Literary news for Northerners – April 2019

  1. DID YOU KNOW WE HAVE A TONNE OF WRITERS GROUPS GOING ON??!!>Kaipwriters -Dargaville writing group that has been in action for around two years. Currently has 8-10 members. A lot of emphasis on poetry and children’s writing, but flash fiction and non-fiction are also shared. Contact Maureen Sudlow

    >Poets at ONEONESIX 116aBank St, Whangarei, third Thursday of the month from 5pm for poetry readings, comment, feedback and critique, all welcome contact

    >Russell Writer’s Workshop– Meets 1st Sunday each month, 2 pm at Russell Library, Contact: Peter, Ph: 09 403-8321.

    >Pen-Ultimate -Meets alternate Fridays, 10:00 am to 12:30. Contact: Derin Attwood at

  2. Book launch. Russell Museum is proud to launch Peter Ireland’s new book. The Weight Of The Captain’s Wrist, Peter Ireland History Paintings. Mr Ireland has moved onto the East Cape now but you can still get the book, containing 70 paintings, from the Russell Museum Shop. See
  3. Whangarei Libraries Flash Fiction Club: a group meets regularly, led by highly experienced flash editor/judge Martin Porter. Click through to Whangarei Libraries Flash Club information.   
  4. Poetry Group at the Whangarei Central Library – April 16
  5. National Flash Fiction Day Competition. Please enter – we have so much talent up north, we want to see more Tai Tokerauvians placed highly as last year. On National Flash Fiction Day, which is June 22 2019, there will be a workshop and reading at King’s Theatre in Kawakawa. Author Michael Botur will deliver the workshop, which will be about finding the message in a flash story
  6. Fast Fibres 6- Asixth collection of poetry is being put together to display the talents of Northland poets – submit your entry today. It will be launched in print and online on National Poetry Day, August 23, 2019. The Fast Fibres Poetry Collective invites poets with a strong connection to Northland to submit 3 poems, each preferably no longer than 20 lines, plus a two-line biographical statement. Deadline: June 14 Email:
  7. Homegrown Northland hip hop media company Low Budget Brotherhood is about to launch an ensemble music video showcasing musical wordsmiths spitting their finest rhymes. See
  8. Wild Side Publishing’s biggest update is they are publishing When the Crowd Stops Roaring by former All Black Neven MacEwan. Based in little old Ruawai, WSP are Northland’s biggest publisher of inspirational books and actively seeking submissions of inspirational memoirs and non-fiction. Check out Wild Side’s website.  
  9. Northland’s main literary festival, NorthWrite, is being put together. Stay tuned at for updates. 

10. NZSA local branch Northland Noteworthies, with thanks to Wendy Meggett for compiling this at

  • Justine Payen attended the San Francisco Writers Conference and won a picture book critique with Nikki Garcia, a New York editor for Little Brown.
  • Jac Jenkins had poems accepted by Geometry (“One Red Shoe Fallen”) and Room Magazine (“Emilie du Chatelet”), while “Hauraki” will be included in Nga Kupu Waikato
  • Lesley Marshall’s PEN article in NZ Author tells the story of journalist Nedim Turfent imprisoned in Turkey on trumped up charges.
  • Karen Phillips’ short story The Price has been accepted for an anthology with Cloud Ink Press.
  • Peter Pedrotti launched Black Sands and Toitoi at Mangawhai. 

State of the Pakeha Nation – ebook of essays by Whangarei authors

Check out this fascinating e-book of essays by Whangarei authors, State of the Pakeha Nation: Collected Waitangi Day Speeches and Essays 2006-2015

Its authors are members of Network Waitangi Whangarei, a group of church-affiliated treaty researchers with a deep interest in listening to Maori perspectives on the place of Pakeha in New Zealand.  

Read online or download the collection:


On Thursday 21 March 2019, the cringe-inducingly-named Race Relations Day* will be celebrated in Whangarei with a free public event featuring invited speakers, at Forum North’s Cafler Room at 7pm (*There is no scientific basis for race. There is only one ‘race’ of people, and all come from Africa. A more useful term is ethnicity.)

Speakers include Dr Ray Nairn who set up Kupu Taea, a group that has monitored news media for cultural bias for several years. He wrote the most recent Joan Cook Memorial Essay on the State of the Pākehā Nation for Network Waitangi Whangārei.




Write Club for Northland – Community Education Whangarei – Enrol Today – Registrations Closing

Registrations for the seven week fiction writing workshop with Community Education Whangarei are about to close. 

This course just needs another five people to run  – it’s half full. 

It’s ideal for people who are beginner to intermediate level writers. Whatsmore, you meet and bond with a supportive group so you feel less alone.

Please urgently register with Shona Hill at CEW at Kamo High School today or over the weekend if you’d like to jump in the class. $85. 



Wed 6-8pm, starts 27 Feb, 7 weeks $85
Behind every film, book, TV show, great
speech, news report and website lies fictional
storytelling, in which words are pulled from the
ordinary and turned into something extraordinary. Our tutor, Michael Botur, is a much published author of novels, short stories, poetry
and journalism. Every week you will be encouraged to produce a fresh piece of creative
writing and by the end of the course you can
publish with your fellow students – a book? A
website? We’ll discuss. Join this class and let
Michael introduce you to the world of fiction.
Course ID: A430
Tutor: Michael Botur


Shona Hill

ACE Co-ordinator | Community Education Whangarei 

 PO Box 4137, Kamo, 0141 |Wilkinson Ave, Kamo, Whangarei
P: 09 435 0889 |  W: | E:



Attn: Northland authors – writing competitions and calls for submission

Here are six good writing competitions and calls for submission all Northlanders should strive to succeed in.

Let’s get lots of Tai Tokerau talent in the mix. Why not share the draft of your work with a supportive Northland writer then smash out the competition.


Check out ‘Streccano’ by Bill Leonard of Whangarei


Bio supplied by the author…

“Bill Leonard was born in a log cabin in the wilds of Miami Beach, the son of a flying-saucer repairman and an attaché to the government of Bulimia. Disenchanted with the Evil Empire from a young, impressionable age, he set his sights on New Zealand as the result of David Lange’s stand against the Americans. In attempts at Permanent Residence , he got in on the 2nd try whilst the Immigration officer had gone to have a pee.
Literary history, such as it is:
Stickno Bill’s Guide to Complete Fulfilment (2008) paperback, staple-bound. Bill sold 35 copies of the humour book in 23 hours, door-to-door in Auckland, and a few at markets and expositions. Diamonds & Rats (2013) e-novel, no staples. Distributed through meBooks and Amazon. The author is still in the red. Diamonds & Rats (2018) paperback, professionally bound. Baseball, sex, love, humour, and things being blown up.
Streccano (2018) paperback, professionally bound. Not particularly funny, but there are a few pleasant lines amidst the worldwide (52% Aotearoa-based) mayhem.
The author brushes after every meal.”


Sample from Streccano

26th June 11:00 p.m. N.Z.S.T.
Auckland, New Zealand
Radio New Zealand News (transcript, excerpt)
Deloitte: “Radio New Zealand News, I’m Samuel Deloitte. Two men are dead in Whangarei after an incident involving a blue alien. Simon Ngerope has that story.”
Ngerope: “Police were called to a block of shops in Maunu Road near State Highway 1 at
about 9:30 this evening where they found 2 men dead, 1 of them allegedly the victim of a blue alien. According to witnesses, 23-year-old Martin Skye — who was wearing a T-shirt depicting a blue alien and the words “Foe……..or Friend” was stopped by 32-year-old Dougal Fitzroy of Hupara and asked if Skye was an animal rights supporter. He was then knocked to the ground by Fitzroy and kicked. Two local residents tried to intervene but Fitzroy threatened them with a tyre iron. Fitzroy, who was an employee at the freezing works in Moerewa near Kawakawa until the invasion, then struck Skye with the tyre iron and continued to kick him. He then fled in his truck eastward along Maunu Road but was stopped by an alien which witnesses say flipped the vehicle upside down, pulled Fitzroy out of the window and kicked him to death. An unidentified woman is in Whangarei Hospital after suffering a stroke. She was witness to the beating of Skye by Fitzroy. Police have closed off Maunu Road from Porowini Avenue to Highway 1 and have given no indication when those roads — when that road — will re-open.”
Deloitte: “It is 1 of the 1st incidences in the world of the death of a human being avenged by an alien.”

Northland creative writing news updates – January 2019

Bits of Northland creative writing news from our peninsula:



*** New publishing cooperative – who would like to be part? ***

NZ Society of Authors members have been discussing forming a publishing cooperative and could use specialists in manuscript assessment, promotion, covers, printing, distribution and more. Let’s get a conversation going. Post your contribution at



Want writing inspiration? These NorthTec grads have written novels

NorthTec writing graduates complete novels. 

Check out the media release from NorthTec about two Level 7 writing diploma graduates who have written novels and are publishing this summer.

Writing graduates embrace self-publishing

21 December 2018

NorthTec applied writing graduates are taking control of their works and joining the increasing number of authors who self-publish.

Full-time writer Kathy Servian completed the Diploma in Advanced Applied Writing (Level 7) in 2017. She published her first novel while studying, and has gone on to publish three further works, with another in the pipeline.

Her books are available as paperbacks or can be downloaded to electronic devices like Kindles. Kathy says while self-publishing is hard work and requires effort and motivation, it gives her control over her own works.

Her first novel, Peak Hill, is a contemporary romance set in Northland, and was a finalist in the Romance Writers of New Zealand’s Pacific Hearts Award. In late 2016, Kathy took the plunge and self-published the novel.

She followed this in 2017 with a romantic suspense novel, Throwing Light, which shifts between 1990 and the present. As part of her Level 7 studies which required her to write a novel under the supervision of a tutor and an established author, Kathy then produced a historical work, The Moral Compass. Set in New Zealand and England in the 1850s, it became the first of a trilogy and was followed by A Pivotal Right, and Kathy is currently working on the third and final volume, Slaves in Petticoats.

Kathy, who now lives in Auckland, said the process of self-publishing involves work and financial investment on the part of the author, including organising beta readers for peer reviewing, employing professional editors and proof readers, and having the work formatted for both paperbacks and eBooks.

The author also organises the book cover – which has led the versatile and artistic Kathy into another income stream. After struggling to find authentic images for her historical novels, she decided to combine her talent for fashion design and dressmaking with her love of photography, creating a series of photos featuring characters in period costume, which she now sells online.

She said: “I found making the costume, finding the model and doing the photoshoot helped me visualise the character. It was a really interesting process.”

Once a manuscript is completed, Kathy uploads both the cover and the book’s contents to a specialist website. Within 24 hours, the published work can be purchased worldwide as a ‘print on demand’ paperback, or an eBook, via the Amazon and Book Depository websites.

Meanwhile, fellow graduate Trish Fenton, from Maunu, Whangarei, is preparing to self-publish her first novel, supported by a range of local services. Beyond the Rimu Grove is a New Zealand novel about a young teacher starting out on her career in a remote, rural community. Trish says it’s not an autobiography but does draw on her own experiences.

The retired teacher’s first novel is also the product of her NorthTec studies – she too graduated with her Diploma in Advanced Applied Writing last year, and received the New Zealand Society of Authors Northland Award for Excellence. Encouraged by her assessor, Trish began approaching trade publishers but realised that with so few new writers being published in the traditional way, self-publishing was a better option.

She employed NorthTec tutor, Lesley Marshall as her editor – who she says gave her a “masterclass in editing” – while her daughter, a graphic designer, has created the book cover and will complete the layout, in consultation with the printer. Having met Hazel Oliver from Whangarei company Jeff Oliver Print at a NorthTec hui for applied writing students, Trish is now preparing for her first print run of 400 paperbacks.

She will work with a local specialist, Michael Botur, to launch her novel and connect with distributors. He will also assist with setting up a website and providing an online version of the novel.

Trish says she is enjoying the publication process and is pleased with the interest in her first novel through the various groups she is involved with.

She and Kathy became friends while studying NorthTec’s online writing programme, and have kept in touch since graduating.




Latest news from PenNorth – the newsletter of Northland Authors

Poetic Documentary

Past Present, the documentary about the poet and environmentalist Peter Dane, is now available on YouTube.
A former professor of English at Auckland University, Peter had survived the Shoah in England and Australia before he became a teacher and academic in East-Africa and New Zealand.
Peter spent the last years of his life as a poet and co-founder of Friends of the Earth in the Bay of Islands. In his poetry, unlike that of many (post-) modern writers, this revolutionary traditionalist celebrated form and beauty as means of realising and contemplating the limited and contingent, yet potentially transcendent and universal liberty of the arts.

Te Puna Women’s Refuge Critiquing Raffle

Lesley Marshall is running her annual Christmas raffle. The prize is a full novel critique (or the equivalent time in editing) in memory of Lesley’s son, with funds to go to Te Puna Women’s Refuge.
To enter, simply send a cheque (made out to Te Puna) to Lesley Marshall (Editline, 20 Beverley Cres, RD 9 Whangarei 0179), and she will put you in the draw. Alternatively, you can direct debit money into Te Puna’s account (Acc: 123101 0056429 00; name: Te Puna o Te Aroha Women’s Refuge) and let Lesley know what you’ve paid them so she knows how many chances to give you. If an overseas writer wants to enter they can donate to their local refuge equivalent. You can contact Lesley at editline[at]
The draw is on 20 December. The critique is for a novel or any similar piece of work, and the winner can send it any time in the next year, either on paper or by email. The costs for entries are as follows:
One chance = $20; 3 chances $30; 6 chances $40; 10 chances $50; 15 chances $60.
The refuge gets very short of food during the festive season, though one year they used the money to create a children’s playground for the families there, and another year they bought clothes for the children. Whatever they use it for, rest assured you’re creating a lot of Christmas joy with your entries. These are people who have suffered hugely, and have often walked out of what should have been their safe, happy homes with only the clothes they stand up in. They really do need all our support. And Christmas is unfortunately the refuge’s busiest time.

Courage Day

The Empty Chair

November 15th was Courage Day – the day of the imprisoned writer. Our empty chair was in honour of Oleg Sentsov, a Ukranian writer charged with terrorism by a Russian court and sentenced to 20 years in a Siberian penal colony, which is the farthest place he could be sent from his home in Crimea. The charges were made up to silence him. Click here to find out how you can help more.

Northland Noteworthies:

  • Jac Jenkins has had a poem (untitled) accepted for publication in the next issue of The American Journal of Poetry, due out on New Year’s Day.
  • Di Menefy’s 1915 Wounds of War is to be translated into braille and turned into an audio book.
  • Kamala Jackson’s manuscript We Are One has been picked by The Literary Consultancy (UK) for their November showcase.

What’s On?

Creative Writing Workshop: From Inspiration to Publication

Practical Fiction Writing Advice and Motivation. Northland indie author Michael Botur delivers a down-to-earth four-hour workshop on fiction writing. Poets can attend too, although fiction will be the main focus of the day.
Where: Te Ahu Centre (Conference Room), Cnr Matthews Ave & South Rd, Kaitaia, Far North.
When: Saturday, 15 December 2018, 9:00am – 1:00pm with two short breaks.
Cost: $45, including writing feedback before and after the workshop.
Email mike[at] to book your ticket.

Poetry Events

FFP5 cover

  • Dirty Word Open Mic at Old Stone Butter Factory, Whangarei: Wed 12 Dec and Wed 9 Jan at 7pm.
  • Poets at ONEONESIX at 116 Bank Street, Whangarei: Thurs 20 Dec and Thurs 17 Jan at 5pm.

Fast Fibres Poetry Five available from fastfibres[at]
$10 for one copy, $15 for two copies.

A full list of Northland writing events, opportunities and writers’ groups can be found here.


NorthTec Applied Writing Courses: Interested in writing picture books? Northtec will be offering their Picture Book paper just once in 2019. It starts in February and runs for four months. If you would like more information about the Picture Book course or any of NorthTec’s creative writing programmes then please contact Kathy Derrick (kderrick[at] or visit their website here.

Unclie glenn

Wanted to buy: Uncle Glenn and Me by Glenn Colquhoun illustrated by Kevin Wildman. This is a much-loved picture book but now my children are having children my only copy is in danger of being purloined. Lesley Marshall editline[at]

Please send us any little bits and pieces that you think might be useful for our Northland members. This includes any writing services you offer, links to useful (or fun) websites that you want to share, writing jobs you hear about, or even a request for a copy of an out-of-print book. Priority will be given to fresh content. Please refer to the contributor’s guidelines for requirements.

Competitions and Opportunities

Best New Zealand Poems

Best New Zealand Poems (published annually by the International Institute of Modern Letters) aims to introduce readers to leading contemporary New Zealand poets.
Only poems or books of poems by New Zealanders published within the calendar year of the current collection are eligible for consideration.
Submissions must be received by 17 December 2018.

Fresh Ink, 2019

fresh ink

With the success of their first anthology in 2017, Fresh Ink: A Collection of Voices from Aotearoa New Zealand 2017, Cloud Ink Press is excited to again be taking submissions for the second in the series to be published in late 2019. The anthology will contain works across a range of fields and genres.
Submissions are open to all New Zealanders, who are either living in New Zealand or have a New Zealand passport, and will close on the 23rd of December.
For further details, visit the Cloud Ink Press submissions page.

NZSA Mentor Programme 2019 – open for applications

typewriter mentorship

Apply now to be mentored by an established writer, poet, playwright or graphic novelist.
The NZSA Mentor Programme accepts applications for the 2019 programme from 1 Dec 2018 to 1 Feb 2019.
The NZ Society of Authors Mentor programme 2019 seeks applications from writers and comic / graphic novelists looking for professional development, a safe space to discuss their work, intellectual community, role models, accountability and substantive feedback.
The writers and creators who gained mentorships in 2018 polished and refined their skills under talented mentors such as Paula Morris, Pip Adam, Geoff Walker and Vivienne Plumb. The NZSA Mentor Programme has an equally impressive group of mentors available for 2019.
This programme is made possible thanks to support from Creative New Zealand. This year, as part of our commitment to diversity, we have again tagged 3 mentorships for emerging writers identifying as Maori, Pasifika and Asian. Learn more…

2019 Calibre Essay Prize

Entry is now open for 2019 Calibre Essay Prize. Founded in 2007 and now worth a total of AU$7500, the Calibre Prize is one of the world’s leading prizes for a new non-fiction essay.
Entry is open to all essayists writing in English. They are seeking essays of between 2,000 and 5,000 words on any subject and welcome essays of all kinds: personal or political, literary or speculative, traditional or experimental.
Entries close 14 January 2019.

2019 Wallace Foundation Short Fiction Contest

This is a contest only for LGBTQI writers, offering an incredible opportunity to upskill and show your writing talent.
First prize is $1000 cash for the winning story, $500 for the runner up and $500 cash for the best writing from a promising young writer aged under 25.
The word limit is a maximum of 2000 words and should not be exceeded. Stories must exceed 1200 words. Entries will close Sunday 31 March 2019. Check it out…

For information on other competitions and awards check out the Calendar of Opportunities on your NZSA website’s members-only page.

From taking the piss to taking it seriously — Michael Botur’s self-publishing journey

Mike holding TRUE aloft 2mb
Author Michael Botur with his newest short story collection TRUE?


by Ayla Miller

With a raft of self-published short story collections, a teen dystopian novel and work published in New Zealand’s top magazines, newspapers and journals, Northland-based indie author, Michael Botur, knows what it takes to break into the literary world.

Now he is on a mission to share what he has learnt with other writers, in what can sometimes feel like an undervalued and over-crowded industry.

In the early days, Michael Botur was a leather jacket, boot-wearing angry young man, with dreams of being a rock star. It’s a far cry from the immaculately groomed professional he is today.

He also describes himself as; “Quite defensive, and if I felt left out of some group of people, I would satirise the group or come up with ways to be resentful of it. I was obsessed with satire, comedy and literature – Bill Hicks, Matt Groening, Denis Leary, Joseph Heller, Chuck Palahniuk, Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs etc. I was an angsty cartoonist for a while there, then a holier-than-thou vegan, I had a mohawk, briefly. It took years to settle comfortably into myself. Just becoming a reasonably-good creative writer, and good at speaking on a stage, took several years.”

His metamorphosis from alternative rocker to author began when he started writing — in his words — ‘crappy lyrics and crappy poetry,’ while at Otago University. It was this shaky beginning that inspired the frequently explored theme of conflict and male codes of violence in his stories.

“I was a little hell-raiser when I was about 18,” he says. “I got into trouble with the law for breaking things, smashing things, doing bad things with my car and drink driving. So sometimes the conflict was me against myself.

“Eventually, trying to make art became the main purpose of my day. It took years until my main identity in this world was as a writer instead of a tough guy with something to prove.”

He soon realised that sitting around waiting for his work to be discovered was not an option. The recent release and promotion of TRUE? – sixteen short stories of strippers, celebs, trysts, travel, virgins, Viagra, jail, journos, A-listers and Class A’s,  is evidence of this.

“At first it was a drag having to raise awareness of my work on my own, instead of people coming to me, but the reality is that we live in such a crowded world that if you sit around and wait for people to discover your work, they won’t. The chances of being ‘discovered’ are increasingly slim,” he says.

“If you get into the habit of being able to clearly describe and promote your work and stand up for it, then you have a skill set that can help in so many ways — not just in sales but in life.

“It also helps with keeping yourself going because if you don’t believe in yourself, then it’s agony when you’re typing away at your computer. There’s always that anxious voice saying, ‘Is it worth it? Is there any point to this? Will this be around in 100 years?’ “

To keep that voice at bay, Michael had to work up the courage to run another GiveALittle campaign to help fund TRUE? and watch a lot of Henry Rollins motivational videos.  One of the most useful videos Michael stumbled upon discussed the importance of performance and staying performance fit.

“Whenever possible I try to perform my words. Even if it’s just to a couple of people, which sometimes it is. You’ve got to stay fit when promoting and performing your writing because you never know when someone is going to ask you to perform something.”

Michael also interviewed actor Rob Mokaraka for a journalism story and found his philosophy inspiring.

Another thing Michael learnt along the way is how to balance what he wants to write with what people want to read.

“It’s like this. While 99 per cent of the publishing industry is not publishing dirty realism, which is a genre that’s a pretty good match for what I write, there’s one per cent of the industry that does. It has its own culture and code and fan base. You have to decide whether you want to be nobody in a big pool or somebody in a small pool.

“The major break through for me was two years ago when I got sick and tired, one night, of going through the process of trying to get a literary journal to publish each of my stories before it had a veneer of approval. Takahe magazine and Bravado are two journals which really empowered me for ten years and published tonnes of my early writing, and I’m grateful to them, but writers should learn that becoming competent is about achieving one million words, or 10,000 hours of writing – it’s not about gaining the approval of some editor.

“Take this, for example: at the start of 2018 I got kicked out of a short story competition because an editor wrote me a snobby letter saying; ‘It has come to our attention that you have already published your story on your blog.’ How ridiculous is that? A writer gets their opportunity taken away because they dared to be proud of their own work? That night I said ‘no más,’ I wrote a cool angsty blog about it then resolved to never again beg for the approval of people who don’t care about my work.”

As for making realistic characters, he says composite characters — characters with a blend of characteristics taken from people encountered in real life — are the way to go.

“If you’re writing a character taken directly from real life it can be too obvious. Writers need to know characters are the number one most important thing in fiction writing. Don’t waste time setting the scene or even describing in great detail what the person looks like. The character isn’t what someone looks like; it’s how they act.”

Of course, publishing a book on a budget sometimes requires authors to step outside their comfort zone, into areas they have less experience with, to design their own covers. To get the cover of TRUE? just right, Michael graffiti-ed his garage wall and turned his backyard into a swamp when removing it later with a water blaster.

“Every author could use some basic training in design and photography. Colour contrast and font are important. The cover has to give you a flavour of what to expect inside. This time I asked more people for their opinions.”

Despite the challenges encountered when going down the self-publishing road, a combination of passion and sheer determination is what keeps Michael going.

“Writing is hard, but it’s a great art to choose from. It costs next to nothing, and you can do it anywhere. You don’t always need a paper, pen or computer to do it and it’s incredibly versatile. Writing can also be turned into other forms of art. It’s a really practical medium.”

Get your copy of TRUE? from Unity Books in Auckland, email or use the order form at