The cream of the New Zealand crime writing scene and talent from overseas came together for Rotorua Noir, the first crime writing festival held in New Zealand.

A pōwhiri, creative writing workshops for budding authors and two days of author panels were all part of the action on the weekend for attendees who travelled from as far as Germany to gain insight to the minds of some of the best crime writers from around the globe.

Craig Sisterson formed the festival with Grant Nicol after meeting at a similar festival in Iceland.

Jennifer Lane engaging with the audience at Rotorua Noir. Photo / Stephen Parker
Jennifer Lane engaging with the audience at Rotorua Noir. Photo / Stephen Parker

Sisterson said the pair independently had the idea of creating a crime writing festival in New Zealand and when Nicol moved back to New Zealand, they decided Rotorua would be a good place to start.

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"It's a great place to bring people together. There is all the Māori history, beautiful scenery, lots to see and do.

"We want to welcome our international guests from overseas and have an amazing festival but also, they get a little taste of New Zealand. "

Joshua Pomare, Rotorua local, at Rotorua Noir. Photo / Stephen Parker
Joshua Pomare, Rotorua local, at Rotorua Noir. Photo / Stephen Parker

Of the 45 storytellers who were present on the weekend, Sisterson said about 30 were from New Zealand - the most New Zealand crime writers ever gathered together.

He said the festival was small, with just over 100 attendees, but the pair wanted it to be intimate. He believed it could have sold out twice over.

"We literally sold out three-and-a-half months ago, we've had to turn people away that wanted to come."

Nathan Blackwell author of The Sound of Her Voice at Rotorua Noir. Photo / Stephen Parker
Nathan Blackwell author of The Sound of Her Voice at Rotorua Noir. Photo / Stephen Parker

When asked what's next for the festival, Sisterson said: "I think the question is when it will happen again."

He said the festival already had potential guests of honour lined up, therefore, it was a question of when or where the pair would hold it.

Alex Gray, the grandmother of crime festivals, was one of the co-founders of the crime writing festival in Scotland, called Bloody Scotland, which draws more than 10,000 people for the weekend.

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That spurred other festivals, such as Iceland Noir, which was the namesake for the festival in Rotorua.

Gray said: "We had some good ingredients. We wanted things to be different and to be quirky, we didn't just want the standard panel.

"Our formula has been copied all throughout the others, for example, Rotorua Noir had their workshops on a Friday which we do."

Jacky Collins from the United Kingdom at Rotorua Noir. Photo / Stephen Parker
Jacky Collins from the United Kingdom at Rotorua Noir. Photo / Stephen Parker

Gray had always wanted to come to New Zealand and said previously to Sisterson that if he created a festival she would be there without a doubt.

"About a year or so ago he said 'we are holding Rotorua Noir, would you like to be our guest of honour?'

"I think I said, 'hold me back!'"