City of Literature status closer

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull (fourth from left), University of Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne (fifth from left) and members of the Unesco City of Literature bid management committee (from left) Bernie Hawke, Annie Villiers, Dr Noel Waite and Liz Knowles in the Octagon yesterday prepare to send in Dunedin's bid to gain Unesco City of Literature status. Photo by Gerard O'brien.Dunedin is a step closer to becoming New Zealand's official home of literature.

With the push of a button, Mayor Dave Cull yesterday emailed the application for the city to become a Unesco City of Literature.

If successful the bid would designate the city a literary centre, alongside Edinburgh, Melbourne, Iowa City, Dublin, Reykjavik, Norwich and Krakow. A successful bid would be a ''great marketing opportunity and a great connector'' for the city, Mr Cull said.

''There's only allowed to be one Unesco City [of Literature] per country, so it establishes Dunedin as the literary city of New Zealand,'' he said.

Dunedin's status as a City of Literature would provide another link to sister city Edinburgh, the first City of Literature, and would promote the city's ''inheritance'' of Scotland's literary tradition, he said.

''This is where the literary origins of our country, in European times, started and it's gone from there. There's no other city [in New Zealand] more appropriate.''

University of Otago vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said the status would bring benefits to the city and the university.

''It will be great marketing, but it will be more than marketing because it has teeth,'' she said.

Bid management committee spokeswoman Liz Knowles said yesterday was an ''exciting day'' for the city.

The six other Cities of Literature were ''right behind'' Dunedin's bid and had written letters of support, she said.

''Dunedin is a fantastic city for writers.

''It's a very supportive city for writers, but also for readers.

''We have a million people visit the library every year,'' Ms Knowles said.

The outcome of the bid will be announced in November.

timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

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