top of page


Writers' Residency

The Mike Riddell Writers’ Residency  


Mike Riddell_edited.jpg

The indefatigable Mike Riddell also instigated the idea of administering a writers’ residency in Ōtūrēhua.  The idea was to offer a generously donated package of house and stipend to a writer or writers over 12 winter weeks in the hope that they would find inspiration in this grand landscape as well as the support of a group of committed writers who have made this village their home.


Tragically, Mike died suddenly in March 2022, 

before the first residency took place. In his honour we named the residency after him.  Our inaugural residents were Tim Higham for six weeks in July to August, and Rhian Gallagher for the remaining six weeks from August through to September. 

The Residency

Since 2022 we have offered a residency for 6 or 12 weeks.

Successful Applicants

Our 2022 residents were Tim Higham, from Aotea Great Barrier Island and by complete contrast Rhian Gallagher from Dunedin. For 2023, the successful applicants were Lynn Davidson and Wayne Martin.  Lynn was finishing work on her memoir, to be published by Te Herenga Waka University Press in February 2024; Wayne was working on a history for the Clutha Mata-au. Each of them was here for six weeks during the winter.  There were a good number of applicants this year, writing in many different genres and the trustees' decisions were made more challenging by the high calibre of writing skills.  

To those who were unsuccessful, we say, try again and most importantly, keep writing.  


For those looking ahead to 2024, the following gives you an idea of what we are looking for from the successful applicant/s.  

Residency Conditions

We invite applications from serious writers of proven literary merit of the genres of fiction, nonfiction or poetry. ‘Proven literary merit’ means having published at least one book as well as a body of work in recognised publications.

The residency is intended for writers for whom the stipend and the opportunity to dedicate several months to working on a specified project will represent a life-changing benefit. It’s therefore likely that the successful applicant will be an emerging or mid-career writer.

Applicants should be Aotearoa New Zealand citizens or permanent residents actually living in this country, and at least 35 years of age.

There is the possibility for the residency to be shared between two people for six weeks each. Please specify whether you wish to stay for 6 or 12 weeks.  We require each resident to send us a written report about their time in the village and their writing project at the end of their stay. We also ask the resident/s to donate a copy of one of their books to the house.

Resident/s are responsible for their travel to and from Ōtūrēhua and transport while here, as well as their own food. Please note that shopping facilities in the village are limited. Ranfurly is 25 kms to the north, and Alexandra 60 kms to the south.

Applicants also need to be aware that maturity, resilience and good health are needed to live in rural Central Otago through the winter!

The residency cannot be held concurrently with another literary grant. If, at the time of selection, the successful applicant has been awarded one, the Under Rough Ridge residency will go to the next person on the shortlist.

Any published work arising from the residency should acknowledge the award.

In early 2024 we will advise the theme for writers to consider and applications for the residency will then open.


“You have to be here, you / have to feel the deep / slow surge of the hills, /

the cloak of before, the wrench / of beyond” --- Brian Turner



bottom of page