The Infinite Air: The Story Of The First Flight From England To NZ

The Australia & New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts has boosted, in the span of two years, both nations’ literary geniuses. By inviting guest speakers who are recognised writers to share their motivations, inspirations and work they have managed to put a spotlight on New Zealand’s literature movement.

Witi Ihimaera is one of NZ’s most important contemporary writers. His novel Whale Rider has already been adapted to film, for which actress Keisha Castle-Hughes received an Academy Award Best Actress nomination. Ihiamaera’s latest work Maori Boy is an enthralling journey of his childhood which also takes us through Maori history.

Dame Fiona Kidman penned a novelisation of Jean Batten’s life as a pioneering aviator, The Infinite Air. The French pilot was the first to cruise solo from England to New Zealand in 1936. There are a handful of novelists and children’s authors who are prominent Down Under, but lack international recognition. Amongst them, Janet Frame resided in London for seven years in the late 1950s. These years were the most profitable in terms of publication, making her one of the few known NZ writers outside her country’s borders.

Margaret Mahy, a well-known children’s and young adult’s author, was recognised widely in Britain throughout the years up until her death, and thereafter. She was awarded with the Carnegie Medal. Praised in her country for her international recognition and work, today there is an award named after her which is presented to anyone who has made a significant contribution to children’s literature whether it is through writing or publishing.