10 Fast Facts


The City of Dunedin blossomed in the 1860s with the goldrushes in Otago and quickly established itself as a City of firsts. In 1869, the University of Otago, New Zealand’s first University, was founded; and not long afterwards, in 1870, the Atheneum Library took root, and in 1871, the oldest state secondary school for girls, Otago Girls’ High School. Dunedin’s reputation for education was also reinforced when the first Polytechnic in the country was built in the city, along with the first daily newspaper, the Otago Daily Times. Dunedin also took the lead in a cultural, creative sense, with the establishment of New Zealand’s first Public Art Gallery in 1885. Soon to follow was the establishment of the Otago Settlers Museum in 1898, the Dunedin Public Library in 1908 and the Hocken Library in 1910.


In 2011, the University of Otago established a Centre for the Book with the purpose of providing a unique centre of excellence in book history, print culture, and investigations into new platforms and models of book publication and distribution. It fosters new research, promotes book-related activities such as conferences, publications and workshops, and liaises and develops creative partnerships with relevant national and international organisations and businesses.


If you are wanting to nurture those creative writing juices then Creative Writing Otago is for you. Offering a range of face-to-face or online courses designed for the beginning and more advanced writers, and covering fiction, writing your life, poetry and nonfiction, all bases are covered. Award-winning poet, novelist and memoirist, Diane Brown is the designer and tutor for most of the courses with award-winning writer Philip Temple acting as a consultant and occasional tutor. 

Otago Writers Network

The Otago Writers’ Network was created by Kath Beattie’s Writing Group, a collection of writers based in Dunedin, UNESCO City of Literature, who have been writing together since 1993. Most writers benefit from being a member of a writing group, but groups in Otago are few and far between. We hope to change that by helping writers to create new groups that cater to their specific needs. On our members’ page we share our work and via links to our radio series, Charlie's Angels, twenty four years of writing together, tell you how we have benefited from being part of a writing group. From our resources page you can make contact with existing groups, and discover how we can help you to create a group of your own.



Centre for Science Communication

The Centre for Science Communication is the world’s largest postgraduate facility for science communication, and was established in 2008 as New Zealand’s first tertiary-based centre devoted to communicating science. The Centre has three specialisations, Filmmaking, Writing, and Popularising Science. The filmmaking course is taught in conjunction with NHNZ and teaches students how to take factual filmmaking to new heights. The writing course focuses on communicating science effectively with the written word, while teaching students the process of digital publishing and creating multimedia publications. The popularising science course explores combining multi-media for effect, and ways communicating science to all kinds of audiences.

Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies

This Centre provides an opportunity to study the literature, history, film and theatre of the island of Ireland over the past two hundred years, and the history, literature and culture of Scotland and the Scottish diaspora since the late seventeenth century. The Irish Studies programme focuses on the topics of identity, ethnicity, the concept of ‘nation building’, and the history of their contestation. The programme also covers Ireland’s relationships with New Zealand, Australia and Europe. The Scottish Studies programme studies both the internal development of Scotland and the international impact of the Scottish diaspora, as a reflection of Scotland’s history as one of the most mobile societies in Europe.

Department of English and Linguistics

Department of English and Linguistics at the University of Otago has a distinguished record of teaching and research. It offers both a major and a minor in English literature, a minor in Writing, and also hosts the Programme in Linguistics. The English programme provides students with opportunities to read and discuss a wide range of poetry, essays, novels, plays and films, ranging from contemporary fiction to oral epics. The Linguistics programme addresses questions about language, the nature of its structure, and use and development; and teaches how to identify and provide analyses of linguistic phenomena and how to construct and justify arguments for particular analyses.

Department of Languages and Cultures

Department of Languages and Cultures’ mission is to engage in high-quality research and research-informed teaching in the seven languages and three area studies programmes it offers. The Department aims to promote language acquisition as an important life skill in a diverse and rapidly internationalising world. More generally through its programmes and research, the Department also aims to raise understanding of the importance of intercultural skills and understanding and to contribute to cultural debates. The Department is committed to fostering an academic environment that is open, inclusive and respectful, while dedicating itself to excellence in all its activities.

Gaelic Language Course

Gaelic Language Course involves twenty hours of instruction in Scottish Gaelic language and song, and aims to provide participants with a foundation in conversational Gaelic as a basis for further study. The course is offered as part of the Continuing Education series at the University of Otago during their Summer School programme. The course is taught over six days and is meant to sow the seeds of the Gaelic language amongst students, in the hopes that they will continue to develop their newfound language skills. No experience is required beforehand, an introductory session is given about key attributes of Gaelic, with English explanations after when necessary.

Maori Studies

Tēnei te mihi atu ki a koutou i roto i ngā tini āhuatanga o te wā.

Māori Studies is an intellectual discipline within the University, with an academic programme dedicated to the study of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori (the Māori language, Māori customary lore, Māori history, Māori performing arts, Māori education and Māori research) in Aotearoa and Te Waipounamu. The introduction of an immersion Māori language programme from 100- to 400-level based on the Te Whanake series by Professor John C. Moorfield provides a strong foundation for the multidisciplinary offerings of papers which constitute our curriculum.

Te Tumu – School of Māori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies

Te Tumu is committed to high quality research and research-informed teaching, with the aim of producing graduates committed to Māori, Pacific and Indigenous knowledge, heritage and values, and equipped with the skills to be developers of communities and nations in the global context. Te Tumu is rapidly gaining an international reputation as one of the best places in New Zealand to learn about Māori, Pacific and Indigenous languages, cultures and societies. Our multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary staff, students, teaching and research is reflected in our name Te Tumu, a pan-Polynesian term which is often used in Māori in the phrase te tumu herenga waka – the post for tying up canoes.


The New Zealand Book Council's Writers in Schools programme sends top Kiwi writers and illustrators into schools all over New Zealand, with the support of Creative New Zealand, to inspire and encourage young readers. Many Dunedin schools are a member of the NZBC and local children benefit greatly from these inspiring sessions. Since 1974, this worthwhile initiative has encouraged the imagination and writing skills in children across the country. Find out how the programme works, and what your school needs to do to prepare for an author visit.


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