Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Pānui

The Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Pānui (formerly the Book Council Lecture) is a prominent part of the literary landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand. It provides an opportunity for one of our country’s leading writers to discuss an aspect of literature close to their heart.

This event seeks to enlighten – and also to provoke. As James K. Baxter said: “It is reasonable and necessary that… every poet should be a prophet."

2021 / If you don’t get your head out of a book, my girl, you’ll end up on Queer Street

The life-changing power of reading and literature is explored in 2021's compelling Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Pānui.

Ōtaki playwright Renée (Ngāti Kahungunu) will deliver If you don’t get your head out of a book, my girl, you’ll end up on Queer Street.

Born in 1929, Renée identifies as a ‘lesbian feminist with socialist working-class ideals.’ As a leading dramatist, poet and fiction writer, most of her writing is a direct expression of those convictions.

She is best known for her trilogy of plays, Wednesday to Come (1985), Pass it On (1986) and Jeannie Once (1991), which follow four generations of working-class New Zealand women.

In her Pānui, If you don’t get your head out of a book, my girl, you’ll end up on Queer Street, Renée will reflect on the books that shaped her, proving the transformational powers of reading. Books led Renée to discovering ‘Queer Street,’ a scene filled with community, education and action:

‘On Queer Street, we had to struggle and march and smile and shout, we had to sit and talk and argue, we had to read and tell our stories, we had to write a new ending and we had to heal ourselves.’

In 2017, Renée received the Playmarket Award for significant contribution to New Zealand theatre, and in 2018 she was awarded the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement.

Join us at National Library in Wellington on November 10 at 6 pm (alert levels allowing) to hear this remarkable address. Book your seat here.

Please note: tickets for this limited-seating event are now booked out. Please email us to join a waiting list:

We will live-stream the Nov 10 event on our Facebook page. Make sure you're following us there to receive a reminder notification.

More information here.

Download If you don't get your head out of a book, my girl, you'll end up on Queer Street as a PDF

Watch the livestream on our YouTube channel

2020 / If Nobody Listens Then No One Will Know

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Ben Brown

The weight of words and the power of reading unheard voices is explored in our 2020 Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Pānui (formerly the Book Council Lecture). If Nobody Listens Then No One Will Know affirms the vital importance of writing, reading and knowing each other through our stories.

Lyttelton poet Ben Brown (Ngāti Māhuta, Ngāti Koroki, Ngāti Pāoa) delivered our 2020 address, If Nobody Listens Then No One Will Know, exploring the complex concept of youth justice in Aotearoa.

In early 2020, Brown taught a writing workshop at Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo, the Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice Residence facility at Rolleston near Christchurch.

The workshop was part of Writers in Youth Justice, one of our Writers in Communities programmes that take place across the country in different iterations.

This workshop resulted in an anthology of poetry by the YPs (Young People) who took part titled How the F** Did I Get Here, edited by Brown.

Copies of the anthology have been published for youth justice residents and Oranga Tamariki staff, and will soon be available to the public for purchase.

The 2020 Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Pānui was held at the National Library auditorium on November 18.

Download If Nobody Listens, Then No One Will Know as a PDF

Listen to the RNZ recording of the event

2019 / Stories from the Wild: Reading and Writing in the Digital Age

Lani Wendt Young

"... ask yourself, who is missing from the conversation? Who should be here, and isn't? Whose voice should be leading this discussion?"

Stories from the Wild: Reading and Writing in the Digital Age is a brave and personal charting of the current realities and possible futures of publishing, reading and writing. In her lecture, Lani addresses representation in literature, gatekeeping in the publishing industry and how emerging digital technologies are disrupting traditional publishing and offering new opportunities for both readers and writers, and, as always, she explores these topics with her distinctive honesty, humour and passion.

Read Stories from the Wild:

PDF version – For reading in your browser or on your PC.

Mobi Version – For reading on your Kindle. To access, right click, select SAVE AS, and then send that file to your Kindle in the usual way.

Epub Version – For reading on your non-Kindle e-reader.

Stories from the Wild: Reading and Writing in the Digital Age was delivered at Wellington High School on August 28, 2019.

Listen to Lani’s lecture on Radio NZ

2018 / ​​The Power of Story

Joy Cowley

The Power of Story

In her warm and engaging talk The Power of Story, Joy draws on a lifetime’s experience of inspiring children to read.

Recalling her own childhood reading journey, and that of her four children, she describes the circumstances that led her to begin crafting stories for a young audience.

Entwining practical advice on how to spark a love for reading with her thoughts on how the power of story can inspire lifelong learning and critical thinking, Joy speaks to parents, educators and avid readers alike.

Read The Power of Story

Listen to the recording

Delivered at Te Marae, Te Papa on October 4, 2018.

Owen Marshall

Short stories: yay or neigh?

New Zealand’s foremost short story writer Owen Marshall examines and challenges perceptions around short form literature in his 2017 New Zealand Book Council Lecture. Taking us from attempts to classify the nature of the short story to his personal favourites both past and present, Owen’s thought-provoking lecture will have you questioning: is the short story merely the work of lesser writers? Or at its best, a poetry of prose?

Read Owen's lecture.

Listen to Owen's lecture on Radio NZ

Delivered at the Wellington Club 2nd November 2017.

2016 / ​​Tala Tusi: The Teller is the Tale​​​​

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Selina Tusitala Marsh

The Sāmoan word tusitala means storyteller – but what about its inverse, tala tusi, where the teller is the tale?

Poet and academic Selina Tusitala Marsh powerfully explores the relationship between our stories, ourselves, and the fate of our literature if we ignore the wisdom offered by ‘tala tusi’ in her remarkable 2016 New Zealand Book Council Lecture.

Read Selina's lecture
Download the print friendly version
Listen to Selina's Lecture on Radio New Zealand.

Delivered at the National Library of New Zealand, Wellington in November 2016, and at the Dunedin Writers Festival May 2017.

2015 / Where is New Zealand Literature Heading?


Witi Ihimaera

What is New Zealand writing and what does its future look like? Witi Ihimaera explores some of the essential questions of our literary culture. His thoughtful and often humorous lecture inspires us to ask ourselves: where is New Zealand literature heading?

Read Witi's lecture

Delivered at the 2015 Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival.

2014 / On Craft: Paradox and Change


Eleanor Catton

Why do you have to go to Oz to discover there’s no place like Kansas? Why, if you love her, do you have to let her go? Why might you become your own worst enemy?

The 2013 Man Booker Prize winner, Eleanor Catton unpacks these plotted paradoxes to investigate how change happens in fiction, whether it is a change of state, a change of mind or a change of heart.

Delivered at the 2014 New Zealand Festival Writers Week.

Lectures in earlier years have been given by Louis Johnson, Lauris Edmond, Maurice Gee, Roger Hall, Ian Wedde, C.K. Stead, Helen Garner and Elizabeth Knox.