Inaugural Writers
Rough Ridge Trustees Jenny Beck, Paula Wagemaker, Bridget Auchmuty, Mike Riddell, Brian Turner, Rose Riddell. Absent Jillian Sullivan. Photo Supplied

The Trustees of the Under Rough Ridge Writers’ Retreat (URR) are now offering, for the first time, a 12-week residency in the village of Oturehua.

The residency will include the exclusive use of a house, and a weekly stipend of $1000 during the stay.

The selected resident will be a serious writer of proven literary merit in the genres of fiction, nonfiction or poetry.  They will have published at least one book, as well as a body of work in recognised publications.

The Under rough Ridge Writers’ Retreat Trust holds a very special annual retreat in September – special because Oturehua is special, special because the trustees are all proven New Zealand literary identities, special because the 30 or so locals make sure that a good time is had by all, and very special because of the mentoring the writers receive.  

The Trustees are established writers in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, memoir, script-writing, editing and more, and of course include our icon of Central Otago poetry, Brian Turner.

The resident will have exclusive occupancy of a three-bedroom house (built 2012) in the centre of the village, three doors from the pub and store.  

Power, internet and firewood are covered by the residency, and the house has a woodturner and a heat pump.  If you have been to Oturehua in winter, you will know that these details are important!

As the trustees warn, “Applicants should be aware that maturity, resilience and good health are needed to live in rural Central Otago through the winter!”

Residency dates are from early July to late September – the final week (24 September – 1 October) coinciding with the annual Writers’ Retreat.

The Trustees say, “The theme of this year’s URR retreat is the environment; preference for the residency will be given to someone who demonstrates in their wiring an awareness of our connection to the land and our urgent need to be responsible kaitiaki.”

The resident is expected to give an informal talk during that week about their stay, and to donate a copy of their books to the house.

Closing date for the applications is 20 April, 2022 and a decision will be made by mid-May. More details are available on:

The photograph of the trustees was especially taken for this story last Friday night. On a very sad note, trustee Mike Ridell, who has from the start been a driving force behind the retreat and now the residency, died suddenly on Saturday morning. Mike was a novelist, poet, screenwriter, and producer and, with his wife Rosemary, a WONVDERFUL member of the Oturehua community.

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