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Christchurch celebrates Courage Day

12 November 2008

Courage Day will be celebrated this Saturday 15 at the Christchurch Art Gallery.

November 15 marks the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer and the international writers’ organisation (PEN) celebrates this day with events held internationally.

The New Zealand Society of Authors which incorporates PEN recognises freedom of expression and honours this day as Courage Day.

Courage Day will be marked in Christchurch by a free screening of An Independent Mind at the Philip Carter Family Auditorium at 1.30 pm.

An Independent Mind features the stories of free speech heroes from around the world asserting their rights to express themselves.

New Zealand Society of Authors’ Canterbury Branch President Heather Hapeta, says it is important to recognise these historical moments.

“This New Zealand name of Courage is also appropriate because of the bravery required by those authors who face opposition in its many forms,” she said.

Courage Day was named jointly after James Courage, a novelist and poet whose novel A way of love was banned because he dared to express homosexuality in his writing prior to the setting up of the Indecent Publications Tribunal in 1964.

James’ grandmother Sarah Courage, whose book describing colonial life in New Zealand, was burnt by neighbours who resented comments she made about them. 

James Courage went to school in Christchurch and has a plaque on the Writers' Trail outside Christ's College.

Sponsored by Christchurch City Libraries, this documentary will show at the Christchurch Art Gallery on 15 November at 1.30 pm.

Leading up to Courage Day, on Thursday 13 November at 1.30 pm, yellow ribbons bearing the names of 60 journalists killed last year will be attached to the Amnesty International Tree in the reserve on the corner of Kilmore And Madras Streets.

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