Samesame but different, Aotearoa New Zealand’s first LGBTQI+ Writers Festival, was launched by the writer Peter Wells in 2016. Peter’s goal was for the festival to be “an exciting event that makes people think about sexuality, difference and community, stretches their understanding, gives them a few laughs and creates a slightly magic space for two days in February.”

Since Peter’s death in 2018, samesame but different has been run by an energetic group of volunteers who have continued the festival’s tradition of bold events, strong attendance and stimulating conversations.

As well as providing a platform to amplify the voices of LGBTQI+ writers, we use our funding to pay all the writers and moderators who participate in our discussions.

Founder Founder

Peter Wells founded the Same Same But Different LGBTQI Writers Festival in 2015, having already co-created the Auckland Writers Festival in 1999. An award-winning author and film-maker, Peter consistently broken barriers in both publishing (his collection of short stories, Dangerous Desires, was the first gay-themed book to be published in New Zealand under the author’s own name) and film (Jewel’s Darl showed transgender characters in a sympathetic light as early as 1986). His subsequent writing career embraced both fiction and New Zealand history, and he received many accolades for his work in both areas. In 2018 Unity Books gave Peter Wells a $20,000 award for his ‘body of work but also his long-spansocial justice activism … His strong sense of social justice combined with his literary achievements has nourished, sustained and encouraged readers in Aotearoa.’ On being told he had cancer in 2017, he chronicled his experience of living with the disease in a series of Facebook posts which he later turned into his last book, Hello Darkness, published shortly before his death in 2019.

BOARD Members Board Members

Simie Simpson

​Simie Simpson (Te Ati Awa) is interested in spaces that allow people and books to connect. She believes in the transformative power of books and the importance of seeing yourself reflected in the books you read. Simie has many years of working in the book trade, cutting her teeth as a bookseller at Unity Books, and working as a rep and then NZ sales manager for Walker Books. Currently she is enjoying the role of librarian in the beautiful Kaipara and reviewing books for Magpies, Sapling, and the Paparoa Press. Simie was a judge for the NZ Children Book Awards in 2019 and the NZ Booksellers Industry Awards 2019. After being a participant and volunteer of same same, and an admirer of the unique place it holds in the queer, literary scene she is keen to be a part of the future of this festival.

Michael Giacon

Board Member
​Michael Giacon is a poet, songwriter and performer. Born and raised in Auckland, he is from a large Pakeha-Italian family. In 2016 he graduated with a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the Auckland University of Technology, and the same year won the Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems. He has been published in brief, A Fine Line, Fast Fibres, and Fresh Ink. Michael is a founding member of the Isthmus Poets with other AUT MCW alumni. They have produced a chapbook, Cityscapes, through GMTpress.

Joanne Drayton

Board Member
Joanne Drayton is an acclaimed New Zealand author whose output is globally recognized as being of the highest caliber. Her book The Search for Anne Perry was numbered in the top 10 non-fiction books on the New York Times bestseller list in 2015. It was a finalist in the prestigious New Zealand Book Awards in August 2013; it was the subject of a 60 Minutes programme; and a cover story for the NZ Listener. Her critically acclaimed Ngaio Marsh: Her Life in Crime (2008) was a Christmas pick of the Independent newspaper when it was released in the UK in 2009. The subjects of her other biographies include Frances Hodgkins, Rhona Haszard and Edith Collier. She has curated exhibitions and publishes in art history and theory. In 2007, she was awarded a National Library Fellowship, and in 2017 a prestigious Logan Fellowship at the Carey Institute in upstate New York. See Joanne as an Author

Ian Watt

Board Member
Ian Watt was born in Warkworth and raised in Auckland. After completing an MA in English Language and Literature at the University of Auckland, he travelled to the United Kingdom where he initially worked at Decca Records before finding his true niche as a book editor and publisher. He worked in London at Thames & Hudson, SPCK and the Royal Society of Arts before returning to New Zealand, where he became the Managing Editor at Reed Publishing. There, for the first time in New Zealand, he published openly gay works of fiction by Peter Wells, Witi Ihimaera and Robert Leek. After a stint as publisher at HarperCollins, he abandoned the multinational publishing machine to become a freelance editor and publisher for Exisle Publishing. Following his retirement, he is now turning his hand to writing his own books. See Ian as an Author