Acclaimed New Zealand author Paula Morris (Ngāti Wai, Ngāti Manuhiri, Ngāti Whātua) is lending her eye and expertise as a curator of this year’s Going West literary festival, and has personal roots in Auckland’s west. The writer and associate professor of creative writing at the University of Auckland attended Te Atatu’s Rutherford High School, as it was called back then, and grew up in Te Atatu South, before going on to find fame for her works including Forbidden Cities, Queen of Beauty, Hibiscus Coast, Rangatira and False River.
After 30 years away from Auckland, mostly overseas, Paula returned six years ago and moved into a flat with husband Tom in an old shirt factory on Greys Avenue, near the Town Hall in the CBD. The best part about where she lives is, she says, the four-metre stud, “which means we can have a long wall of towering bookshelves”. It also means Paula can walk everywhere in the CBD, including to one of her favourite spots in Auckland, Japanese store Daiso.
She also regularly makes her way out west, where the Going West festival is held at Glen Eden’s Play House, Titirangi’s Lopdell House and Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery. This year marks 25 years of the writers’ festival, with Paula curating the live events alongside Amy McDaid, Angelique Kasmara, Jack Cottrell and Sonya Wilson.
Their programme deliberately, and fittingly, “celebrates Aotearoa as a Pacific nation of increasing diversity under the theme ‘Stranded in Paradise’”, and features monthly, themed Saturday night events from August through to November. Each features an array of local literary superstars both emerging and established, including Anne Salmond, Saraid de Silva, Airini Beautrais, Wayne Ngata, Lana Lopesi, Ghazaleh Golbakhsh, Rebecca Macfie, Len Bell, Charlotte Grimshaw (who will be interviewed by Paula) and many more.
• Going West; August 14, September 11, October 9 and November 13. Tickets available here
Favourite place for a drink?
Before the hotel became Fortress MIQ, I liked drinking gin at The Churchill, the rooftop bar of the Four Points by Sheraton on Queen Street. Now it’s a glass of wine at DeBrett’s.
Best place for breakfast?
Browne Street Café on Rosebank Road in Avondale, for some variation on scrambled eggs.
Best place for coffee?
Remedy on Wellesley Street. The owners are from Sheffield, where we used to live, and it reminds us of the original Tamper café in Sheffield, which was owned by a New Zealander. (Confusing.)
For something fancy?
Gemmayze Street in St Kevin’s Arcade.
Favourite place for music?
Live: Auckland Town Hall, mainly for APO concerts. Recorded: Marbecks in Queen’s Arcade. I worked in the old classical shop there when I was a teenager.
Favourite place for movies?
The Capitol in Balmoral, especially for old movies, and the “boutique” screening rooms at Event Cinemas on Queen Street, especially in the middle of the day.
Where do you go for treatments?
I see Laura at Skintopia at Commercial Bay, and Dr Min at Do’s Chinese Medical Clinic in Balmoral. I also like the Chinese pedicure at Golden Sail in St Luke’s, and the Thai massage at Leelawadee on lower Queen Street.
Best kept shopping secret?
The Dove Hospice Shop, around the corner from the Lido cinema in Epsom.
If someone was visiting your neighbourhood/city for the first time, what’s the one place you would recommend they visit?
I would probably drag them to Daiso up from the Civic, where you can buy three things for $10, mainly because I love going to Daiso.