Saturday, June 4, 2011
NZ Guest status at Frankfurt Book Fair 2012 a Scoop
A simple ceremony in Auckland last evening (June 2) had enormous significance for the future of New Zealand books and literature on the world stage.
Germany’s Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Guido Westerwelle and New Zealand’s Chris Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Heritage and Culture both spoke at the formal signing of an agreement for New Zealand to become the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair to be held over five days in October 2012.
Dr Westerwelle, accompanied by a sizeable German media contingent, thought the event so important he attended it as part of his two day tour of New Zealand. He opened the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2010 and so is well aware of its importance in the publishing world as the premier international book fair, quoting attendance of 208,000 visitors and 10,000 journalists on that occasion.
“It is a unique chance for New Zealand,” Dr Westerwelle pointed out. “The year-long Guest of Honour program involves all of the guest country’s culture - theatre, dance, art, music and film - alongside books and literature.”
Chris Finlayson said that culture was ‘one of our best kept secrets’ and that he was determined to make the opportunity a great success.
Signing the agreement on behalf of the Frankfurt Book Fair was director Juergen Boos and for this country, chief executive of Ministry for Culture and Heritage Lewis Holden. Kevin Chapman represented the Publishers Association of New Zealand.
PANZ says the Guest of Honour opportunity receives a high profile at the Frankfurt Book Fair with a central open display space and the involvement of other art forms, plus a visiting writers program.
The Guest of Honour is also profiled at the 25 other international book fairs each year at which Frankfurt has a stand.
“The benefits to our publishing community, associated industries and the wider arts community are palpable, says Publishers Association of New Zealand president Adrian Keane.
“The Guest of Honour status will provide us with arguably the greatest platform the New Zealand publishing industry has ever had to showcase its creativity, innovation and outright quality.”
Juergen Boos cited world-class authors such as Katherine Mansfield, Michael King, Janet Frame, Keri Hulme and Alan Duff, as well as poet Hone Tuwhare, who was the first to translate Maori verse into English, and novelist Witi Ihimaera.
But he noted that only a few New Zealand writers were published in German including Alan Duff, Patricia Grace, Ngaio Marsh and Anthony McCarten -- a deficit that the exposure at the fair can help to change.