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John Campbell to Uncover Hensley's Fascinating Insight into Politics & Prime Ministers

Leading broadcaster John Campbell (pictured) will interview one of New Zealand’s most distinguished public servants, Gerald Hensley, during next month’s Featherston Booktown, a three-day literary festival celebrating everything to do with books and reading.

In conversation with Campbell, Hensley will describe fascinating encounters with world leaders and explore memories of the personalities of former New Zealand Prime Ministers. At the event, to be held at the Featherston RSA on Saturday, 12th May, the interview will trace Hensley’s career which began in 1958 when he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served in Samoa before holding positions at the United Nations, in Washington DC and in 1976 when he was High Commissioner in Singapore. In 1980 he became Head of the Prime Minister's Department where he served under both the Muldoon and Lange governments before serving as Coordinator of Domestic and External Security and as Secretary of Defence. After retirement in 1999, Hensley published three books on New Zealand's diplomatic history, including 'Final Approaches', a volume of memoirs. He now grows wine in Martinborough.

This will be one of two events that Campbell is involved in – the other being True Stories (Told Live) which he is compering and will be the first time it is held in the Wairarapa. Brought to the region by the New Zealand Book Council, True Stories (Told Live) is tipped to be exhilarating and entertaining, featuring six guests who will entertain audiences with surprising, dramatic, funny, frightening and moving true stories.

Featherston Booktown’s storytellers, who have eight minutes each to speak on a theme, include Catherine Robertson, best-selling novelist, reviewer and commentator; Tom Scott, satirist, cartoonist, playwright, author; Emily Writes, popular writer, reviewer and blogger; Chris Tse, poet, blogger, actor; Victor Rodger, playwright, provocateur, actor and Paul Adamson, writer, hunter, fisher and teacher.

True Stories (Told Live) will be held on Saturday 12th May at The Royal Hotel in Featherston.

These two events will formally be unveiled during tomorrow night’s official programme launch for the fourth annual Featherston Booktown.

This year’s literary celebration features 25 events and will kick-off with the popular Featherston Booktown Fish ‘n’ Chip Supper on May 11th at ‘Rose & Smith’ at the Tauherenikau Racecourse. This event includes an after-dinner speech by acclaimed writer and reviewer, Kate De Goldi who writes fiction for all ages. De Goldi has been a recipient of The Michael King Fellowship and has won the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year twice. Her most recent novel, From the Cutting Room of Barney Kettle, won the Esther Glen Medal at the 2016 NZ Children’s Book Awards. Featherston Booktown Patron, Ms Joy Cowley ONZ, world-famous children’s author and an active supporter of Featherston Booktown since its inception will also be in attendance.

Featherston Booktown Trust Chairman, Peter Biggs said the event has come a long way in its four years.

“We have secured solid financial backing from local authorities, national and local trusts and our community, both individuals and local businesses. As always, we deeply appreciate the whole-hearted support of the people of Featherston, especially our wonderful volunteers,” he said

For more information visit or email

Tickets for Booktown will be onsale via



Gerald Hensley - Presidents & Prime Ministers I Have Known

Saturday 12 May - 2.30pm to 3.30pm

RSA Hall, Fox Street, Featherston


True Stories (Told Live)

Saturday 12 May - 6.30 to 9.30pm

The Royal Hotel, Featherston


Fish ’n’ Chip Supper with Kate De Goldi

Friday 11 May - 6.30 to 10.30pm

Rose & Smith, Tauherenikau Racecourse


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