and fundraise. Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, Engari, he toa takitini – Success is not the work of one, but the work of many.
On behalf of the Going West Trust we’re excited about what’s on offer this year, and we encourage you and your whanau to come along, get involved and spread the good word.
Chairperson, Going West Trust
FROM THE EDGES
The Going West Trust acknowledges with gratitude the generous support of Sir Graeme Douglas over the many years of the festival and welcomes new supporters Ockham Residential, the St Lazarus Trust and the Norcross Falls Heritage Trust. Our thanks also to Sir Bob Harvey for his sterling efforts on behalf of the trust. If there is such a thing as a New Zealand culture, it is a shapeshifting, elusive thing. In its finest moments, it is a harmonious choir, disparate voices combining to create something beautiful. At its ugliest, one voice and story will try to drown out the others, creating something one dimensional and disconnected from those who have a different kind of voice.
As the culture of Aotearoa New Zealand has repeatedly been reborn and reshaped, it is our writers who have often been first to raise their voices, to bring new threads to the story. They have issued a challenge from the periphery, as voices from the edges, and challenged the centre. Cultural nationalists. Women. Maori and Pacific writers. The full rainbow of sexual identities. All have told their stories, reshaped our cultural narrative, and been heard.
It is disquieting, then, to live in a cultural moment where voices are being silenced. When an author cannot comment freely on politics. When scientists cannot express their expert opinions. When journalists are kept from speaking truth to power. When voices that marginalise anyone challenging the centre can be heard more loudly. We have a thriving, diverse and creative culture – but it is battling with the homogeneous voices that want to only hear one ‘middle New Zealand’ story.
That is why Going West matters. We are a platform for telling stories. A stage where the voices from the edges can challenge the centre. And we celebrate together, with laughter, with tears, with astonishment, with anger, with pride.
This year’s Going West Books & Writers Festival is woven from many voices and many stories. Our writers are diverse and different, but they share one common thread. Their voices, when raised, pull them closer to the centre and weave us all a richer and more beautiful culture.
Listen, learn, share and enjoy.
Mark Easterbrook and Nicola Strawbridge
Programme Co-directors, Going West Books & Writers Weekend