The University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children's Writer in Residence

The University of Otago is the only tertiary institute in New Zealand which offers a residency for a children's writer. Begun by the Dunedin College of Education in 1992, it allows writers to work full time in a compatible environment among colleagues who are concerned with the teaching of reading and literature to children. Remuneration of $28,000 is jointly funded by the University and Creative New Zealand.

The residency is open to established children's writers who are normally resident in New Zealand. The annual residency is for a six month period between February and August and includes an office within the College.

The residency is offered in association with the Robert Lord Trust which provides rent-free accommodation to writers in the historic Titan Street cottage bequeathed by the late playwright Robert Lord.

Go to more information about the Robert Lord Cottage residency.

Previous Fellowship recipients since 2008

All previous Fellowship recipients

A list of all the previous Fellowship recipients since the fellowship was established

Swapna Haddow image

Swapna Haddow

University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children's Writer in Residence 2022

Prolific author of children’s literature Swapna Haddow is the University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence.

Haddow’s titles have been released through premier New Zealand and international publishers, including Pan MacMillan, Faber and Faber, and Oxford University Press.

Often writing under the pseudonym ‘Swapna Reddy’, she has continued a high tempo of output, with six books released in 2020 and eight in 2021. One of her latest works, My Dad is a Grizzly Bear, illustrated by Dapo Adeola, was the Independent’s Children’s Book of the Week (April 2021), Hive’s Children’s Book of the Month (May 2021), and one of The Guardian Children’s Books of the Month (May 2021).

During the Fellowship Haddow plans to write an “action-packed heist, full of humour, aimed at middle-grade readers.”

“Inspired by my recent Storylines tour, the story will be set in Auckland and feature a diverse cast, with strong themes of friendship and sisterhood. It’ll be my biggest project to date, so I am glad that with the Fellowship I will have space to research, the time to invest in my characters and the support to write a thought-provoking story.”

The book will highlight aspects of Indian culture and feature humour and female protagonists that will resonate with young people and diverse groups in Aotearoa, and internationally.

Haddow is looking forward to having the time and space to concentrate on writing a book she is “deeply passionate about.”

“I have been writing professionally for the best part of a decade and I recognise what a privilege it is to have the financial support of the Fellowship to continue to do that. I am so grateful that in the six months I am Children’s Writer in Residence, I will be able to push my creativity and stretch my writing skills.

“I’m also excited to be an ambassador for children’s books, within a UNESCO City of Literature no less, and I hope this means meeting lots of brilliant authors and illustrators in this wonderfully creative city. The previous Fellows are all writing heroes of mine and I hope I can live up to the extremely high bar they’ve set and do the Fellowship justice.”

Otago Fellows University of Otago