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17 June 2024

Letters read live in support of historic writer’s cottage

The lost art of letter writing and reading will be reignited at Live Letters, a special fundraising event on July 15.

Raise the Roof for Randell Cottage: Live Letters brings together an eclectic group of literary luminaries to read aloud poignant, powerful, and amusing letters from the past.

Based on a similar concept popular in the UK, Wellington’s first Letters Live is a benefit concert in aid of beloved historic Thorndon writer’s residence Randell Cottage, which is in need of a new roof.

The letter-reading line-up of 12 will include writers who have held residencies at the cottage alongside current bestselling novelists Emily Perkins and Ngahuia Te Awekōtuku, historian Vincent O’Malley, foreign correspondent Anna Fifield, and Dan Henry, ‘the voice of Country Calendar’.

Berlin-based poet and current Randell Cottage resident Hinemoana Baker will also join the line-up, chaired by Supreme Court Judge Justice Sir Stephen Kos.

The letters themselves will be kept a surprise until the evening, but the selection is guaranteed to prove moving and interesting, says Friends of the Randell Cottage Association Dame Fiona Kidman.

“We’re thrilled to bring this new event to Wellington and support the maintenance of Randell Cottage at the same time,“ she says. “The house is an important part of the literary landscape and the residency has made a meaningful difference in the lives and careers of many of our writers.

“We want to raise the roof for Randell Cottage while at the same time provide a memorable evening of letters read aloud, bringing to life forgotten stories in our recent and distant past. We look forward to seeing you there.”

Raise the Roof for Randell Cottage: Live Letters

Monday, July 15
Doors open at 7pm, 7.30pm start
National Library Auditorium (Aitken St entrance)
70 Molesworth St, Wellington

Tickets on sale now:
$45 for the public, and $40 for the Friends of the Randell Cottage Association.

To book, please email

Built in 1868, historic Randell Cottage has been a writers’ residency for New Zealand and French writers since 2001, when it was gifted to a Trust by the first owners’ descendants.

The Randell Cottage Writers Trust is supported by CNZ, the Arts Foundation, and Wellington City Council. It works in close partnership with the Embassy of France. Two writers’ residencies are offered annually at the Randell Cottage: one is available to New Zealand writers and the other to French nationals.

Founding trustees include Dame Fiona Kidman and Vincent O’Sullivan, and visiting writers have included award-winning novelist, poets, and academics including Whiti Hereaka, Kirsty Gunn, Peter Wells, Witi Ihimaera and Renée, among many others.