We were huddled around a brazier under a blanket of clouds on a ridgeline overlooking the sea, not far from the centre of Nelson, sipping on freshly harvested apple juice. It was only a few days after the nights had started getting longer than the days, still early in the evening but very dark, the Pleiades now more than half a world away from rising. It was an intimate gathering of friends to celebrate Te Ngahuru, the Autumn Equinox, and we'd just heard the story of the Māori goddess Pani who, after being shamed by Maui, descends to the underworld. After acknowledging the fruits of the harvest with a big gulp, we honoured our dead – and the cycles of decay and renewal. I then found myself sitting next to Noa Parker
, whom I'd met briefly at a festival the previous summer, and the seed was planted for these writing retreats.
Noa told me about the yoga retreat she had hosted at Zatori in Golden Bay several months earlier; I told her about my desire to offer a writing retreat combined with yoga classes because, in my own experience, moving and stretching my body not only helps me stay healthy – supporting the long hours of what is a very sedentary pursuit – but it helps me reach deeper into my subconscious and access untapped sources of creativity. We will experiment with a series of inspirational exercises I've found most helpful in my own writing – using our minds, bodies and subconscious/spirits – in the first retreat
for 2018, to be held at Zatori in Golden Bay from 6-9 April.
For many years, since I first arrived in New Zealand, I've wanted to bring my friend and former colleague Jesse Blackadder
to the top of the South Island to teach and I'm delighted she has accepted my invitation to teach at the second retreat
in 2018, which will be held at Appleby House, only 25 minutes drive from Nelson, from 11-14 May 2018. Jesse has run many creative writing workshops, both in Australia and internationally, and she's guaranteed to not only inspire you - but unlock the story only you can tell, the tale that belongs out in the world. Elizabeth Knox
was my MA (Creative Writing) supervisor in 2016 and guided me, with both gentle encouragement and pithy advice, to uncover the story I was really trying to tell and helped me completely transform my writing in the process. When I mentioned to Elizabeth that I was planning a series of retreats, she generously offered to teach at our third retreat
, which will be held at Appleby House from 5-8 October, the weekend before the 2018 Nelson Arts Festival Readers and Writers commences. Elizabeth is not only one of New Zealand's best writers but a fabulous mentor, so take advantage of this unique opportunity to get her support – it will take your writing to a whole new level and shape the world you are creating in at least three dimensions, if not more.
- Kerry Sunderland