The late novelist OE (Ted) Middleton and poet Peter Olds were celebrated at the unveiling of an official plaque at Dunedin Library on Friday afternoon.
Director of Dunedin, Unesco City of Literature, Nicky Page, called the gathering of family and friends “heartwarming, heartfelt and actually very moving”.
“I know everyone in the room feels exactly the same.”
Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins said the Writers’ Walk through the Octagon celebrating the city’s great writers was an ever-present reminder of why the city was designated by Unesco as a City of Literature.
It had also started discussions in the city about who was included and who was visible in their absence, he said.
“Lately, largely driven by the community, some of these glaring omissions are being addressed,” Hawkins said.
The two writers honored yesterday were lured to the city by the University of Otago’s Robert Burns Fellowship and ended up staying and becoming part of the city’s cultural fabric, Mr Hawkins said.
Cynthia Greensill read an excerpt from a story by her late partner, Middleton.
He would have been very happy for his inclusion in the writers’ walk, she said.
“It’s great that his plaque is next to old friends,” she said. “It looks like a gathering of people enjoying each other’s company.”
Cold Hub Press editor Roger Hickin said the two writers shared a fundamental authenticity.
“Many of Ted’s stories grew out of his lived experience while many of Peter’s poems are a living record of what he did and saw,” Mr Hickin said.
He said there were few writers more deserving of a plaque in the Writers’ Walk than Olds, who had written in and about Dunedin for more than 50 years.
“He’s the unofficial Poet Laureate of Dunedin,” he said.