Banned books generate an evening's discussion

Auckland wordsmith and BDS book group member Megan Nicol Reed MC-ed a night of banned books


About thirty people were enveloped by the shelves of The Open Book second-hand bookshop in Ponsonby for an evening of banned books.

The Auckland event, a collaboration between BDS and the central Auckland bookshop, was part of Book Night activities on 22 May.

Award winning authors Graeme Lay and Ted Dawe headlined the night, talking about the theme of censorship in New Zealand. Dawe has firsthand experienced of censorship: his young adult book Into the River was temporarily banned two years after it won a New Zealand Post Children's Book Award in 2013.

"When I'm writing, my final arbiter, my most important thing, is doing justice to the narrative. That's my main thing. If it involves using ... 48 f***s, that's what it involves," said a straight-shooting Dawe on the night.

AUT Librarian and social media expert Kim Tairi talked about the role of libraries in a democratic and open society. By providing safe and supportive settings for younger readers to tackle books with challenging content, libraries could help young readers understand their own experience, she explained.

"Librarians aren't neutral and libraries are not neutral places. We take stands on [against] censorship," she said.

BDS member and Herald journalist Megan Nicol Reed capably MC-ed the night, interspersing the formal talks with comments and book group anecdotes. BDS members from groups AUCK 216, 097, 071 and 339 also volunteered their time to help with set-up and refreshments and to welcome attendees.

"A great crowd, everyone spoke wonderfully, lots of questions!" summed up poet and short story writer Anna Livesey, who coordinated the speakers on behalf of Hayden Glass, shop proprietor.

"Thank you so much to the readers and speakers. Great job, e hoa ma!" she says.


Podcasts now available:

  • BDS Promotions person Megan Blakie answers 'What does society gain from book groups?' and other questions here.

Attendees of the Book Night event at Ponsonby's The Open Book    


 (L to R) Speakers included Kim Tairi, Ted Daw and Graeme Lay.

 All photos courtesy of Anna Livesey.

The Book Discussion 
Scheme is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations in Aotearoa New Zealand
BDS is a member of the Federation of Workers Educational Associations