Dunedin Writers’ Walk
The Word on the Street
Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature is thrilled to be collaborating with the Retail Quarter Project team on its major upgrade of Ōtepoti’s George Street, ‘Totally Georgeous’. The design provides people-friendly spaces with new paving, street furniture, lighting, and public art with the goal of bringing more vibrancy to the central city.
The Dunedin City Council and its urban design team have worked closely with Kāi Tahu, through Aukaha, to integrate a Kāi Tahu cultural narrative and principles into the design. These are expressed through elements such as the species used for new plantings, public art, paving design, and the use of whakataukī in the streetscape.
The celebration of Ōtepoti’s literary mana is an integral and special part of the design. At each stage of the development, poems and excerpts from some of our wonderful writers are being etched into the bespoke pavers, so that locals and visitors can walk to the literary beat.
So far, George Street is proudly displaying these treasured writers:
And in the streets the people endlessly passing,
Hurrying to see a procession, or just idling along.
Ruth Dallas, 1987
your seagulls glide up and down George Street looking to
greet all they happen to meet.
David Eggleton, 2010
oystercatchers by night, above Knox Church, cluck and chuckle, flying seawards.
David Eggleton, 2010
Imagination is a form of courage.
Janet Frame, 1988
Stopped at traffic lights
corner of George and Frederick
looking out of place
in dark glasses
Peter Olds, 2017
Anything could happen
and it could be right now
And the choice is yours
so make it worthwhile
The Clean, 1978
I walked the City last night
Stopping to take everything in
and the City seemed
the same lovely woman I used to know
grown somewhat more ample more assured
with new baubles on display
Hone Tuwhare, 1993
New Plaques Unveiled
21 February 2022
Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature is thrilled that two new plaques have been added to the Dunedin Writers’ Walk in the Octagon. An unveiling ceremony was held at Dunedin City Library to celebrate the inclusion of two writers of enormous significance to Ōtepoti, the late O.E. (Ted) Middleton and Peter Olds.
The occasion was proudly hosted by Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature, and guests were welcomed by Mayor of Dunedin Aaron Hawkins, who reminded the crowd that the Writers’ Walk in the Octagon is an ever-present reminder of why the city had been designated a UNESCO City of Literature.
Both Ted Middleton and Peter Olds were University of Otago Robert Burns Fellows and a part of the cultural fabric of the city, Mr Hawkins said.
Suzanne Middleton (Ted Middleton’s daughter) spoke of the importance of the Burns Fellowship and how the opportunity this offers recipients was visionary. Dunedin is fortunate to have had benefactors who helped ensure that creativity in the city flourished to this day. Peter Olds’ Publisher and friend, Roger Hickin, described Peter’s life and work and his ongoing commitment to documenting the city.
Guests were treated to some well-chosen readings and insights into the lives of both writers by Ted Middleton’s partner Cynthia Greensill, and Jenny Powell and John Gibb, long-term friends of Peter Olds. Nicky Page, Director City of Literature called the gathering of family and friends ‘‘heartwarming, heartfelt, and actually very moving’’.
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins welcomes the crowd (seated Suzanne Middleton and Cynthia Greensill)
Roger Hickin gives insight into the poetry of Peter Olds (seated Suzanne Middleton and Cynthia Greensill)
Essie Summers’ Plaque
On Saturday 8 May 2021, Essie Summers, peerless romantic author, with sales of more than 19 million novels worldwide, was celebrated with a newly unveiled plaque on Dunedin’s Writers’ Walk. An official unveiling ceremony with an opening address by Mayor Aaron Hawkins attracted a crowd of enthusiasts and members of the author’s family. The occasion was an important part of the Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival 2021.
Coinciding with an exhibition at Dunedin Public Libraries’ Reed Gallery titled ‘Seasons of Summers’ this and other events held in conjunction with the unveiling of the new Essie Summers plaque were extremely popular.
The project was the result of many collaborations and partnerships: The Dunedin Public Library Association Friends of the Library, The Alexander McMillan Trust, Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature, DCC Urban Design Team (for location selection) and the DCC Transport Team (for installation). The new plaque located in the Octagon at the base of the Robert Burns statue, is a significant addition to Dunedin’s Writers Walk is perfectly placed to attract ongoing attention from residents and visitors to Dunedin.