Aroha Awarau is an acclaimed storyteller who has enjoyed success in three different writing disciplines – film scriptwriting, playwriting and journalism. His third play, Provocation, about the controversial gay panic defence, debuted during the 2020 Auckland Pride Festival. Aroha has a degree in film studies and his short films Puti and Clenched have both won awards. He has worked for the NZ Woman’s Weekly and Woman’s Day magazine, and was previously a producer/reporter for the current affairs show Native Affairs on Māori Television and a senior entertainment reporter for stuff.co.nz.
Jesse Bering is a research psychologist and Director of the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago. An award-winning science writer specialising in human behaviour, he has enjoyed international success with his books, including The Belief Instinct, Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That?, Suicidal and Perv, a taboo-breaking work that received widespread critical acclaim and was named as a New York Times Editor’s Choice. All of his books have been translated into many different languages. As a practising science communicator, Jesse has written extensively for Scientific American, Playboy, The New York Times and others, and his work has also been featured in numerous documentaries, TV shows, and radio programmes.
Carole Beu is the owner of The Women's Bookshop in Ponsonby, a regular radio reviewer and event chair, and the presenter of the annual Ladies' Litera-Tea. She was a founding Trustee of the Auckland Writers Festival and in 2019 was awarded an MNZM for services to the literary industry.
Chris Brickell is Professor of Gender Studies at Otago University. He has published widely on the history and sociology of sexuality, with a particular focus on New Zealand's gay history. His award-winning book Mates and Lovers is the definitive history of male homosexuality in New Zealand, while his latest book, Queer Objects, which he co-edited, was published internationally. He is currently editing James Courage Diaries for publication in 2021, about one of New Zealand’s earliest gay authors.
Henrietta (Etta) Bollinger is a writer and disability rights advocate. Etta has had poems appear in Starling, Mimicry and Scum magazines and plays staged in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. Etta lives with two other advocates and one sympathetic cat. Etta is currently writing a first book of prose about life as a disabled person, with the assistance of Creative New Zealand funding.
Brent Coutts is an historian and poet. His latest book, Crossing the Lines: The story of three homosexual New Zealand soldiers in World War II, has been enthusiastically received, while an earlier book Protest in New Zealand includes a chapter on the advancement of LGBTQ civil rights in New Zealand. In 2017 he published Re-Reading the Rainbow, a history of LGBTQ artists in New Zealand 1968-1995. Brent has written a number of queer art books, published several volumes of poetry and also collaborated with other queer artists, poets and composers.
Joanne Drayton is an acclaimed New York Times bestselling author who has published six books, including Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime and biographies of Anne Perry and Frances Hodgkins. In 2007, she was awarded a National Library Fellowship; and in 2017, the prestigious Logan Fellowship at the Carey Institute in upstate New York. In 2019, her book Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love was the winner of the coveted Royal Society Te Aparangi Award for General Non-fiction at the NZ Book Awards.
Kassie Hartendorp (Ngāti Raukawa) grew up in Whanganui and is based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara. She is a renowned community activist and organiser working in the areas of youth, takatāpui, anti-racism, workers rights and housing. She is a former youth worker who supported LGBTQI young people and serves on the Tīwhanawhana Trust, a takatāpui community group. Kassie has written essays for The Spinoff, Pantograph Punch and Vice on gender diversity, whakamā, and being queer and Māori. This year she edited/organised The Aunties Magazine, a one-off magazine about political organising in Aotearoa.
Elizabeth Heritage is a Pākehā freelancer in te ao pukapuka (the NZ book trade / publishing industry / literary circles / media) helping kaituhi (writers) get published. She identifies as bisexual and whaikaha (disabled). Elizabeth is based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara and online at http://elizabethheritage.nz/ where she writes extensively about her kiore mōkai (pet rats).
Marolyn Krasner was born in downtown Los Angeles in 1974 and has lived in New Zealand since 2004. Her queer-focused stories, which have been published in several anthologies, are strategically crafted to make you laugh, or not. Her novel The Radicals, about a feminist activist who is on probation for assaulting homophobes, was published in 2020. Marolyn lives in the Manawatu with her wife Ruth, two children and a small dog.
Born in the UK, bred in Aotearoa, Ahilan Karunaharan is a writer, actor, director and producer of Srilankan Tamil descent. From intimate encounters to large-scale epics, pioneering works for the South Asian community, international arts festivals, immersive participatory installations and musicals, Karunaharan has been involved in shows, productions and festivals both nationally and internationally. His plays include The Mourning After, Tea and My Heart Goes Thadak Thadak. In 2018 Ahi won The Bruce Mason Playwright Award, recognising his work as an outstanding New Zealand playwright.
Cole Meyers is an educator and activist. He works as a consultant on trans and gender diverse narratives and inclusion in film, television, web series and theatre, including at Shortland Street, where he is currently a dialogue writer and previously a story-liner. He has been on the board of samesame but different and Breaking Boundaries, where he has run workshops on writing, performance and art, and an organiser and script selector for Legacy Project. He also works with InsideOUT, including as a writing and performance teacher, and has worked with RainbowYOUTH. Cole was the writer and co-showrunner for the recent critically acclaimed Rūrangi series.
Rhion Munro works in community service design and is passionate about connecting communities with learning and literacy services. He likes to read (everything), dance, make music, smash the patriarchy, write poetry, hike and travel to distant and not so distant places. Rhi is a qualified librarian and is studying a postgraduate diploma in public health. He is a proud non-binary person who uses he/they pronouns.
Jackson Nieuwland is a genderqueer writer, publisher and bookseller. They are the author of I Am A Human Being(Compound Press 2020) as well as two collaborative chapbooks with Carolyn DeCarlo. They are a co-founder of Food Court, a reading/zine series and independent bookshop in Wellington.
Lil O’Brien is a freelance copywriter and first-time author who has been described by numerous friends as 'the gayest person I know'. She's written for a number of publications about queer topics and more, and spent two years telling her coming-out story around New Zealand as a part of RainbowYOUTH's high-school education programme, which inspired her to write her best-selling 2020 memoir, Not That I'd Kiss a Girl. Lil loves to read, talk far too much about lesbian pop culture and ride a motorbike around town, just to make sure she is hitting peak gayness at all times possible.
George Parker researches, writes and educates on bodies, fatness, health, gender and justice. They are passionate about finding pathways to peaceful embodiment that resist norms and celebrate difference. They are a big fan of the samesame but different festival and are very pleased to take part in this year’s festival.
Jennifer Palgrave (aka Lois Cox and Hilary Lapsley) are both experienced writers with publications to their names as well as editing experience. The One That Got Away, a lesbian mystery under the pseudonym Jennifer Palgrave, is their first collaboration and first venture into writing fiction. Lois’s career began in publishing before becoming a senior public servant. Her life experience includes time as a student at Cambridge University and a campaign as a political candidate, running for parliament in the Lange era – both experiences relevant to aspects of The One That Got Away. She edited, with Harvey McQueen, Ten Modern New Zealand Poets, a widely used anthology of New Zealand poetry and she conducted an oral history project on the lives of older lesbians. Hilary’s background is as a social scientist and academic. She has taught lesbian studies as well as having many academic articles and reports to her name, as well as the biography Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict: The Kinship of Women.
Victor Rodger is a critically acclaimed playwright of Samoan and Scottish descent. His work often deals with issues of sexuality, race and identity, and has been praised for its boldness, candour and freshness. Since his first award-winning play, Sons, was produced in 1995, he has written eight plays, including Black Faggot, My Name is Gary Newmanand Club Paradiso. A collection of his work was published by Victoria University Press in 2017, while his personal essay, Voyage Round My Father, was published in The Best of E-Tangata the same year. Victor has also written extensively for television, as well as children’s stories for Radio New Zealand.
Jen Shieff’s crime fiction is set in historic Auckland, in and around an infamous brothel, loosely based on Flora MacKenzie’s house of ill repute in Ring Terrace, St Mary’s Bay. The Gentlemen’s Club (2015) and its stand-alone sequel The Vanishing Act (2018) went straight to the Nielsen Indie Top 20 and Weekly Bestseller lists, before being shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Awards. The Ties That Bind, Jen’s third book, is another crossover historic / lesbian / crime novel, due to be published later in 2021. Jen writes from her home in Turangi. Previously she taught English literature at high school, owned and managed a business and taught management at Auckland University of Technology.
Young Alumna of the Year (UoA) Courtney Sina Meredith, is a distinguished author whose work delves into issues such as racism, sexism and poverty and draws on her Samoan roots. She is the Director of Tautai, Aotearoa’s leading Pacific arts organisation. Courtney has been awarded prestigious creative opportunities around the globe. Heralding an era of niu leadership, she has a strong focus on giving voice to the contemporary experiences of Pacific women. She lives in Aukliani with visual artist partner Janet Lilo and their children.
Ramon Te Wake (Te Rarawa) is a Webfest NZ nominated director and producer (2018, 2019) for Attitude’s Glimpse and Crips in Cars. She is one of the first trans women to present, direct and produce content in Aotearoa. With more than 17 years in the film and TV industry, Ramon has created hundreds of stories with a strong focus on Māori, queer and the marginalised as the backbone to her extensive and prolific catalogue. In 2020, Ramon appeared in New Zealand’s first trans drama Rūrangi as Ellie. Her most recent work is the much-anticipated graphic novella Ahō Wāhine, in which she reinterprets four Māori stories, Papatūānuku, Hineahuone, Hinenuitepō and Mahuika.
Ian Watt is a retired publisher and editor. Born in New Zealand, he worked for several years in the UK before returning home to publish groundbreaking gay fiction by Peter Wells, Witi Ihimaera and Robert Leek in the 1990s. He has been on the board of ssbd since its inception and organises the annual Peter Wells Short Fiction Contest. Having edited the work of many other writers, he is now doing some writing of his own.
M. Darusha Wehm is the Nebula Award-nominated and Sir Julius Vogel Award-winning author of the interactive fiction game The Martian Job and the science fiction novels Beautiful Red, Children of Arkadia, The Voyage of the White Cloudand the Andersson Dexter cyberpunk detective series. Their mainstream books include the Devi Jones’ Locker YA series and the humorous coming-of-age novel The Home for Wayward Parrots. Darusha’s short fiction and poetry have appeared in many places, including Terraform and Nature. Originally from Canada, Darusha now lives in Wellington.
Elyssia Wilson-Heti is an interdisciplinary artist, activist and member of FAFSWAG. She is of mixed Niuean and European heritage. Elyssia is producer for the FAFSWAG Arts Collective, having produced live performances, community events, arts panels and activations over the past five years. She has featured in works for the Auckland Fringe festival and Auckland Pride. Her arts / community practice is collaborative and intersectional, and she has been an active member of the collective action group Oceania Interrupted. In 2019 Elyssia was a judge for the best of Auckland Fringe and selected for the Basement Theatre development programme, 'The Visions Project'. She was the producer in residence at the Basement theatre for 2020 and, with the other members of FAFSWAG, a recipient of an Arts Laureate last year.