26 is well and truly global these days and 2023 turned out to be a big year for the Aotearoa/New Zealand Chapter of 26.
The Whanganui Literary Festival launched with an exhibition of the Dear 26 project in the Alexander Turnbull Heritage library. Twice postponed, thanks to Covid, it took place this year thanks to Jayne Workman’s tremendous efforts. On day one, Jayne and Jane Berney gave a talk about and a tour of the exhibition. Proof of the success of the opening event was that they sold Dear 26 books and everyone who bought a copy wanted it signed.
The 26 Habitat Treasures exhibition took place at the Space Art Gallery in Whanganui, also as part of the festival. The exhibition displayed a selection of writing and artwork from the 26 Habitats NZ project 2021, and over 100 people attended the launch. Writers and artists were present the opening and centenas were read out.
None of that would have happened without heaps of work by Jayne Workman who lives in Whanganui in the lower North Island. Jane Berney drove a few hundred kilometres from Auckland to be there too, and Catherine Macdonald (another Whanganui 26er) made it such a success.
Then came 26 Plants and five NZ 26ers (Leah Royden, Hayden Maskell, Paul White, Jane Berney and Jayne Workman) added an antipodean touch to that fantastic Bloomsbury event.
Our 26 Forest & Bird Centennial project launched in September and the second stage went live in November. The final stage goes live in January 2024 and will be followed by an exhibition and live event reading of all the work at Lopdell House in West Auckland on 19th February. So far Forest and Bird says it has received more publicity than any project we’ve undertaken with them. Here are some samples of the press coverage: here, and here.
The 26 awards night and celebration ended 26’s year in style, and the NZ chapter again played a part. Jane Berney won the Project Writer Award for her Estina Mavet work from the 26 Orphans project. Congratulations to all the award winners and shortlisted writers. Great work to hear read out live.
Thanks to everyone in 26 who made 2023 such a great year, and Meri Kirihimete from all of us here in Upsidedownland.