UNESCO Cities of Literature

Dunedin is a magnificent example of a small city that lives, breathes and connects through its people, its culture and its intense love of literature. Situated in the South Island of New Zealand, Dunedin has a population of approximately 120,000 people and although a rather young city in worldly terms, it is well known as a university town of excellence in research and learning, and a city where writers, books and literature thrive.

Dunedin became New Zealand’s first UNESCO Creative City when it was awarded ‘City of Literature’ status in 2014. The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) is designed to develop international co-operation among cities and encourages partnerships that deliver on UNESCO’s global priorities of culture and development, and sustainable development. There are seven different Creative City themes in the Network: folk art, gastronomy, media arts, design, film or music and literature.

UNESCO Cities of Literature work together to build strong global partnerships: encouraging literary exchanges, creating cross-cultural initiatives and developing local, national and international literary links. Each City is dedicated to pursuing excellence in literature on a local level, engaging citizens in a dynamic culture of words.

Read all about the other UNESCO Cities of Literature here.

Vision for Dunedin UNESCO City of Literature

Dunedin will sustain a healthy, creative and prosperous city through celebrating and sharing a diverse and inclusive literature that connects people and place.



  • To build strong creative partnerships locally, nationally and internationally, and in particular cultivate links with cultures and societies connected to New Zealand through the Creative Cities Network
  • To encourage exchanges between current and future Cities of Literature and sister cities which enhance Dunedin’s literary wealth and that of all the participating cities
  • To foster connections through creative writing, indigenous storytelling and translation


  • To work collaboratively and creatively as a city, to take pride in our past, enrich our present and design for the future
  • To establish meaningful and enduring collaborations which facilitate the production and distribution of New Zealand literature nationally and internationally with particular emphasis on new media industries and research organisations


  • To support, encourage and facilitate inclusive access to, and participation in creative educational opportunities, especially children and young adults, which meet the needs and unique challenges of the 21st century
  • To encourage ongoing participation and support from Dunedin’s business community in all aspects of the Creative Cities initiative


  • To explore and develop new modes of creative collaboration, production and dissemination, particularly those that encourage a closer connection between people and place, and sustain community health and wellbeing
  • To encourage children to imagine new communities of writing and reading that might script our common future


  • Manaakitanga –welcoming people to New Zealand, its literature and people, and fostering respectful relationships


Many thanks to the Otago Daily Times, University of Otago, Dunedin City Council and the Fortune Theatre for permission to use their great photography featured on this website.

© Copyright Dunedin City of Literature