Tāhuna is an annual Writers Residency based in Queenstown, Aotearoa.
Founded by Great Southern
Tāhuna empowers ambitious screenwriters to develop uniquely New Zealand television dramas that can be taken to the world.
Tāhuna is about the exciting new voices of Aotearoa. We look for unique, modern and innovative writers to participate in this 4-week residency and writing sabbatical, with the intention of challenging, mentoring and growing creatives; empowering them to take their stories to the world.
With the support of the Queenstown Lakes District Council, we select a minimum of four writers to be brought to Queenstown for a month-long residency. Travel, accommodation and a small living allowance will be covered. During this four week period, writers are taken on a familiarisation tour of the region, hear presentations from leading screen practitioners, writers, directors, producers, domestic and international broadcasters, and work closely with mentors. In past retreats, practitioners have included: representatives from AMC, Lionsgate, SKY, TVNZ, Discovery, and internationally celebrated creatives such as Desray Armstrong, Hanelle Harris, Gavin Strawhan, Shoshanna McCallum and Emily Anderton.
At the end of the month-long period, writers will pitch a concept for an original television drama - with international appeal - to be filmed in the Queenstown Lakes District. Great Southern Television will have the first right to option chosen concepts and commission a pilot script. All intellectual property will remain with the writer.
“The opportunity to get to know other writers at a similar level intimately instead of competing against them for an application was so refreshing. I now have three new wonderfully talented friends who I hope to collaborate with in the future.”
“Being paired with a mentor who was outside of the experience was immensely helpful. My mentor was generous, idea provoking and provided the exact positive reassurance I needed at various points during the residency to guide me onwards.
“I can’t put into words how refreshing and creatively fulfilling this feeling of trust and support throughout the residency has been for me and the creation of this new concept for a series.”
“We felt as though we were in the hands of people who respected the mystery and flow of the creative process, given space and time and room to breathe where necessary, but also fed endless inspiration in the form of tours, illuminating talks, experiences and bonding time with our fellow writers.”
“At this writing retreat though, we were made to feel like our voices were being heard & that is so crucial.”
“There are places that are untouched down there [Queenstown] – that in itself makes it an even better place to start a story from scratch.”
“This initiative was put together by creatives who cared about the process and you could tell — we were given spaces in which to dream, wonder, play, and smash our heads against the wall: a home away from home.”
“What matters most to me is the relationships I’ve formed, the people I’ve met, and the stories I’ve heard, which I’m sure will come back to me again and again in the years of my career, knock on wood, to come.”
“Tāhuna was like a dream come true, a retreat that offered a beautiful, peaceful and inspiring environment, where I could surround myself with like-minded individuals and deep dive into my imagination without the pressure of “Mum life”.
“[The retreat] was like being transported into an alternate dimension where my career had taken off, and I’d become successful beyond my wildest dreams. The idea of actually making a living writing suddenly seemed a bit less unrealistic.”
“The chats with international agents, distributors, and production types were especially illuminating. It’s rare to get an opportunity for a candid chat with people in those kind of roles, and the information they had on the international TV landscape was invaluable.”
“I loved and appreciated the time needed to wander purposefully with ideas, to explore what directions my interests were pulling me. Queenstown and the surrounding towns, are beautiful, dramatic and rich with texture and quirks that made me invigorated to be creative.”
“I’m the kind of writer who greatly benefits from being in the midst of something, be it a location or a job or an experience, and having the opportunity to really establish a routine and live in Queenstown for myself was really invaluable.”