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Writers’ Festival Experiences

It was a crisp Thursday morning, and excitement was in the air. The reason? That day marked the 2018 Writers’ Festival! We all arrived in the school hall at 8:20AM, and anticipation was mixed with the curiosity of what this incredible day would have to offer.
Around 9 o’clock we all made our way to the two buses that would take us to Aotea Center in Auckland City. We all split into two groups, with Mrs Ball and Mr Web on one, and Ms Westaway and Mrs Fraser on the other.
After a noisy ride (Hey, what can I say? We were all buzzing with enthusiasm), we all packed out into the cool air of the city.
And then, we were inside. It was astounding. There were gorgeous sculptures balancing from the ceiling, students everywhere, and the best part…they were selling books! When you walked in, right in front of you were stands stacked with books, and some people had already started to see which ones they liked best. It was wonderful, the hum of chatter and the bustle of people, the day had only just begun and we were already having a blast!

Rutherford was seated up in the highest balcony of the auditorium, so after excited babble with friends we all made our way up some red-carpet stairs and into the auditorium.
There were red plushy chairs all around the room, and when we looked down we could see the stage. There were chairs and a coffee table in the middle of the stage for interviews, bright green plants, and a lectern on the right. From above we could see students from all over Auckland walking inside and taking their seats. The ninety-one Rutherford students who came were all drinking in the sights and sounds. Then, the lights dimmed, and everything became quiet.

After being introduced, Professor Selina Tusitala Marsh walked on stage, and we found out she was the Poet Laureate of New Zealand. She talked of her Pasifika heritage and how local artist Jacob Scott carved her Laureate tokotoko, a traditional and special Māori carved ceremonial walking stick.

After a fifteen minute break, we had the second session of the day. This speaker’s name was Alex Wheatle, and he talked to us about his Jamaican heritage, childhood and rough teenage years, all the while reading us small sections of his books like, ‘Crongton Knights,’ and ‘Straight Outta Crongton.’ With his great sense of humour, he lead us through his journey of growing up in a children’s home to DJ-ing in his teenage years, and by the time lunchtime came we were all laughing!

When the third session rolled around, we were all a bit quieter. The day had been filled with excitement, and so we were getting tired. When A.S. King came onto the stage, however, laughter once again rang throughout the auditorium. Her message to us was beautiful – “We’re always asking ‘Who are we?’ because we’re always changing. What we should ask is ‘What are we hiding from?’” By the end of the third session, our spirits were high and we all tracked down the stairs to the last lecture of the day.

Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock was wonderfully spoken, telling us all about her life in Alaska, talking about her wonderful book ‘The Smell of People’s Houses,’ and sharing with us the beautiful descriptions written in her novel.

It was a warm Thursday afternoon, and tired happiness was in the air. The reason? The 2018 Writers’ Festival had been filled with excitement and story, and as we all loaded onto the bus, there was one thing we could all agree on…that was the best Writers Festival yet!

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