Meet the 2024 Emerging Writers Table

Becky Button

Becky (Ngāti Porou, Ngāi Tūhoe, Pākehā) is a writer, storyliner and actor originally from Ōtautahi/Christchurch. She has a bachelor of performing arts in Musical Theatre from the National Academy of Singing and Dramatic Arts. After studying, she embarked on a career in the tv and film industry and discovered her love for writing while working on Ahikāroa (Kura Productions). She has worked in a variety of roles on and off-screen in shows including Shortland Street, The Brokenwood Mysteries, Te Pāmu Kūmara, and The Convert. She is passionate about telling kiwi stories that amplify te reo māori and challenge predispositions. Currently living in Whangaparāoa with her husband and daughter, she is excited to be returning to her roots in theatre; what does a musical in Aotearoa sound like and where does that fit on the international stage?

Uhyoung Choi

Uhyoung Choi is a Korean New Zealander, game developer, actor, and aspiring playwright.

After leaving his legal career, he is emboldened to create, share and uplift Asian stories.

In particular, he is fascinated by the unique experiences and struggles that come with navigating the New Zealand legal labyrinth. 

Alex de Vries

Alex de Vries (adv) is an Afro-Kiwi writer, director, producer and musician. He has his Masters in Creative Practice from Unitec, and received the coveted Bold Innovators Scholarship. He is the writer, co-director and executive producer of his own audiovisual album, Trust Issues. He was awarded Best Student Short Screenplay at the Vision Feast Film Festival for his screenplay Coloured Less. His first play Of Ghosts And Men was developed through Black Creatives Aotearoa’s Playwrights Lab. His most recent work, What Happened On The Day We Finally Broke Ground On The Second Harbour Crossing On The Shores Of The Waitematā, was developed as part of ATC Youth Company’s Future Tense anthology, performed at Basement Theatre in 2023. 

Abby Irwin-Jones

Abby Irwin-Jones (she/her) is a writer and editor from Tāmaki-Makaurau. As a spoken word poet, she has been performing for ten years and has competed on national and international stages; A Trans-Tasman Poetry Slam champion, Word Up! Champion, and Going West Festival Slam runner-up. She is currently a producer for the New Zealand National Poetry Slam and a coach for the youth poetry programme Word - The Front Line. Her poetry is published in print in Rapture (Auckland University Press).

Abby’s work as a student journalist has been published in Ensemble, The Spinoff, and Stuff. Her coverage as Arts & Culture Editor for Craccum landed her two Aotearoa Student Press Association Awards in 2023.

Abby is currently developing her first play.

Te Huamanuka Luiten-Apirana

Writer/ Actor/ Artist Te Huamanuka Luiten-Apirana (Ngāti Hikairo, Ngāti Manunui) is an emerging Māori creative who writes for stage, screen and her own music. 

She was the recipient of Playmarket's B425 Award for her play Lip Sync, Kanikani, Twerk Off! and also received the Creative New Zealand's Ngā Manu Pīrere Award in 2021.

Leroy Nurkka

Leroy completed a BA with Honours in Film, Art History, and Theatre at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington, with a special focus on Indigenous art and film, phenomenology, and environmentalism. He has spent time as a photography tutor and practices his painting and music in his free time. As a playwright, he is concerned with the potential of magic-realism in theatre, reigning in a broad range of influences from local and international theatre, film, literature, and art. The foremost of these include Tennessee Williams, David Lynch, Patricia Grace, and Joni Mitchell. Growing up in Rotorua, he currently resides in Te Whanganui-a-Tara where he frequents the city's cafés and galleries.

Leilani Tamu

Born in Tamaki Makaurau, under the shelter of Maungakiekie, Leilani Tamu is a descendant of Te Moana nui a Kiwa (Samoa & Tonga). While she has been widely published as a poet, book reviewer, and social commentator (and even stood for Parliament!), Tamu's pivot to theatre marks a natural evolution in her creative writing practice.

Reflecting on her desire to become a playwright, Leilani said that she finds the prospect enticing "because of the terrifying beauty of stepping into a process that requires courage, collaboration and trust, especially as I push myself into unknown and, often, tapu spaces that require deep reverence." As a participant in Auckland Theatre Company's 2024 Emerging Writers Programme, Leilani will be focused on developing a script informed by the life of her German Samoan ancestor who was assigned the status of Alien Enemy in NZ during WWII. 

Luka Wolfgram

Luka Te-Ngere Wolfgram is a Māori/Serbian writer, actor and performer born and raised in Tamaki Makaurau. Her love for storytelling began from making short films as a young girl teen, which were entered into numerous youth organisations, such as the outlook for someday and Māoriland’s rangatahi film festival. This will be her first time writing a full-length play. As a theatre maker she has worked with red leap and ATC’s youth company, while on screen she was part of the season 2 cast of the Emmy award-winning series Rūrangi.

Nuanzhi Zheng 郑暖之

Nuanzhi Zheng 郑暖之 is a multi-disciplinary artist who works with themes of feminism, existentialism, race and queer theory. A graduate of Elam (BFA (First Class Hons)), her practice expands across theatre, video, performance and craft. Her most recent plays include Chick Habit (2023), Evening! with Jimmy Applause (2021) and Yang/Young/ (with Sherry Zhang, 2021), and has shown at Gus Fisher Gallery and UXBRIDGE Arts & Culture. She lives in Tāmaki Makaurau and is a Shanghai gal in her bones.

Dan Goodwin, Programme Coordinator

Hailing from Fife, Scotland, Dan Goodwin (they/them) is a Scottish-Pākeha performance poet, writer, and dramaturg currently living in Tāmaki-makau-rau.  

In 2016, they completed their Masters of Text and Performance at Birkbeck, University of London, and RADA, before returning to Aotearoa. Their work seeks to fuse poetry and theatre forms, with a focus on queer identity, mental health, and accessibility in form and content. 

They are the 2021 New Zealand National and Auckland Regional slam Champion. In 2023, they completed their final year of study to become an NZSL interpreter, which they are currently incorporating into their freelance work. Their most recent show Chrome Dome and Schizo was performed to sell out crowds in 2022, and is set for a return season in 2024, and their performance poetry has been performed across multiple outlets such as RE: news, TVNZ, Auckland Pride Gala, Cabaret Festival, London’s Bloomsbury festival, NZ Young Writers Festival, and the Auckland Writers Festival. 

Their last work alongside ATC Youth Company was as dramaturg for Future-tense, an anthology of six new plays curated by Keagan Carr-Fransch, and they couldn’t be more excited to be stepping into this new project alongside the playwrights of the first ever Emerging Writers Table!