Six hundred inhabitants, limitless inspiration, 800km from the closest distraction.
An island at New Zealand’s easternmost boundary and the first past the international date boundary is seeking applicants for a Writers’ Retreat with a difference.
The Chatham Islands, 800km east of New Zealand, is offering writers around the world the opportunity to find creative focus and tranquillity during its first creative writing programme.
Promising an “ocean of inspiration” for aspiring novelists or those with a project to finish, the island of around 600 inhabitants is launching what will be an annual event, from September 8 to 13.
Hosted by acclaimed Gisborne writer Regina de Wolf-Ngarimu, the programme will take on around a dozen writers, to join a half a dozen island residents for a week of sharing knowledge and immersion in the unique setting. With an unique Moriori language - once thought extinct - and an ancient pledge to pacifism, there are many stories that local researchers have only begun to recover. She called it a “perfect, inspiring place for writers”
The New Zealand Society of Authors has published several books and collections of poetry under her pen name R. de Wolf and says it is an ideal place to explore new ideas.
It’s an area that she has never visited, but has close family ties to.
“My mother was born there, my grandparents lived there and my family history is aligned to the island, Maori and European. My first American ancestor was shipwrecked in Flowerpot rock,” Wolf-Ngarimu says
Local author and guidebook writer Jocelyn Powell says that for an area of less than 800 square kilometres there is no shortage of inspiration.
“As soon as I mention it to other writers, they are drawn to the opportunity to be a step away from the mainland and the world.”
She says it will offer a “really different opportunity to writers worldwide.”
Where else would you find such a remote but hospitable island, that has three official names: Rēkohu, Wharekauri, or the Chatham Islands.
Guide and writer Deborah Goomes, who is of Maori, European and Moroiori descent will be leading the writers on the week-long programme, visiting locations including the Kpinga Marae and Kopi Bush Retreat. As a researcher of Moriori history, she looks forward to sharing the history and unique locations of the island with international authors.
The event which is being held in conjunction with the islands tourism body says there are still places left, and authors are invited to apply via their website.