top right wow

New Festival Feature - the World of Words

WOMAD New Zealand is adding a new chapter to the 2017 festival – the World of Words. The new programme is supported by a new festival sponsor, the Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki (WITT) and will feature authors, musicians, critical thinkers and entrepreneurs from New Zealand and abroad.

Taranaki Arts Festival Trust CEO Suzanne Porter described the World of Words as “a site-wide programme created to provoke thought and encourage people to learn, listen, and participate.”

“The aim of each session is to encourage ongoing and informed conversation.”

“WOMAD UK has an extensive World of Words, we wanted to replicate this and add a refreshing element to our festival programme. The addition of the speakers, poets and authors is about the expansion of the spoken word and offers our audience another choice.”

“Every year we host artists with fascinating life stories, achievements and experiences, the World of Words will be a space where a selection of festival artists can share their stories and engage with our audience in a much deeper way.”

When asked what people can expect from the new festival element, Suzanne says the high calibre of speakers and interviews would be evident.

“We’ve been careful in our first year that the programme reflects the notion of “World Class”. We want people to go away having learnt something and able to speak confidently, with more knowledge on the subjects presented.”

WITT Chief Executive Barbara George said the programme was a natural fit for WITT.

“Education opens doors to the world, so it’s appropriate that WITT, which brings students from overseas to study, should also bring people from around the world to engage with the Womad community in 2017,” Barbara George said.

“World of Words, like WITT, will be as diverse as the courses the Polytech offers and will primarily do what WITT excels at – challenge the mind.”


The line-up includes WOMAD artist and Australian icon Archie Roach. Taken from his family at a young age, Archie was one of Australia’s “stolen children”. TV One’s Miriama Kamo will interview Archie about the lost generation, indigenous rights and the right of re-dress.

Fellow festival artist Inna Modja from Mali, will also have strong words to share. A musician, songwriter, visual artist and a victim of female genital mutilation, Inna has been spotlighting abuse against women for over a decade.

New Zealand’s own “Ecoman” Malcolm Rands is an author, businessman and green activist. He’s also the founder of New Zealand’s first ecovillage and the megabrand Ecostore.

To take us into the future there will be thought-provoking words from cancer researcher Tané Hunter and political economist Dr Angus Hervey. The founders of ground-breaking movement Future Crunch will provide intelligent, optimistic thinking about the future and talking about the frontiers of science and technology, and what they mean for humanity.

Womad will also host its first poetry slam – with help from Kiwi all-rounder Penny Ashton. The poet, MC, comedienne, actor, social commentator, TV presenter and improviser will encourage people to take part in this “slam”, during which poets will recite original works in a competition of prose.

For the young – and young at heart – New Zealand author Tanya Batt will be creating magic with words. The children’s author says she’s always been a believer of magic – not the trick kind but the sort that suddenly makes visible what you couldn’t see and delights you in the process. At Womad, Batt will be reading original stories for the delight of children and parents

Three of New Zealand’s most prolific writers will also be participating in the new programme. That voice, the one that sing-songs through poetry with help of rhythmical hands, will captivate audiences at Womad in March. Sam Hunt, one of New Zealand’s most beloved poets and a companion of the NZ Order of Merit (NZOM), will be reading and discussing original works in an informal setting.

Elizabeth Knox (NZOM), one of New Zealand’s most celebrated novelists, has over 15 works published. Probably her best known book, The Vintner’s Luck, has been published in nine languages since its release in 1998. Charlotte Grimshaw, recipient of the Katherine Mansfield Award in 2006 is both a critically acclaimed fiction writer and award-winning reviewer. To date she has eight published works; six are critically acclaimed novels and two are short story collections