Same Same But Different NZ
Julie Watson is in her fifth year of being the programme Manager for Samesame but different. She is an educator, facilitator and advocate. After two decades of working with the Human Rights Commission, she is now programme lead for Silver Rainbow, a facilitator with Rainbow Tick and does education and consultancy around relationship and LGBTQI issues. Julie is part of the Rainbow Panel Advisory group to Auckland City Council and is also the artistic director for Auckland Playback Theatre and an independent advocate for students at Unitec.
Peter Wells founded the Same Same But Different LGBTQI Writers Festival in 2015, having already co-created the Auckland Writers Festival in 1999. An award-winning author and film-maker, Peter consistently broken barriers in both publishing (his collection of short stories, Dangerous Desires, was the first gay-themed book to be published in New Zealand
under the author’s own name) and film (Jewel’s Darl showed transgender characters in a sympathetic light as early as 1986). His subsequent writing career embraced both fiction and New Zealand history, and he received many accolades for his work in both areas. In 2018 Unity Books gave Peter Wells a $20,000 award for his ‘body of work but also his long-span
social justice activism ... His strong sense of social justice combined with his literary achievements has nourished, sustained and encouraged readers in Aotearoa.’ On being told he had cancer in 2017, he chronicled his experience of living with the disease in a series of Facebook posts which he later turned into his last book, Hello Darkness, published shortly
before his death in 2019.
Ian Watt was born in Warkworth and raised in Auckland. After completing an MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Auckland, he travelled to the United Kingdom where he initially worked at Decca Records before finding his true niche as a book editor and publisher. He worked in London at Thames & Hudson, SPCK and the Royal Society of Arts before returning to New Zealand, where he became the Managing Editor at Reed Publishing. There, for the first time in New Zealand, he published openly gay works of fiction by Peter Wells, Witi Ihimaera and Robert Leek. After a stint as publisher at HarperCollins, he abandoned the multinational publishing machine to become a freelance editor and publisher for Exisle Publishing. Following his retirement, he is now turning his hand to writing his own books.
Joanne Drayton is an acclaimed New Zealand author whose output is globally recognized as being of the highest caliber. Her book The Search for Anne Perry was numbered in the top 10 non-fiction books on the New York Times bestseller list in 2015. It was a finalist in the prestigious New Zealand Book Awards in August 2013; it was the subject of a 60 Minutes programme; and a cover story for the NZ Listener. Her critically acclaimed Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime (2008) was a Christmas pick of the Independent newspaper when it was released in the UK in 2009. The subjects of her other biographies include Frances Hodgkins, Rhona Haszard and Edith Collier. She has curated exhibitions and publishes in art history and theory. In 2007, she was awarded a National Library Fellowship, and in 2017 a prestigious Logan Fellowship at the Carey Institute in upstate New York.
Jeremy Hansen is an Auckland-based writer and journalist. He is the co-author of Villa: From Heritage to Contemporary (Godwit, 2009) and the editor of the book Modern: New Zealand Homes from 1936 to 1977 (Godwit,2013). He edited the architecture and design magazine HOME from 2005-2016, which won Magazine of the Year at the Canon Media Awards in 2016, and the free Auckland weekly Paperboy. He has written for publications including Metro, The Listener, North & South, Architectural Record and Dwell.
Michael Giacon is a poet, songwriter and performer. Born and raised in Auckland, he is from a large Pakeha-Italian family. In 2016 he graduated with a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the Auckland University of Technology, and the same year won the Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems. He has been published in brief, A Fine Line, Fast Fibres, and Fresh Ink. Michael is a founding member of the Isthmus Poets with other AUT MCW alumni. They have produced a chapbook, Cityscapes, through GMTpress.
Sam Orchard 's ongoing web comic 'Rooster Tails' has been running for nine years and is the only comic of its kind in Aotearoa. Written from his life as a queer transgender man, the comic explores themes of mental health, fat embodiment, nerd culture, trans identity, and caring for a food-obsessed cat. Sam is also the author of 'Family Portraits', a series of short comic stories that amplify the stories of intersectional identities within Aotearoa’s rainbow communities. Sam’s activism projects include 'We Are Beneficiaries' and 'Out Loud Aotearoa'. These projects gained international attention across social media and news sites, amplifying viewpoints which are often missing from public discourse.
Simie Simpson (Te Ati Awa) is interested in spaces that allow people and books to connect. She believes in the transformative power of books and the importance of seeing yourself reflected in the books you read. Simie has many years of working in the book trade, cutting her teeth as a bookseller at Unity Books, and working as a rep and then NZ sales manager for Walker Books. Currently she is enjoying the role of librarian in the beautiful Kaipara and reviewing books for Magpies, Sapling, and the Paparoa Press. Simie was a judge for the NZ Children Book Awards in 2019 and the NZ Booksellers Industry Awards 2019. After being a participant and volunteer of same same, and an admirer of the unique place it holds in the queer, literary scene she is keen to be a part of the future of this festival.