Spotlight on NZ at Frankfurt Book Fair

26th Feb 2012
Spotlight on NZ at Frankfurt Book Fair

Aotearoa New Zealand will be under the spotlight in Germany at the Frankfurt Book Fair - the world’s largest publishing event - in October this year.

As the official guest of honour at the five-day fair, New Zealand will occupy an impressive pavilion showcasing Kiwi creativity and culture to a potential audience of more than 300,000 visitors, journalists and exhibitors from 110 countries.

As well as the huge portfolio of New Zealand literary talent on show, the pavilion will host events and, in the months leading up to the book fair, Kiwi writers will participate in high profile literary and promotional events throughout Germany.

The first of the German literary events is the Leipzig Book Fair next month (March 2012) which will showcase nine New Zealand writers.

Frankfurt Guest of Honour
New Zealand publishers have attended the Frankfurt Book Fair for more than 10 years but the guest of honour selection provides a unique opportunity to show off New Zealand’s talents in Germany.


FBF project director Tanea Heke says New Zealand will provide a visual and cultural feast - featuring film, visual arts, theatre, dance and writers’ tours - to showcase Aotearoa’s best literary and cultural talent.

Participants will also have the opportunity to sample some of the country’s best wines and food products, and experience innovative Kiwi design.

While you were sleeping
Language and culture is destined to provide a common thread in New Zealand’s Frankfurt programme which has been themed as: He moemoeā he ohorere / While you were sleeping / Bevor es bei Euch hell wird - a poetical reference to New Zealand’s founding Māori and European cultures, Antipodean location and opposing hemisphere time zones.

This will inspire a programme of creative events celebrating New Zealand’s rich heritage and multi culture, and sharing some of Aotearoa’s living and past treasures.

Oral story-telling underpinned traditional Māori culture but capturing memories with the written word is relatively new in a country where the first book was only printed in 1830.

Modern Aotearoa New Zealand, however, has a thriving literary scene and many New Zealand writers fuse Māori culture and legend into works written in English.

An increasing number of New Zealand literary works are translated into German.

New Zealand pavilion
An internationally renowned Kiwi creative team is leading the design and development of the pavilion which is set to “absolutely captivate and impress” German audiences, according to Tanea Heke.

The pavilion - designed to reflect some of Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique physical and cultural elements - will occupy a central space at the fair offering manaakitanga / hospitality in a restful space. The structure will sit on water, like an island with causeways linking it to the rest of the fair, and under lighting that recreates the star-filled southern hemisphere sky.

“We want people in Frankfurt to ‘get’ New Zealand in a few minutes and this concept will do this - emotionally, intellectually and physically,” Heke said.

Architects Patterson Associates - named by World Architecture News as 21st century future shapers - have designed the 2500-sqm pavilion.

The team also includes events wizards Inside Out Productions (Tourism New Zealand’s giant rugby ball in Paris, London, Tokyo and Sydney) and innovative furniture designer David Trubridge.

New Zealand writers
New Zealand writers have regularly captured international attention and readers, from 19th century short story writer Katherine Mansfield to the lyrical Janet Frame (mid-20th century) and Lloyd Jones (Mr Pip).

Kiwi crime novelists also have a strong following, beginning with Ngaio Marsh and more recently Paul Cleave (described by Libro Journal as “Ein geradezu furchterregendes Talent”) and Vanda Symon, creator of the strong sexy female detective Sam Shephard.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s wealth of non-fiction publishing ranges from stunning artistic and commercial treatments of traditional culture and contemporary arts, through history, popular science and narrative non-fiction, to lavish lifestyle books that celebrate New Zealand’s unique culture.

New Zealand’s many voices are also heard in poetry. Selina Tusitala Marsh’s first collection was greeted as a “challenging new fusion … refreshing and daring”.

Kate Camp, who has published four collections, held a 2011 writer’s residency in Berlin, and leading contemporary poet and literary figure Bill Manhire is due to release a new selection in 2012.

Children’s writers, such as Margaret Mahy, Lynley Dodd and Joy Cowley, have brought the joy of books to children and helped create many adult readers worldwide. An exciting new generation of childrens and young adults writers, such as Mandy Hager, are following in their footsteps.

Background: Frankfurt Book Fair

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the biggest book and media trade fair in the world, with about 7500 exhibitors from more than 110 countries and attracting about 300,000 people during its five-day duration.

  550 years old
  5 days long
  110 countries
  7,500 exhibition spaces
  300,000 visitors
  1 guest of honour


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