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Guest list announced for First Nations Writers Festival

Joseph Guenzler -

Australia's First Nations Writers Festival 2024, scheduled for May 24-25 in Townsville, has revealed its roster of international guest speakers.

The festival boasts VIP guests from around the world such as Peter Rockford Espiritu, Artistic Director of Hawaii's Tau Dance Theatre and Disney consultant; Monty Soutar, Māori historian and author of the popular Kawai book series; Andri Snaer Magnason, Icelandic author, documentary maker, and climate change campaigner; and Laben Sakale John, Papua New Guinean contemporary artist.

A registered charity, the festival focuses on uncovering Indigenous narratives across the Pacific.

Emerging authors stand to win cash prizes and the opportunity to publish their works.

Hawaiian cultural icon, Peter Rockford Espiritu is set to host the event.

He currently advises the Disney Corporation on the "A Tale of Moana" stage show, slated to premiere this year on the Disney Treasure Cruise ship.

Mr Espiritu said is excited to the share his First Nation's worldview with First Nations Writers Festival attendees.

"I am humbled and proud to celebrate the vibrant, resilient, and relevant stories of the Pacific Peoples and share them with our global village," he said.

Monty Soutar, who's epic best-selling novel Kawai details the brutalities of Māori culture in pre-colonial New Zealand, said he is eager to see more Indigenous writers draw on oral traditions as inspiration for fictional writing.

"I'm looking forward to hearing from a diverse range of writers, meeting people from other cultures, and sharing my own experience of writing the bestselling New Zealand novel of 2022," he said.

Offering his unique perspective is Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason, whose book On Time and Water tackles the complex subject of climate change.

Festival Founder Anna Borzi AM said his best seller is of major interest to ocean cultures.

"Andri's stories of melting glaciers in Iceland effectively drowning island nations, is hugely relevant to the Greater Pacific," Ms Borzi said.

"He has a lot to share on environmental myths, facts and lived experience."

Also speaking at the event is acclaimed abstract artist Laben Sakale John, from Papua New Guinea, who's works include landscapes, portraits, and everyday urban scenes that honour the PNG culture.

"I have assembled such a wonderful lineup of guest speakers - each one is a First Nations leader in their home country, and an advocate for the indigenous," Ms Borzi said.

The First Nations Writers Festival event will announce this year's award winners, while launching the books of last year's winners - John W. Kuri and Paul Puri Nii, both from Papua New Guinea.

"Don't miss the rare chance to meet, greet, and hear from international bestselling authors, as well as new and emerging authors from the Greater Pacific," Ms Borzi said.

"Grab a book, and get it signed!"

Festival tickets are available via the First Nations Writers Festival website.

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