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Seeing themselves in my stories, children realised that they too had similar stories, to share orally or to write. They realised that they are writers, should they wish to be.
– Mona Williams


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."

Our annual Pānui is usually held in November of each year. 

Renée and whānau at the 2021 Pānui


Mona Williams: Tell us a story from your own mouth

'Do you know you are all storytellers?' is a remark that prompts disbelief. Some are story writers. Every nation tells stories. From the beginning of time, humans have attempted to give structure and coherence to our jumbled life experiences by telling stories. 

Mona Williams' Pānui, Tell us a story out of your own mouth, traces Mona's own life as a storyteller, writer and reader. It is a deeply personal and passionate conversation about growing up in Guyana, exploring identity through storytelling, and the magic that occurs when children are taught that they, too, are storytellers. 

Mona's Pānui was delivered to a full auditorium and given a standing ovation on November 8, 6pm at the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

Audio and video files of Mona's Pānui are forthcoming.


Dame Fiona Kidman: The Heart of the Matter

Marking the 50th birthday of the organisation, Dame Fiona Kidman’s Pānui, The heart of the matter, spans her own personal reading journey to her job as founding secretary of the then New Zealand Book Council, a career as a celebrated author, and her lifelong love of the written word.

The heart of the matter will take the listener on a journey from Dame Fiona’s childhood, where she learned to read in a Kawakawa hospital, to her instrumental and often hilarious accounts of early Book Council days, where she helped set up the programmes, like Writers in Schools, that continue to make their mark on the literary landscape of this country.

The heart of the matter is a celebration, a history lesson, and most of all, a passionate statement for the importance of reading and how it can transform our lives.

Dame Fiona Kidman is a fiction writer and poet whose first novel A Breed of Women was published in 1979. Since then she has published a wide range of novels, short story collections, poetry and memoir, often exploring women’s lives and themes of social justice.

In 1988 she was made an Officer, Order of the British Empire for services to literature, followed by a Dame Companion New Zealand Order of Merit for services to literature in 1998.

The 2022 Pānui was held at the National Library auditorium on November 9. Read NZ Te Pou Muramura is grateful for the generous financial support of Luke Pierson in delivering this Pānui.


Renée: 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.


Ben Brown: If Nobody Listens Then No One Will Know

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.


Lani Wendt Young: Stories from the Wild: Reading and Writing in the Digital Age

"... 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.


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.

2017 and prior

2017 / Short stories: yay or neigh?​​​​

Owen Marshall

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?

Delivered at the Wellington Club on 2 November 2017.

Listen to Owen's Pānui on RNZ. 

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

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.

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

Listen to Selina's Pānui on RNZ.

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?

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.

We run campaigns to encourage New Zealanders to read, research our reading habits and barriers to reading, and advocate for the importance of reading.

  • 44K+
    School students reached
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  • 44K+
    School students reached
  • 13
    Regions throughout Aotearoa New Zealand
  • 90
    Writers engaged

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