top of page


Writer's Residency


The Mike Riddell Writer's Residency  


The indefatigable Mike Riddell also instigated the idea of administering a writer's 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 and August, and Rhian Gallagher for the remaining six weeks from August through to September. In 2023 Lynn Davidson and Wayne Martin each stayed for six weeks. 

2024 Residency


We're delighted to announce our 2024 Residents, Pat White and Paddy Richardson. Pat will arrive in late June for the first six weeks, and Paddy will join us in August, to overlap with this year's Writers' Retreat. Next year's residency will be announced and applications invited  in early 2025.

Pat White


Pat White: is a writer and painter, lives with wife and fellow artist and musician Catherine Day, in Rangiora. Cold Hub Press published Watching for the Wingbeat, new & selected poems in 2018 followed in 2023 by Night shifts; word from the heartland. A group exhibition, including Pat and Catherine’s work, took place in 2022 at Eastside Gallery, Christchurch. He is currently working on a volume of essays that will be a companion volume to How The Land Lies; of longing and belonging, VUP 2010. Time as Mike Riddell Writer in Residence is an anticipated highlight for 2024.

Paddy Richardson

Paddy Richardson is the author of two collections of short stories and eight novels. Her work has been published both within New Zealand and internationally and has been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award, Booklovers Award and longlisted for the Dublin Literary Award. She is a recipient of  a number of other awards, including the University of Otago Burns Fellowship and the Beatson Fellowship. Paddy has been a speaker and reader at many writers and readers festivals and is an experienced and skilled teacher of creative writing.


Paddy’s latest novel, By the Green of the Spring was published in 2023 and she is looking forward to working on a memoir during her Mike Riddell residency.

Paddy Richardson_edited.jpg

2023 Residents

In 2023, the successful applicants were Lynn Davidson and Wayne Martin, each holding a six-week residency.  

Wayne Martin

The Mike Riddell Writer's Residency has been everything I hoped for. I applied based on a plan to write the first full history of the Clutha River/Mata-au. The river and its history has always fascinated me, having seen its waters in flood and hearing tales of drownings, destruction, and gold when I was a kid. I’ve also been awed by the power and beauty of Clutha/Mata-au in its natural state, with its swift and churning blue-green waters. Only slightly shorter than the much vaunted and chronicled Waikato, it carries more than double that river’s water volume. I now live close to Clutha/Mata-au’s Lake Wānaka outlet and have ridden and walked all the trails that follow much of its length.


I wanted to give Clutha/Mata-au the voice it deserves. In the 1970s and 80s I was appalled at the process by which the Clyde Dam was built. The government trampled not only on livelihoods and ecosystems, but on democracy and due legal process. While mainly intended to be an accessible and readable history, the book will hopefully also serve to remind readers of the lessons and dangers of unfettered industrialisation, the need to hold power to account and to cherish our waterways.


Oturehua and the Ida Valley is an ideal setting for writing, a perfect blend of quietude and natural beauty, with its sunlit uplands, big skies, and mountain backdrops. Nearing the end of a busy and often stressful engineering career I have enjoyed the gentler pace of life and simple pleasures here, such as stacking firewood, walking on the Rail Trail, having a pint of Speights at a genuine local’s pub, or, in Brian Turner’s matchless words, ‘to feel the deep slow surge of the hills.’


For me the residency was all about kick-starting the Clutha/Mata-au book and helping me transition from engineering to writing. With the gift of time and solitude to write, it has achieved that and more. It has also been a privilege to be part, for a short time, of the wonderful writing community that has been drawn to this village.

Wayne Martin.jpg

Lynn Davidson


“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


When, in my project summary, I described what I hoped to achieve during my time as the 2023 Mike Riddell Writer in Residence, I said that I expected the landscape of Ōtūrēhua would enter my work in ways I couldn’t yet articulate, and would shape what I wrote there. I’m not sure I can yet articulate the many ways in which that remarkable landscape entered my mind and imagination, but I know it was profound. I know it has, and will continue to shape the work I am doing on my essay and poetry collection, The Stammer. At the heart of the collection is a focus on poetic repetition and the idea of a call to community – including the community of poets and readers – and to the land. It was inspiring then to be living in a community of writers who are deeply involved with and influenced by the land. As Brian Turner wrote, “You have to be here”, and I was there in that land, for six weeks in which I began to feel something of what the land has to show us, including “the cloak of before, the wrench / of beyond”.


During the residency I spent time re-reading my essay collection to date to see if what I hoped was there, was there. I came away from that exercise feeling that I was heading in the right direction. I re-ordered the collection, noticing how the essays called to each other, and what placement was most impactful and resonant. I thought about what was missing. I thought about what interested me that I hadn’t yet put into words. I wrote notes for two essays and wrote one essay about the Cornish poet Charles Causley and the New Zealand poet Bill Manhire, including how one of Manhire’s poem calls back to and uses language from a Causley poem. I wrote some poems that I have hopes for. I also spent time doing some tweaks on my memoir after receiving the readers’ reports. I am so very grateful for the space and time to do this work, and for the generous stipend that allowed me to forget about money while I was there.


During my time in the Ida Valley I kept a journal, which I always do. Not necessarily a daily journal, but a several-times-a-week journal where I note down my experience of things, and what I notice. I walked every day, along the rail trail one way or another, in snow, in frost, in winter sunshine, looking at the surrounding ranges and thinking about slow time, geological time, and the sense I had of personally slowing down to absorb it all – the austere beauty of Aotearoa New Zealand’s highlands.


Towards the end of the residency I ran a writing workshop for the writers and trustees as a way to say thank you for this opportunity. People arrived with the usual generous offerings of food, there was a snow fall, and the promise of a power outage that didn’t happen, and some beautiful writing.


Trustees and other Ōtūrēhua residents invited me into their homes, drove me to spectacular places, invited me to pot luck dinners and to a Matariki ceremony. The residency offered the perfect balance of connection with the local writers and time alone to do my work. I appreciate how sensitive the community was to both of those aspects. I can only make two suggestions, and I have mentioned them already, but an office chair would be a really useful addition to the house, along with a heater for the bedroom.


While I was at the residency I received an invitation to do a session on my memoir Do you still have time for chaos? at the Writers and Readers Week during the Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts in February next year. If any of you are in Wellington for the festival, it would be lovely to see you there.


When The Stammer is published I will, of course, acknowledge the Mike Riddell Writer's Residency. I will let you know when it is being launched in case you can attend, and will send you a copy for the house. And in terms of the house, many thanks to Jenny Beck for the generous gift of her home which housed me so comfortably during my stay.


It was a privilege to be one of the writers for the 2023 Mike Riddell Writer's Residency.


Ngā mihi nui,


Lynn Davidson

Lynn Davidson.jpg

2022: Inaugural residents Tim Higham and Rhian Gallagher

bottom of page