‘Urgently Relevant’ Novel Wins Country’s Richest Literary Award
Dame Fiona Kidman has won this year’s $53,000 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for her novel, This Mortal Boy, a work described by the judges as ‘moving, memorable, authentic and urgently relevant to our times.’
The book published by Penguin Random House received the honour ahead of a strong line-up of finalists comprising Lloyd Jones (The Cage), Kate Duignan (The New Ships) and Vincent O’Sullivan (All This by Chance) at the Auckland Writers Festival marquee event held in the Aotea Centre this evening.
“In This Mortal Boy, Fiona Kidman has written an intensely human and empathetic story, recreating the events leading to the real life hanging of ’jukebox killer‘ Paddy Black at Mount Eden prison in 1955.
“With seeming effortlessness, she pulls the reader into mid-century New Zealand – the restlessness of a new urban youth culture, the moral panic that led to the Mazengarb report, the damning assumptions of the legal profession and the unchallenged omissions that eased the pathway to a young man’s death,” said this year’s fiction category judges.
New York Times best-selling author and academic Joanne Drayton won the Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction for Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love (Otago University Press).
The category judges said Hudson & Halls is not simply the story of celebrity chefs: “It is a generous, multi-layered, and touching account of companionship and enduring love.
“Set against the backdrop of the double act many of us will remember, Hudson & Halls reveals the humour and drama of this couple’s onscreen chemistry, and is a deeply moving and often surprising account of their private life. Set within the context of significant social and political moments over four decades and three countries, Joanne Drayton’s fresh approach to storytelling makes this a must-read.”
Helen Heath won the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry for her collection Are Friends Electric? (Victoria University Press).
“By turns thoughtful and moving, Are Friends Electric? asks how the material world might mediate—or replace—human relationships.
“Helen Heath’s collection impressed the judging panel with its broad thematic reach, its willingness to tackle complex issues, and its poetic risk-taking,” said the judges.
Senior curator Sean Mallon and French ethnologist Sébastien Galliot took the Illustrated Non-Fiction category for their work Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing (Te Papa Press).
The book which traces the art form from 3,000 years ago to the present day is described by judges as a visual feast.
“…quality design is met with innovative writing that both records and opens up new territory, creating a book that will expand and enrich the knowledge of readers throughout Aotearoa, the Moana Pacific and beyond. Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing celebrates the tactile pleasure of a book in the hand, and should be acknowledged as a milestone in contemporary publishing.”
Te Mūrau o te Tuhi, a discretionary Māori Language Award, was presented this year for the landmark work He Kupu Tuku Iho: Ko te Reo Māori te Tatau ki te Ao by pioneering language and tikanga academics Sir Tīmoti Kāretu and the late Dr Wharehuia Milroy published by Auckland University Press.
Te Reo Māori judge Dr Ruakere Hond acknowledged the very recent passing of Dr Milroy in announcing the award.
“He tai mutunga kore te ranga whai reo e āki kau ana ki te aroaro o te tokorua kātuarehe, ngā ruānuku o te reo o nehe, ki nāianei rangi. He whāiti taua urunga, engari i konei ka wherawhera mai. He maioha tēnei nā Tīmoti Kāretu rāua ko Te Wharehuia Milroy, kia hou mai te tāura ki waenga pū i ā rāua kōrerorero, he kōrero paki, he hokinga mahara o te ohinga, ā, pakeke noa. He puanga rautangi ki te hauangi. Kapohia e te tini. He tatau e puare ana i tō rāua ao.
“Staunch advocates of our spoken reo have relentlessly sought to sit down with these two most influential exponents of reo Māori, from the past and for today. Few have had the opportunity; this book now opens that door. Tīmoti Kāretu and the late Wharehuia Milroy invite the reader into their conversations, their yarns and musings from decades of cultural experience. This book’s value is undeniable. Its language, accessible. This is a doorway to their world,” said Dr Hond.
The General Non-Fiction, Poetry, Illustrated Non-Fiction category and Māori Language Award winners each took home a $10,000 prize.
Four MitoQ Best First Book Awards were also presented at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.
The Hubert Church Prize for a best first book of Fiction went to Kirsten Warner for The Sound of Breaking Glass (Mākaro Press).
The E.H. McCormick Prize for a best first work of General Non-Fiction was presented to Chessie Henry for We Can Make a Life (Victoria University Press).
The Jessie Mackay Prize for a best first book of Poetry was awarded to Tayi Tibble for Poūkahangatus (Victoria University Press).
The Judith Binney Prize for a best first work of Illustrated Non-Fiction went to John Reid for Whatever It Takes: Pacific Films and John O’Shea 1948-2000 (Victoria University Press).
Each MitoQ Best First Book Award winner received $2500.
The 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards judges were:
Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize: journalist, reviewer and editor Sally Blundell; author and programme director of WORD Christchurch Rachael King; novelist, short story writer and lecturer James George (Ngāpuhi) and award-winning New York-based novelist Joseph O’Neill who assisted the three New Zealand judges to select this year’s Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize winner.
Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction: science writer Rebecca Priestley, Associate Professor at Victoria University of Wellington; award-winning historian and University of Otago academic Angela Wanhalla and curator, educator and writer Karl Chitham (Ngāpuhi), new director of the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt.
Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry: creative writing teacher Airini Beautrais; Massey University Professor Bryan Walpert and Pasifika poet Karlo Mila who runs an indigenous leadership programme.
Illustrated Non-Fiction category: Well-known writer, curator and commentator on all aspects of architecture, design and art Douglas Lloyd Jenkins; curator at Dunedin Public Art Gallery Lucy Hammonds and experienced bookseller Bruce Caddy.
Award-winning writer Paula Morris of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, which governs the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, says in a highly competitive year of groundbreaking, compelling books, it is heartening to welcome two new sponsors.
“Peter and Mary Biggs, long-time arts supporters in New Zealand, are now sponsoring our poetry prize, and the innovators of MitoQ are backing our first book winners. Their commitment speaks to the vitality and mana of our writers, artists and publishers,” says Ms Morris.
The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New Zealand, the Acorn Foundation, the Royal Society Te Apārangi, Mary and Peter Biggs CNZM, MitoQ and the Auckland Writers Festival.
For winners’ images: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/wqznczvyv4077z0/AAAHfEeyCzQ7WuO3dJAkmBRba?dl=0
For winning book covers: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/36wkvug4i87y0l9/AADzWMd7HsvJTC1LRvLCjYRwa?dl=0
Winners’ banner images
- Media are welcome to attend The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Ceremony at the Auckland Writers Festival on Tuesday 14 May, 7.00pm – 8.45pm ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre.
- Winners are available for interview
- Judges are available for interview
- Winning books are available for review
- Author images and book jacket images are available
To register your interest in attending the ceremony, please contact: Penny Hartill – director hPR, 021 721 424, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are the country’s premier literary honours for books written by New Zealanders. First established in 1968 as the Wattie Book Awards (later the Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Awards), they have also been known as the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and the New Zealand Post Book Awards. Awards are given for Fiction (the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize), General Non-Fiction (the Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction), Illustrated Non-Fiction and Poetry (the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry). There are also four awards for first-time authors (The MitoQ Best First Book Awards) and, at the judges’ discretion, Te Mūrau o te Tuhi a Māori Language Award. The awards are governed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust (a registered charity). Current members of the Trust are Nicola Legat, Karen Ferns, Paula Morris, Catherine Robertson, Jenna Todd, David Bowles, Pene Walsh and Melanee Winder. The Trust also governs the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day.
Ockham Residential is Auckland’s most progressive developer. By creating apartments that are well-designed, made with quality materials and are well-loved by the community, Ockham is committed to shaping a built environment that reflects Auckland as a world-class city, the grandeur of its landscapes and the ideas of its people. Founded in 2009 by Aucklanders Mark Todd and Benjamin Preston, Ockham also aims to enhance the community through sponsorship of the arts. The principal sponsor of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, the company announced at the 2018 ceremony that it would continue its support for a further 5 years. Ockham is also a proud supporter of architecture and the visual arts as the lead partner of Objectspace.
The Acorn Foundation is a community foundation based in the Western Bay of Plenty, which encourages people to leave a gift in their wills and/or their lifetimes to support their local community forever. Donations are pooled and invested, and the investment income is used to make donations to local charities, in accordance with the donors’ wishes. The capital remains intact. Since it was established in 2003, Acorn has distributed over $4.6 million. Donors may choose which organisations are to benefit each year, or they may decide to leave it to the trustees’ discretion. Community foundations are the fastest growing form of philanthropy worldwide, and there are now 15 throughout New Zealand, with more in the early stages. The Fiction Prize has been provided through the generosity of one of the Foundation’s donors, and will be awarded to the top fiction work each year, in perpetuity. Its base figure of $50,000 will be adjusted each year, to reflect wage inflation.
Royal Society Te Apārangi is an independent not-for-profit organisation that supports all New Zealanders to explore, discover and share knowledge. Its varied programmes provide funding and learning opportunities for researchers, teachers, school students, together with those who are simply curious about the world. To celebrate the discoveries of New Zealand researchers, the Society awards medals and elects Fellows, who are leaders in their fields. These experts help the Society to provide independent advice to New Zealanders and the government on issues of public concern. The Society has a broad network of members and friends around New Zealand and invites all those who value the work New Zealanders do in exploring, discovering and sharing knowledge to join with them.
Creative New Zealand has been a sustaining partner of New Zealand’s book awards for decades. Creative New Zealand encourages, promotes and supports the arts in New Zealand for the benefit of all New Zealanders through funding, capability building, an international programme, and advocacy. It offers financial support for emerging and established artists, art practitioners, groups and organisations, and provides training and online resources to help artists and practitioners develop professionally, grow audiences and markets, and manage their organisations. It also supports internships and national touring to help develop New Zealand arts. Creative New Zealand provides a wide range of support to New Zealand literature, including funding for writers and publishers, residencies, literary festivals and awards, and supports organisations which work to increase the readership and sales of New Zealand literature at home and internationally.
MitoQ is one of New Zealand’s newest global success stories. Founded on breakthrough cellular research undertaken at Otago University, MitoQ® is the only product to directly target the mitochondria. Over 300 reviews and studies have to date been published around the positive effects of MitoQ® on health. MitoQ’s success has placed the company in the exciting position of being able to put back into its communities through sponsorship, particularly in the arts, which it sees as essential to the wellbeing of society. The company is delighted to support the enrichment of New Zealand literature through the MitoQ Best First Book awards.
Mary and Peter Biggs CNZM are long-time arts advocates and patrons – particularly of literature and theatre. They have funded the Biggs Family Prize in Poetry at Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters since 2006, along with the Alex Scobie Research Prize in Classical Studies, Latin and Greek. They have been consistent supporters of the International Festival of the Arts, the Auckland Writers Festival, Wellington’s Circa Theatre, the New Zealand Arts Foundation, Featherston Booktown, the New Zealand Book Council, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Featherston Sculpture Trust and the Kokomai Arts Festival in the Wairarapa. Peter was Chair of Creative New Zealand from 1999 to 2006. He led the Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce in 2010 and the New Zealand Professional Orchestra Sector Review in 2012. Peter was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for arts governance and philanthropy in 2013.
The Auckland Writers Festival is the largest literary event in New Zealand and the largest presenter of New Zealand literature in the world. Now in its 19th year, it hosts more than 200 local and international writers for seven days of discussion, conversation, reading, debate, performance, schools, family and free events ranging across fiction, non-fiction, poetry, music, theatre, culture, art and more. Festival attendance in 2018 exceeded 74,000.