Category Archives: Creative Writing

Create1World Moving to Electronic Conference

Kia ora koutou, because your health and safety is our top priority, we will not be proceeding with a physical gathering for Create1World this year.

However, we’ve always had a cutting-edge electronic component to the conference – and we think it is still very important and inspirational to hear from, and support, the voices of our artists at this time.

So we’re working on a plan to expand the electronic part of the conference so that you can still get access to great creative activism wisdom from wherever you are. We’ll keep you posted.

We are also still happy to accept your entries to the competition. We believe creativity is an important way to process everything that is happening. However, the electronic version that you send us will be your judged entry – there will be no live finals.

Please keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates:

Stay safe and stay creative. ❤️

Create1World 2020 Competition Now Open!

Calling all creative rangatahi! We know you have great ideas about how to make the world a better place. Turn them into a short film, poem, story, song or piece of theatre, and you could win cash prizes.  Check out  for all the details of the 2020 Create1World Competition.  It’s NOW OPEN and you have until June 2, 2020 to get your entries in.


Create1World – an antidote to climate grief

Activist/panellist Zimbabwean-Kiwi Makanaka Tuwe at the 2016 Create1World event.

Activist/panellist Zimbabwean-Kiwi Makanaka Tuwe at the 2016 Create1World event.

Climate grief and climate anxiety are real for this generation, say organisers of a Massey University event bringing together youth to share creative ideas and solutions to the climate crisis.

Hundreds of secondary school pupils will converge at Create1World conferences at Massey’s Auckland and Wellington campuses this month to take part in workshops, online and live panel discussions as well as view performances by poets, film-makers and musicians. The aim of the event, now in its fourth year, is to inspire and foster hope among young people in the face of daunting global issues confronting humanity, from climate change impacts to poverty, deforestation, plastic pollution and social inequality.

Create1World is hosted by Massey’s School of English and Media Studies and the New Zealand Centre for Global Studies. Co-organisers Dr Hannah August and Associate Professor Elspeth Tilley say many young people they have spoken to during the year are feeling angry and frustrated.

“Climate grief is real and it has many of them in the grip of fear and anxiety,” Dr Tilley says. Taking action “is a logical and healthy response to feeling frustrated and disempowered, which is just one of the many reasons why the school strikes are so important,” she says.

“Creative action is also an important form of response. It can be accessible to more people – not everybody is able to participate in a protest march – and it can help process emotional responses through catharsis or inspiration.”

Winners of the Create1World Activism and Global Citizenship competition will be announced at each of the conferences (Wellington on November 14 and Auckland on November 21). Finalists’ work includes slam poetry, music, theatre, a poem in te reo Māori, and speeches on topics ranging from refugees and climate change to sexual consent.

Professor Chris Gallavin (left) with Fatimah Khan, from Newlands College, reading her creative writing in 2018. She is a finalist this year too.

Professor Chris Gallavin (left) with Fatimah Khan, from Newlands College, reading her creative writing in 2018. She is a finalist this year too.

Art to displace fear
Dr August says using creativity to channel fear and concern about pressing global issues helps by bringing a human focus and increasing awareness. “Art and creativity can make a difference both to the person doing the creative work and to the audience they share it with.”

Wellington highlights include creative activist Waylon Edwards, of Whakatōhea, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāi Tai and Ngāti Hine, and Diane Wong, who will beam in live from New York via an interactive video feed to talk about her work with Chinatown Art Brigade, an intergenerational cultural collective that uses the power of art to advance social justice.

Wellington-based actor, musician, writer and director Moana Ete, of Ngai Tahu and Samoan descent, and Abhishek Majumdar, an environmental and human rights playwright who will participate via a live feed from the United Arab Emirates, will also be on panel discussions.

Wellington attendees will also be treated to a Climate Change Theatre Action demonstration performance by Massey University Expressive Arts students.

Workshops at Wellington include feminist media making with Dr Claire Henry, broadcast skills with Ilja Herb, performance poetry with Dr Tilley, and creative nonfiction with Associate Professor Ingrid Horrocks, all staff members in the School of English & Media Studies.

Highlights for Auckland are Robbie Nicol, aka White Man Behind a Desk, who makes videos for social media to raise political awareness and engagement, and Alice Canton, an award-winning theatre director known for her work using theatre to tell the stories of Auckland’s Chinese community. Workshops by Massey’s award-winning creative writers and theatre practitioners, including Professor Bryan Walpert, Dr Jack Ross, Dr Rand Hazou and Stuart Hoar, are also on the agenda.

Secondary school pupils or teachers interested in attending Create1World are invited to register now, on:

or check Facebook page:


Horse Comedy a Trifecta for Massey Playwright

Theatre lecturer and playwright Associate Professor Elspeth Tilley has notched up an artistic trifecta with her third consecutive win at the British Theatre Challenge, this time with a dark comedy about the horse racing industry.

Dr Tilley, from the School of English and Media Studies, has won numerous awards locally and internationally for her plays – often using humour and absurdity to address serious social, ethical and environmental issues. She describes her latest winning short play, titled Fabio the Great, “a hilarious horse-eye view on humanity”.

In it, three horse characters muse on and argue about the perils of their existence while providing an comical, yet insightful, commentary on human behaviour. Fabio is the name of the stallion who spouts platitudes about the thrill of winning and being a champion, despite the pain and risks he endures. His equine companions (a mare and a gelding) urge him to escape before he, too, loses his manhood and fighting spirit to the emasculating scalpel.

The 10-minute play (which won Best Play at Pint Sized Plays New Zealand earlier this year in Queenstown) was one of five winners selected from around 300 entries from around the world for the UK competition run by Sky Blue Theatre Company. Each play will be professionally produced, performed and filmed in London in the first week of October, something Dr Tilley is thrilled about as there a few opportunities to professionally stage short plays in New Zealand.

Dr Tilley, who was winner in 2017 with her play Waiting for Go – about people’s addiction to cars – and in 2018 for Bunnies and Wolves – a reality show critique of the public/private health system, says she likes to use humour to get audiences thinking freshly about issues and aspects of culture that are accepted and taken for granted. Like horse racing.

“The play is a hard punch of anti-animal-cruelty, even to the extent of describing the death toll by over training of two-year-old horses, the brutal medical procedures, the doping to keep an injured horse racing), yet it’s wrapped in the soft glove of character-based comedy,” she says. “There’s actually a lot going on for a 10-minute play that deliberately and disarmingly starts off with an inane fart joke!”

Elspeth Tilley’s award-winning play Fabio the Great uses humour to probe the ethics of horse-racing (photo:Unsplash/Jeff Griffith)

Politics and humour can co-exist

The recognition for the play confirms, she says, that “political work – work that in this case has a strong message about animal rights, with some feminism thrown in for good measure – can win open competitions”.

Not that she is aiming to judge people who like horse racing. Rather, she hopes the play might inspire them to think more critically about the industry beyond the glamour of women dressing up for a race meet in heels, frocks and fascinators, the beauty and speed of the horses and big money to be made as a punter or industry participant. After all, she once had her own part to play – as a student in Australia in her 20s, she earned money to fund her studies working as an actor and model promoting horse racing on the Gold Coast.

Elspeth Tilley’s award-winning play on the dark side of horse racing touches on ideas of why humans feel they are a superior species (photo: Unsplash/Sarah Olive)

Humans vs animals

On a more philosophical note, she says the play touches on ideas of ecological equity, questioning the notion of why humans put themselves at the top of a species pyramid, and the assumed narcissism of seeing ourselves as superior to all other species.

“All three of my works that have made the winners’ list in this competition have been political works – the first one about climate change, the second about public health, and now this one with a strong message against the horse racing industry. To me, this shows that being political doesn’t disadvantage a theatre work in any way –  the works are comedic, but it’s comedy with a message.”

Dr Tilley, who rigorously researched the racing industry and equine welfare before writing the play, says she hopes her success will reassure those of her students who “seem to think that being funny and being political are mutually exclusive. But the long history of political satire shows they are elements that are stronger together.”

Dr Tilley says she’d like to see “a whole new generation of expert satirists – I think it is an increasingly important way to speak truth to power and get people thinking critically. I hope this encourages more young people to use the arts to get their own social justice measures across. It is possible. It works.”

Related articles

Creative activism on the move at Massey
Theatre to provoke new thinking on climate change


Celebrating the Work of Massey Alumnus Layal Moore

English and Media Studies alumnus Layal Moore has just kicked off Mooreish Creations, an online creative enterprise that can be accessed here.

Mooreish Creations is a culmination of Layal Moore’s best creative work to date.  It arose from a strong desire to share her work and incite collaboration with others. For her, art and writing is a means of living and is very much inseparable. It provides a form of catharsis, yet also yields self-affirmation and reassurance.

Layal says: “I create to live and I live to create. This stuff just ‘comes’ to me, who knows from where, but it’s a means of processing. I’ll never sell my creative soul”.

Reframing Literature Through a Maori and Pacific Lens

A new Massey University course looks set to radically reframe what we traditionally consider in the study of literature.

Novelist and Massey creative writing lecturer, Dr Tina Makereti (Te Ātiawa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Rangatahi) has created a unique course entitled ‘Oceanic Literatures of Aotearoa: Ngā Tuhinga Kōrero o te Moana Nui a Kiwa.’

The course is being launched for second semester study both on campus and by distance and will allow students to explore customary Māori and Pasifika creation narratives, visual narratives and oral traditions.

Dr Makereti says when considering Aotearoa’s literary past, people tend to think of the first Māori literature as being produced in the 1960s and 1970s. But she says Māori and Pacific cultures were weaving narratives long before English explorers arrived on the scene. “Written literature was never alien to us because our ancestors were already using sophisticated coding built into carving, weaving and ta moko to tell our stories. Our wharenui are libraries of stories built into the walls and into the very faces of our tipuna.”

She says it is time academia acknowledged this visual communication is as much literature as oral and written forms and she believes students, especially Māori and Pacific students, need the opportunity to study the richness of their literary heritage.

“Viewing Māori and Pasifika literatures as a recent development devalues them – we can see this in the lack of courses on this subject available nationally, and the lack of research in this area. By re-contextualising the history of our literatures, I hope to re-energise interest in our contemporary writing too.”

Along with studying pre-colonial literature, students will also look at contemporary Māori and Pasifika stories and poems in English and critically evaluate how cultural and historical bias is embedded in reading and writing.

Full details of the course can be found here and it will commence on July 15.

Related articles

Māori literature deserves academic recognition
Excellence in Māori literature celebrated

Create1World 2019

Create1World 2019

Nau mai, haere mai. Welcome to the Create1World 2019 Competition and Conference information pages – Join us to create one world through expressive arts and creativity! Hono atu ki te whakataetae Create1World.  Mahi tahi mo te rangimarie.

Massey University invites young people aged 12-18 (or in schooling equivalent to years 7-13) to enter the 2019 Create1World competition, and/or to join us for a fabulous day of creative inspiration including local and international panellists answering your questions, along with performances, workshops and activities. Last year our conferences were rated 8.9 out of 10 by participants on whether they would recommend them to others!

The competition asks you to produce a creative piece that encourages audiences to join together as a global community and solve some of the big problems we face as a planet.  It could be a video, song, poem, short story, speech or theatre performance – your choice – but it must help us think about ways of working collaboratively for the betterment of all humanity. There are cash prizes! Continue reading

Massey University and Square Edge Visiting Writer 2019 – Pip Desmond

Massey University and Square Edge Visiting Writer 2019 to work on Topical True Story

Massey University’s School of English and Media Studies and Square Edge Community Arts are excited to be hosting award-winning nonfiction author Pip Desmond as the Visiting Artist for 12 weeks from March 2019. Desmond will be working on the true story of a family faced with the suicide of their 21-year-old son while in the care of a DHB acute mental health unit.

Say creative writing lecturers, Dr Thom Conroy and Dr Tina Makereti:

“We had 63 applications this year, and we would have liked to support many of these for different reasons. We were lucky to see some very strong projects and writers. However, in the end, Pip’s project emerged as the most compelling and urgent, due to its subject matter. We note that just as we were making our final decision, the media reported the Coroner’s ruling that the young man’s death was avoidable. Though not related to our decision, this news was confirmation that the work Pip Desmond is doing is extremely timely and relevant, particularly to young people and mental health support systems in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Desmond has an impressive publication record, which includes the New Zealand Post Award-winning Trust: A True Story of Women and Gangs (2010) and The War That Never Ended: New Zealand Veterans Remember Korea (2013). Her latest memoir, Song for Rosaleen, has been longlisted for the 2019 Ockham NZ Book Awards.

Desmond explains about her new project:

“My aim in telling this story is to shed light on issues that deeply affect our society: how we deal with mental illness and our burgeoning suicide epidemic, involvement of families in their loved ones’ care, political responses at district health board and government level, and the tragic pattern of inter-generational suicide created by Māori dispossession.”

While she is resident, Desmond will collaborate with the School of English and Media Studies at Massey University, Square Edge Community Arts and the Palmerston North writing community to share her work and writing experience. She has a particular interest in ethics in creative writing, and presented a TEDxTalk about the topic in Wellington, which can be viewed on YouTube.

We’re also very pleased to announce that our 2020 Massey University and Square Edge Arts Visiting Writer will be New Zealand speculative fiction writer and three time Sir Julius Vogel award winner Octavia Cade. 2020 is a great year to highlight an exciting New Zealand science fiction writer, since Wellington will be hosting the 78th World Science Fiction Convention, CoNZealand.

For more information about Pip Desmond, Octavia Cade, or the visiting artist residency, contact Anne Meredith (email: or Thom Conroy (Phone: +64 6 9517508; email:

Create1World Flyer

Want some Create1World 2018 info to put up on your class noticeboard? Here’s our latest flyer.  Click here  Create1World 2018 Flyer PDF  for a PDF for you to download!

Create1World 2018

Create1World 2018

Nau mai, haere mai. Welcome to the Create1World Competition and Conference information pages – Join us to create one world through expressive arts and creativity! Hono atu ki te whakataetae Create1World.  Mahi tahi mo te rangimarie.

Massey University invites high school students in years 9-13 to enter the 2018 Create1World competition, and/or to join us for a fabulous day of creative inspiration including local and international panellists answering your questions, along with performances, workshops and activities.

The competition asks you to produce a creative piece that encourages audiences to join together as a global community and solve some of the big problems we face as a planet.  It could be a video, song, poem, short story, speech or theatre performance – your choice – but it must help us think about ways of working collaboratively for the betterment of all humanity. There are cash prizes!

“We are still raving about it.” (Teacher, Wellington)

The conference days are free to attend, and give you a feast of creative inspiration from other young people and leading artivists (that’s artists who use their creativity to generate change)!  There’s one conference at Massey Wellington, 9am – 3pm on November 15, and one at Massey Auckland, 9am – 3pm on November 22.  We provide morning tea and lunch, a goody bag, and a wealth of information and inspiration about creativity and global citizenship.

If you already know you want to come to a Create1World conference day near you – please register here: Registration for the Auckland event has been extended until 5pm on November 8, 2018.

You can attend a conference day without having to enter the competition – but we really hope you’ll do both! It’s great to see what ideas everyone has and share our own Kiwi young people’s creativity alongside our featured local and international artists’ stories about their successful creative journeys.

We are very grateful to New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO for supporting Create1World, including with prizes, and travel support for participants (if your school needs help with travel for students, please contact us on to discuss – we want to see wide participation at Create1World!).

If you’d still like a bit more of a sense of what it’s like to come to a Create1World Conference before you sign up, check out the Radio New Zealand story here:

So get creating and registering, and come join us for Create1World 2018!

“Thank you so much for such an amazing conference today. I had little to no idea what was going to happen and it completely blew my mind how well put together it was. It was so interesting and fascinating to hear different perspectives from not only the panel internationally and domestically, but as well as from teachers/tutors within Massey University. Thank you so much once again❤️” (Student, Auckland)