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NZSA Canterbury Heritage Literary Awards

By Media Releases

Last week NZSA Canterbury announced the winners, runners -up and specially commended writers who had been selected by our judges in the Heritage Literary Awards.  The competition was nation-wide and attracted entries from leading publishers and writers throughout New Zealand. All the judges – Prof Tom Brooking (nonfiction books), Fiona Farrell (novels), Owen Marshall (short prose) and Bernadette Hall (poetry) spoke of the high standard of the entries and the difficulty of making a decision.

The most popular section was for non-fiction books and there were nearly 40 of these -probably most of those that were published during the past year. The fiction category attracted around 20 entries and again they were of a high standard.

The function which was part of the Christchurch’s Heritage Week celebration was held in St Michael’s Church, a magnificent wooden building dating back to the 1870s and a very fitting venue.

Ngāi Tahu led by Sir Tipene O’Regan welcomed guests from all over New Zealand – nearly 100 attended. They also rose to celebrate the non-fiction winner Tāngāta Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu.  This is a selection of biographical studies of various members of the iwi.

As judge Tom Brooking wrote:

This is a wonderful book. The fifty lively biographies bring these tipuna vibrantly to life. The quality of the entries is consistent throughout and credit must go to the highly qualified contributors and expert editors. And what a fascinating cast occupies the pages of this exceptional biographical dictionary. They range from well-known national figures through soldiers and even singers who became popular in London, to local community leaders little known outside their often remote localities.  Despite their different lives in time and place each ancestor shared in common deep knowledge of southern Māori culture and tradition and fought long and hard to preserve it.

Helen Brown and Tarekei Norton, eds. Tāngāta Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu. Volume One. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu/Bridget Williams Books, Wellington/Christchurch.


The runner-up in this section was John Wilson with his study Local Lives: A History of Addington, Addington Neighbourhood Association/Caxton

Again the judge said:

John Wilson’s excellent suburban history of Addington is … another welcome addition to our rather sparse collection of studies of the places where the majority of people in cities live – the suburb.

The fiction prize went to Fiona Kidman for her new novel This Mortal Boy. Fiona Farrell who presented the award said that ‘it has been a real privilege to read such  a wonderful book.’  This is the story of Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’.  He, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand.

The runner us was David Hill for his Young Adult novel Finding and there was a special mention for Tree Worship by Jack Ross.

The short prose section was won by Caroline Barron of Auckland for her entry ‘Linette and Montague’. Owen Marshall said of the winner:

It has first person, present tense narration and this together with the crisp, contemporary language gives the piece pace and draws the reader in.  The story is based on the narrator’s search in Archives NZ, Auckland, for evidence of a paternal grandfather, his relationship with Linette and their illegitimate child.  The factual basis gives credibility and relevance, but the account of the search is enhanced by elements of surmise and speculation.  As well imaginative touches add to the story, as when the narrator visualises the court room scene in which Montague Stanaway is ordered to pay expenses related to the birth of his child… A balanced, impressive short piece.

The runner up was Susan Cambridge with Dea’s Story – a tale of colonial society.

The poetry section was won by Lucy D’Ath:  fight / flight.  This suggested the horrific rhythm of the Christchurch earthquakes and  the runner-up was Into the Audit  by John Ewing

 The full list of prize winners is as follows:


The winner is:    fight / flight by Lucy D’Ath

The runner-up is:  Into the Adit by John Ewen

Short Form – prose


Linette and Montague by Caroline Barron


Dea’s Story by Susan Cambridge

Non-fiction book

First Prize

Helen Brown and Takerei Norton, eds. Tāngāta Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu. Volume One. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu/Bridget Williams Books, Wellington/Christchurch, 2017. 352pp

Runner Up

John Wilson, Local Lives: A History of Addington, Addington Neighbourhood Association/Caxton, Christchurch, 2017. 320pp

Highly Commended

John Newton, Hard Frost: Structures of Feeling in New Zealand Literature 1908-1945, Victoria University Press, Wellington, 2017. 368pp

Lachy Paterson and Angela Wanhalla, He Reo Wāhine: Māori Women’s Voices from the Nineteenth Century, Auckland University Press, 2017, 372pp

Grey Ryan and Geoff Watson, Sport and the New Zealanders: A History, Auckland University Press, 2018. 390 pp.

Fiction Book

The winner is This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman. Penguin/ Random House

Runner up is Finding by David Hill Penguin/Random House

Special mention: Tree Worship by Jack Ross

I would like to thank our sponsors: the Christchurch City Council, Scorpio Books and Wily Publications Ltd.

Joy Cowley a Finalist in 2019 Mind Body Spirit Literary Awards

By Media Releases

One of New Zealand’s best-loved writers, Dame Joy Cowley is a finalist in this year’s Ashton Wylie Mind Body Spirit Literary Awards’ Book category for her non-fiction work Veil Over Light.

She joins four other authors from all over the country writing about issues as wide-ranging as global ethics, living cooperatively, mystical and shamanic practise and Māori healing wisdom.

The Awards’ convenor of judges Joan Rosier-Jones says this year’s Book category entrants were particularly strong.

“It was a difficult decision deciding on a shortlist of five from 42 book entries, many from household name writers.

“This year’s finalists were selected for their understanding of the Mind Body Spirit genre, the compelling and accessible way they each convey their stories and their books’ excellent production values. Each of these books are worthy winners and hold much wisdom for our world,” says Ms Rosier-Jones.

The 2019 Mind Body Spirit Literary Awards Book category finalists are:

Veil Over Light: Selected Spiritual Writings by Joy Cowley (FitzBeck Publishing)

Standing Upright Here: Global Ethics for the 21st Century by Gwen S Francis (Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd)

The Infinite Game by Niki Harré (Auckland University Press)

Into the World: A Handbook for Mystical and Shamanic Practise by Leila Lees (Lasavia Publishing Ltd)

He Atua Wahine at the Source of Ancient Māori Healing Wisdom in Aotearoa, New Zealand by Charlotte Mildon (Tamariki Ora Books Ltd)

A record number of 57 entries were received in this year’s Unpublished Manuscript category.

“This year’s manuscript entries were tremendously broad in their subject matter, scope and genre. We received poetry collections, memoirs, novels and academic non-fiction works. In the end the five selected works pulled us in from the start.

“Each of the five manuscript finalists are from writers that hold great promise and we sincerely hope they are published and received by a wide audience.”

The 2019 Mind Body Spirit Literary Awards Unpublished Manuscript category finalists are:

The Time Lizard’s Archaeologist by Trisha Hanifin

The Language of Yin by Gabrielle Harris

You Are Loved by Anca Sarah Joicey

Deva: The Song at the Heart of the Matter by Jacquelyn E Lane  

The Love Path by Averil Nichole Richardson

The Book category winner and the Unpublished Manuscript category winner each receive a $10,000 prize.

The awards are unique in the country for their encouragement of writing in the Mind, Body, Spirit genre. The awards were established in 1999 thanks to a bequest from the late businessman, Ashton Wylie.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Westhaven Marina, in Auckland on Friday 16 August, 2019.




By Media Releases

New Zealand’s flourishing children’s book market is in the spotlight with the release of the finalists for the 2019 PANZ Book Design Awards.

Innovative design combined with impeccable production standards made the task of whittling down a shortlist challenging for this year’s judging panel and in the end a record nine books were selected as finalists in the children’s category alone.

As well as demonstrating an impressive pool of talent in children’s books, the shortlist reflects excellence in design across all eight categories, confirming that New Zealand book design is in very good heart.

Convening judge David Coventon said: “Our four judges, from varied fields enjoyed a day of discussions and deliberation over this year’s entries. Competition categories were familiar, yet judges agreed it’s good to see a number of new names appear across the colophons and categories. Some beautiful design solutions were both discovered and discussed – with the children’s category in particular full of strong entries – the design community is clearly nurturing a support of, and strength in, the publishing industry.”

David led a four strong team of judges who represented diverse facets of the publishing and bookselling industry. Together they spent a day pouring over beautiful books to create a shortlist of 33 finalist titles.

The winners will be announced at a special ceremony in Auckland on Thursday 25 July when the Gerard Reid Award for Best Book sponsored by Nielsen Book will also be revealed.

The industry’s design talent will assemble the next day for the PANZ Book Design Workshop sponsored by Hachette New Zealand, which provides the opportunity to dissect the awards, enjoy panel sessions led by leading book designers and network with peers.

The PANZ Book Design Awards were established by the Publishers Association of New Zealand (PANZ) to promote excellence in, and provide recognition for, the best book design in New Zealand. 

The 2019 PANZ Book Design Awards Finalists are:

Penguin Random House New Zealand Award for Best Illustrated Book

As You Will: Carnegie Libraries of the South Pacific by Mickey Smith (Te Tuhi), designed by Kalee Jackson, Studio Kalee Jackson

Fiona Clark: Living With Aids 1988 by Fiona Clark (Michael Lett), designed by Arch MacDonnell & Alexandra Turner, Inhouse Design

Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing by Sean Mallon and Sébastien Galliot (Te Papa Press), designed by Arch MacDonnell, Inhouse Design

Theo Schoon: A Biography by Damian Skinner (Massey University Press), designed by Aaron McKirdy; typesetting by Kate Barraclough

Us v Them: Tony de Lautour (collector’s edition) by Peter Vangioni with Giovanni Intra, Peter Robinson, Zarah Stanhope, Lara Strongman and Alice Tappenden (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū), designed by Aaron Beehre

Wanted: The search for the modernist murals of E. Mervyn Taylor by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith (Massey University Press), designed by Anna Brown

Upstart Press Award for Best Non-Illustrated Book

Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand edited by Michelle Elvy, Frankie McMillan and James Norcliffe (Canterbury University Press), designed by Aaron Beehre

Pasture and Flock: New and Selected Poems by Anna Jackson (Auckland University Press), cover designed by Keely O’Shannessy, interior designed by Katrina Duncan

Sport and the New Zealanders: A History by Greg Ryan and Geoff Watson (Auckland University Press), cover designed by Spencer Levine, interior designed by Katrina Duncan

That Derrida Whom I Derided Died: Poems 2013–2017 by C.K Stead (Auckland University Press), cover designed by Greg Simpson, interior designed by Katrina Duncan

Wild Journeys by Bruce Ansley (HarperCollins New Zealand), designed by Julia Murray

Women, Equality, Power by Helen Clark (Allen & Unwin NZ), designed by Kate Barraclough

Scholastic New Zealand Award for Best Children’s Book

ART-TASTIC by Sarah Pepperle (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū), cover designed by Aaron Beehre, interior designed by Aaron Beehre with Raquel Joseph, Emma Kevern and Ryan Patrick

The Bomb by Sacha Cotter (Huia Publishers), designed by Te Kani Price, illustrated by Josh Morgan

Cook’s Cook: The Cook who Cooked for Captain Cook by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press), designed by Vida Kelly

Dear Donald Trump by Sophie Siers (Millwood Press), designed by Vida Kelly

I Am Jellyfish by Ruth Paul (Penguin Random House), designed by Rachel Clark with Ruth Paul

Jillion: By New Zealand’s Young Writers and Artists edited by Charlotte Gibbs, designed by Kelvin Soh and Sam Wieck, DDMMYY and Grace McFarlane and Cait Kneller, Toitoi

Kia Ora, You Can Be a Kiwi Too by June Pitman-Hayes (Scholastic NZ), designed by Minky Stapleton

Oink by David Elliot (Gecko Press) designed by Vida Kelly

Secret World of Butterflies by Courtney Sina Meredith & Giselle Clarkson (Allen & Unwin NZ), designed by Kate Barraclough, Kate Frances Design

Edify Award for Best Educational Book

Anzac Animals: 20 Animal Friends from WW1 and WW2 by Maria Gill (Scholastic NZ), designed by Vida and Luke Kelly Design

ART-TASTIC by Sarah Pepperle (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū), cover designed by Aaron Beehre, interior designed by Aaron Beehre with Raquel Joseph, Emma Kevern and Ryan Patrick

Te Kōparapara: An Introduction to the Māori World edited by Michael Reilly, Suzanne Duncan, Gianna Leoni, Lachy Paterson, Lyn Carter, Matiu Rātima and Poia Rewi (Auckland University Press), cover designed by Neil Pardington Design, interior designed by Katrina Duncan

Why is That Lake So Blue?: A Children’s Guide to New Zealand’s Natural World by Simon Pollard (Te Papa Press), designed by Kate Barraclough, Kate Frances Design

1010 Printing Award for Best Cookbook

Always Delicious Favourite recipes from the New Zealand Listener by Lauraine Jacobs (Potton & Burton), designed by Floor van Lierop, This is Them

Cuba Street: a cookbook by Liane McGee, Niki Chu and Anna Vibrandt (Fortyfive Design Limited), designed by Liane McGee, Anna Vibrandt and Niki Chu, Fortyfive Design

My Indian Kitchen by Ashia Ismail-Singer (Potton & Burton), designed by Floor van Lierop, This is Them

HarperCollins Publishers Award for Best Cover

Feverish by Gigi Fenster (Victoria University Press), designed by Keely O’Shannessy

People from the Pit Stand Up by Sam Duckor-Jones (Victoria University Press), designed by Sam Duckor-Jones

The New Ships by Kate Duignan (Victoria University Press), designed by Keely O’Shannessy

Pasture and Flock: New and Selected Poems by Anna Jackson (Auckland University Press), cover designed by Keely O’Shannessy

The Bomb by Sacha Cotter (Huia Publishers), designed by Te Kani Price, illustrated by Josh Morgan

Whatever It Takes: Pacific Films and John O’Shea 1948-2000 by John Reid (Victoria University Press), designed by Keely O’Shannessy

Wanted: The search for the modernist murals of E. Mervyn Taylor by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith (Massey University Press), designed by Anna Brown

A Tale of Three Cities by Arlette Mizrahi (RUN), designed by Laura Cibilich

Mary Egan Publishing Award for Best Typography

ART-TASTIC by Sarah Pepperle (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū), cover designed by Aaron Beehre, interior designed by Aaron Beehre with Raquel Joseph, Emma Kevern and Ryan Patrick

Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing by Sean Mallon and Sébastien Galliot (Te Papa Press), designed by Arch MacDonnell, Inhouse Design

Theo Schoon: A Biography by Damian Skinner (Massey University Press), designed by Aaron McKirdy; typesetting by Kate Barraclough

Us v Them: Tony de Lautour by Peter Vangioni with Giovanni Intra, Peter Robinson, Zarah Stanhope, Lara Strongman and Alice Tappenden (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū), designed by Aaron Beehre

Wanted: The search for the modernist murals of E. Mervyn Taylor by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith (Massey University Press), designed by Anna Brown

Swim A year of swimming outdoors in New Zealand by Annette Lees (Potton & Burton), designed by Floor van Lierop

Allen & Unwin Young Designer of the Year 2019 Shortlist

Katie Kerr for Big Ideas for Curious Minds: An Introduction to Philosophy by School of Life (Alain de Botton), Sportsman of the Year: A Suburban Philosophy by Jan Hellriegal, Make Every Day by Rebecca Commisaris, Bee Curious by Kantar & the School of Life, Dirt by Gemma Walsh & Katie Kerr.

Te Kani Price for Mataatua Wharenui by Hirini Mead, Pouroto Ngaropo, Te Onehou Phillis, Layne Harvey (Huia Publishers), Ngāti Kahu: Portrait of a Sovereign Nation by Margaret Mutu (Huia Publishers), Treasures of Tāne by Rob Tipa (Huia Publishers), Legacy by Whiti Hereaka (Huia Publishers), The Bomb/Te Pohū by Sacha Cotter (Huia Publishers)


For more info and book images please visit:

High-res images are available here

Gemma Finlay on behalf of PANZ,


A graduate of the Masters in Graphic Design at Central Saint Martins, David Coventon has over twenty-five years’ experience in London and Auckland. Co-founder of two:design London, he later went on to be course leader of the Bachelor in Graphic Design at Camberwell College. Whilst in that role he was a key member of the staff and student team that re-started the Camberwell Press. After migrating to Aotearoa in 2011, David worked as graphic designer at Auckland Museum in the Brand and Customer Engagement team for four years. But it was his ‘calling’ that saw him return to tertiary teaching in March 2018, when he took a Senior Lecturer position teaching graphic design on the Bachelor of Design — Communication Design at AUT School of Art & Design.

A freelancer based in Auckland, Jess Gommers has designed publications & exhibitions for clients throughout Australasia. She’s worked as in-house designer at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, Auckland Arts Festival and Auckland Museum. Publisher of three titles (comma dot dogma, of gorse of course & process), her design work can also be seen in two recently built & award-winning museums: Te Kōngahu – Museum of Waitangi & Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom. Most recently her work has been seen within Auckland Museum’s Volume: Making music in Aotearoa, Are we there yet?: Women and equality in New Zealand & Carried away: bags unpacked.

Kiran Dass is the book buyer for Time Out Bookstore in Mt Eden, Auckland and has thirteen years of experience in the book trade. A writer and reviewer, Kiran has covered books and music for the NZ Herald, NZ Listener, RNZ, Sunday magazine, Sunday Star-Times, Landfall, Metro, The Spinoff, Pantograph Punch and The Wire (UK), and regularly reviews books on RNZ’s Nine to Noon and Auckland’s 95bFM. Kiran is co-producer and co-host of the literary podcast Papercuts, and has chaired sessions at Auckland Writers Festival, WORD Christchurch, LitCrawl, and Hamilton Book Month.

Simon Waterfield is a designer at Lift Education, with expertise in educational and literacy design and children’s publishing. He works on the School Journal, Ready to Read, and Connected. These series allow him to collaborate with an expansive range of writers, illustrators, and photographers. Simon holds a Bachelor of Design from Wellington Polytechnic/Victoria University and has previously worked at Wellington Media Collective, Base2, and Learning Media. He’s chaired sessions with children’s book creators Oliver Jeffers and Leo Timmers and twice judged The Arts Foundation’s Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award (2015 and 2017). He’s passionate about comics, children’s publishing, and the use of design to explain the world to young, curious minds.


Thanks to our Sponsors


By Media Releases

New Zealand’s children’s publishing is in fine health. That’s the verdict of the judges for the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults after they faced the daunting challenge of whittling down a shortlist for this year’s awards.

“The quality of submissions was impressive this year,” says convenor of judges Crissi Blair. “We had serious problems selecting the finalists for each category and it was heartening to see a healthy number of submissions from mainstream, indie and self-publishers, all of which are represented in the shortlist.”

Blair also praises the depth of the subject matter amongst the finalist titles with a strong focus on books about our world and what’s happening to it. From climate change to representations of diversity, this year’s books take readers on journeys into the past, the present and the future, providing a new look at the familiar or an insightful sojourn into another time.


“The finalist books don’t underestimate what children are capable of understanding – both intellectually and emotionally,” she says.

A total of 164 entries were received for the awards this year, with 29 books making the shortlist.  The winners of each of the main six categories – Picture Book, Junior Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction, Illustration and te reo Māori – take home $7,500 and are then in the running to be named the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, with a further $7,500 prize money. In addition, the judges will award a Best First Book prize of $2,000 to a previously unpublished author or illustrator.

Building on work started last year, children were included in the judging process. Judges took a category of books into schools, where the criteria for identifying a good quality book were discussed, before students selected titles to read.

Students responded in a variety of ways including voting for their favourites (and least favourite!), writing brief reviews, allocating star ratings and discussing what they liked and disliked about the books. These results were then shared with the whole judging panel and considered when making finalist decisions.

“Including the young readers in the judging process had the dual benefit of informing the judges about children’s and teens’ opinions, but also developing the knowledge of the readers, rendering them more capable of interacting with their books in a meaningful way in the future,” says Blair, adding that the students were very honest in their appraisals.


A core aspect of the NZCYA Awards’ mission is to foster literacy and a love of reading amongst New Zealand’s children and teenagers. This is achieved through programmes like the HELL Reading Challenge, where kids receive  pizza rewards for reading, and the newly revamped Books Alive programme of events, which will see finalist authors and illustrators bring the magic of books to life at sessions for school children in Hamilton, Christchurch, Dunedin and Wellington.


Turning to those finalists, the judges were impressed with the way the entries for the Picture Book Award were simultaneously universal while being very reflective of a New Zealand childhood. The books deal with rainbows, birthdays, the comforts of home and themes of kindness, bravery and sharing.

Fun, magic, mystery and history were the order of the day in the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Junior Fiction category, with the rich abundance of stories submitted making for close calls when narrowing down to a final five.


Whether looking to the past, the present, or an imagined near future, each novel up for the Young Adult Fiction Award has superb writing, realistic interactions, insightful social commentary and satisfying dénouements in common.

There are no dull and dusty facts amongst the Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award finalists. The judges found this category alive and kicking with books that connect youngsters with the richness of nature and the universality of the human spirit.

The Russell Clark Illustration Award finalists dazzle with their difference. From relaxed watercolours and quirky Kiwi settings to warm full-colour spreads, mixed-media mastery and emotive, pared-back graphics, the lack of homogeneity in this category proves just how diverse and creative our illustrators are.


The best storytellers know that words carve memories, and the titles nominated for the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written entirely in te reo Māori all have tales that engage and captivate audiences. The judges were particularly impressed with books that exemplified Mātauranga Māori in their view of the world, including retellings of traditional Māori stories.


Competition was fierce to make the shortlist for the Best First Book with the judges finding nothing amateur about these debuts, which they say are indistinguishable in quality from books by more experienced writers. All of the finalists for this award have used their writing to cut deep to the heart of what being a young person is all about.


The formidable task of narrowing the field to a list of finalists was met by this year’s experienced judging panel: Crissi Blair (convenor) a long-time promoter and champion of children’s books; Jane Arthur, an editor and poet who co-founded children’s book site The Sapling; Raymond Huber, a widely published children’s author and editor; Tania Roxborogh (Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri), a veteran educator and an award-winning writer; and Simie Simpson (Te Ati Awa), a librarian in the Kaipara District north of Auckland.

They were joined by a panel appointed by Te Rōpū Whakahau to judge te reo Māori entries, which was led by Moana Munro (convenor), kaitiakipukapuka Māori for Hastings District Libraries, Anahera Morehu, who is part of the team which supports the Mātauranga Māori and Tukua workshops for those working in the information industry and is the incoming president-elect of LIANZA , and Jacqueline Joyce Snee, senior librarian Māori Research at Auckland Central Library.


The winners of the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults will be announced at a ceremony in the atmospheric Te Marae at Te Papa in Wellington on the evening of Wednesday 7 August.


The New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults are made possible through the generosity, commitment and vision of funders and sponsors: Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, the Wright Family Foundation, LIANZA, Wellington City Council, Nielsen Book and Te Papa. The Awards are administered by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust.


The finalists for the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are:

Picture Book Award

Mini Whinny: Happy Birthday to Me, Stacy Gregg, illustrated by Ruth Paul (Scholastic NZ)

Puffin the Architect, Kimberly Andrews (Penguin Random House)

The Bomb, Sacha Cotter, illustrated by Josh Morgan (Huia Publishers)

Things in the Sea are Touching Me, Linda Jane Keegan, illustrated by Minky Stapleton (Scholastic NZ)

Who Stole the Rainbow? Vasanti Unka (Penguin Random House)


Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction

Search for a Kiwi Killer, Des Hunt (Tōrea Press)

The Dog Runner, Bren MacDibble (Allen & Unwin)

The Mapmakers’ Race, Eirlys Hunter, illustrated by Kirsten Slade (Gecko Press)

The Telegram, Philippa Werry (Pipi Press)

Whetū Toa and the Magician, Steph Matuku, illustrated by Katharine Hall (Huia Publishers)


Young Adult Fiction Award

Ash Arising, Mandy Hager (Penguin Random House)

Children of the Furnace, Brin Murray (The CopyPress)

Invisibly Breathing, Eileen Merriman (Penguin Random House)

Legacy, Whiti Hereaka  (Huia Publishers)

The Rift, Rachael Craw (Walker Books Australia)


Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction

Art-tastic, Sarah Pepperle (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)

Go Girl: A Storybook of Epic NZ Women, Barbara Else (Penguin Random House)

Ko Mauao te Maunga: Legend of Mauao, Debbie McCauley, illustrated by Debbie Tipuna and translated by Tamati Waaka (Mauao Publishing)

New Zealand’s Backyard Beasts, Ned Barraud (Potton & Burton)

Whose Home is This?, Gillian Candler, illustrated by Fraser Williamson (Potton & Burton)


Russell Clark Award for Illustration

Cook’s Cook: The Cook who Cooked for Captain Cook, written and illustrated by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press)

Helen and the Go-Go Ninjas, illustrated by Ant Sang, written by Michael Bennett (Penguin Random House)

Oink, written and illustrated by David Elliot (Gecko Press)

Puffin the Architect, written and illustrated by Kimberly Andrews (Penguin Random House)

The Bomb, illustrated by Josh Morgan, written by Sacha Cotter (Huia Publishers)


Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written completely in te reo Māori

Ngā Whetū Matariki i Whānakotia, Miriama Kamo, illustrated by Zak Waipara, translated by Ngaere Roberts (Scholastic NZ)

Te Haka a Tānerore, Reina Kahukiwa, illustrated by Robyn Kahukiwa, translated by Kiwa Hammond (Mauri Tū)

Te Hīnga Ake a Māui i Te Ika Whenua, written and illustrated by Donovan Bixley, translated by Darryn Joseph (cultural adviser) and Keri Opai (Upstart Press)

Best First Book Award

Art-tastic, Sarah Pepperle (Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū)

Bullseye Bella, James T Guthrie (Scholastic NZ)

Children of the Furnace, Brin Murray (The CopyPress)

Slice of Heaven, Des O’Leary (Mākaro Press)

The Stolen Stars of Matariki, Miriama Kamo, illustrated by Zak Waipara (Scholastic NZ)



Ockham Book Awards logo


By Media Releases

Ockham Book Awards logo 

‘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.


Lincoln Gould Retiring as Booksellers New Zealand CEO

By Media Releases

Lincoln Gould is retiring as CEO of Booksellers NZ at the end of October, after 10 years at the helm.

Announcing the retirement, Chair of Booksellers NZ, Juliet Blyth  says ’The Association has been immensely fortunate to have had Lincoln as our CEO these last 10 years.’

‘Lincoln has been a true champion for our members and for the wider book industry. Notably Lincoln was a key driver, in lobbying successive governments to implement the charging of GST on international online purchases, and this will be in place from October 1 this year.

‘Due to the strong relationships he forged with his international counterparts, particularly the American, Australian and British Booksellers Associations as a founding member of the English Language Booksellers Association, Lincoln has been extremely successful in bringing the world to NZ booksellers with many new initiatives.

‘These include  NZ Bookshop Day – celebrating independent booksellers and their communities, and the establishment of the highly coveted Winter Institute Scholarship, allowing kiwi booksellers to attend the ABA’s richly educational Winter Institute Conference, and gain work experience in American bookshops.

‘Lincoln’s achievements are many, and tough as it will be to see Lincoln go, with membership numbers on the rise and Booksellers NZ safely ensconced in their new premises across from Book House in Boulcott St, the Association is well positioned to engage in a new future. Lincoln came into Booksellers NZ from a background in change management and leaves with a demonstrable passion for the industry in the form of Messines Bookshop, his own bookshop in Featherston. Once again, the magic of bookselling does its thing’.

’Bookselling in New Zealand has seen great change in the past 10 years,’ says Lincoln, ‘and I have been fortunate to have been able to contribute to such an important  part of the cultural fabric of the country.

‘The financial crisis of 2009, the year I started, also saw the beginning of the e-book phenomena, which some predicted would be the end of printed books.  It was also the time when Amazon was attacking bricks and mortar bookshops around the world with cut priced on-line selling.  However, New Zealand booksellers rose to the challenge, with our agreement with Kobo offering the opportunity for member bookshops to sell e-readers and also consolidating their positions as important social and cultural hubs within their communities. Booksellers NZ and our members also quickly utilised the new tools of social media to promote and sell books online. The e-market has now plateaued, new bookshops are opening in communities across the country and real-book sales are increasing.’

Lincoln will see through the major projects for the year and the October date for retirement will coincide with the introduction of the requirement for offshore online retailer to collect GST on sales into New Zealand. The Booksellers NZ Board has done some preliminary work on a replacement role and will shortly engage the services of a recruitment specialist. The role will also be also advertised through The Read in the coming weeks. The Board aims to select a new head for the Association by the end of August.



For further comment, please contact Juliet Blyth, Chair Booksellers NZ on 027 444 6062


Unleashing the unifying power of poetry in New Zealand communities

By Media Releases

On Friday 23 August 2019, Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day will once again give New Zealanders the opportunity to come together and unleash the power of poetry in their own communities.

Last year, a massive 150 events took place nationwide – double that of four years ago – bringing together acclaimed poets, new voices, young writers and poetry enthusiasts. And now it’s back, for its twenty-first year!

Acclaimed poet and poetry champion Paula Green is a big fan of the day. ‘Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day is an inventive, invigorating, heart-warming showcase of the width and depth of our poetry communities,’ she says. ‘From beloved poetry elders to emerging poets, words open and spark in every nook and cranny, on airwaves, social media and street corners. This nationwide festival connects us through the power and joy of words.’

The feast of poetry around the country – from installations to open mike performances and competitions – includes appearances from Poet Laureates, spoken-word stars, and award-winning younger writers like Hera Lindsay Bird and Courtney Sina Meredith. Venues range from theatres, cafes, bars, libraries, schools, museums, marae, community centres and bookshops to pavements, parks and public transport.

The deadline for event organisers to register and apply for seed-funding is Wednesday 22 May 2019 at 5:00pm. Events can be registered online via this link:

Held every year on the fourth Friday of August, National Poetry Day is a popular fixture on the nation’s cultural calendar. Phantom Billstickers have sponsored National Poetry Day for the past four years and support the celebrations with a nationwide poetry street poster campaign.

The Poetry winner at this year’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, announced on Tuesday 14 May 2019, will star in event(s) on Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day. The shortlisted writers for the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry are: Helen Heath (Wellington), Erik Kennedy (Christchurch), Therese Lloyd (Wellington) and Tayi Tibble (Wellington).

Find Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day on social: / / #NZPoetryDay.


Notes to Editors

National Poetry Day has been running continuously since 1997 and since 2014, has been administered by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust. It has a mandate to celebrate discovery, diversity, community and pushing boundaries, and to ensure their longevity and credibility. The Trust also governs and manages the country’s two major literary awards – The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and the New Zealand Book Awards for Children & Young Adults. New Zealand Book Awards Trust.

Phantom Billstickers is a street poster company which has consistently helped New Zealanders express themselves since 1982. Recognising and supporting home-grown talent has always sat comfortably alongside its commercial campaign work. Phantom actively promotes New Zealand music, art, poetry and culture around in public spaces here and overseas. Phantom Billstickers.

Paula Green is a popular poet, reviewer, literary awards judge and children’s writer. She has written numerous poetry collections and edited several anthologies. She has two popular poetry blogs, NZ Poetry Box for children and NZ Poetry Shelf for adults. Green has been a judge for the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, the Ockham Secondary School Poetry Competition and the inaugural Sarah Broom Poetry Prize in 2014. In 2017, she was awarded The Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry and admitted to The New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Poetry.

NZ Booklovers Awards 2019 Winners Announced

By Media Releases

Fiona Kidman, Jo Seagar and Kimberly Andrews are winners in the inaugural NZ Booklovers Awards announced today.

‘These are books that all families in New Zealand will enjoy,’ says NZ Booklovers Director Karen McMillan. ‘Between the three winners, there is a novel that is an excellent piece of storytelling that takes the reader back in time to New Zealand in the 1950s, a lifestyle book that will be used repeatedly for family celebrations, and a children’s book that is likely to become a favourite and foster a love of reading.’

This Mortal Boy by Fiona wins the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction Book 2019.

The judges say, ‘This novel is a portrayal of a real event in New Zealand, one of the last times the death penalty was invoked. Set in the 1950s, the social climate of the time is beautifully portrayed – conservative, prejudiced against immigrants, and suffering from an upsurge in juvenile delinquency. It is very easy to engage with the characters, especially the central figure, Arthur Black. In 1950s Auckland Arthur’s unfortunate liaisons lead him to a situation which gets out of control. Is he a victim of prejudice and a miscarriage of justice? A well-crafted story that perfectly fits our brief of a book that celebrates the best in storytelling, a book we couldn’t put down.’

Better than a Bought One by Jo Seagar wins the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Lifestyle Book 2019.

The judges say, ‘Better than a Bought One is not a regular recipe book – it is a valuable addition to any Kiwi home! This is New Zealand’s beloved cook Jo Seagar’s best book yet. Sharing her love of entertaining, Jo inspires readers to celebrate life’s milestones at home. Her focus is on easy, economical ideas to mark everything from birthdays, backyard weddings, baby showers and other life celebrations to Matariki and a casual Kiwi Christmas. Jo deftly shows readers how to create special occasions with minimal effort and maximum impact. Jo’s trademark writing is accompanied by intoxicating photography that ensures readers will repeatedly refer to the book for memorable ideas. A highly pleasurable read that hits our criteria of a book that enriches people’s everyday lives.’

Puffin the Architect by Kimberly Andrews wins the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Children’s Book 2019.

The judges say, ‘As Puffin the Architect leads her difficult-to-please clients through her past designs – the homes she has planned for Platypus the Baker, Painter Goose and Pilot Moose, amongst others – they see and hear about her wonderful creations, but none are right for them. What is required is a cottage specifically designed for puffins, and “a home built by the sea” is underway. A detail with special appeal that comes at the end of the story is that the architect is their mum. Cleverly written in verse and with wonderfully detailed illustrations, this is a great read-aloud book and one that children will also enjoy reading alone for both the intricacies of the drawings and the ideas of planning a “custom-built” house. A picture book which can be read over many times and used as a creative discussion point for children’s own choices about house designs, Puffin the Architect has a richness, depth and complexity of concepts that will appeal to kids over a wide range of ages.’

Entries for the NZ Booklovers Awards 2020 are already open at

‘We are passionate about supporting the many talented authors we have in New Zealand, so we are delighted to be offering the NZ Booklovers Awards for a second year,’ says Karen McMillan. ‘We welcome traditionally published authors and self-published authors to submit their books throughout the year. This year we were delighted to see a mix of well-known names and new talent and trust we will see a similar variety for the 2020 Awards.’

The Best Adult Fiction Book Award is judged by writer and literary editor Marcus Hobson, publishing professional Rachel White, and NZ Booklovers Director and author Karen McMillan.

The Best Lifestyle Book Award is judged by journalist and author Andrea Molloy, NZ Booklovers Director and author Karen McMillan, and publisher, home renovator and foodie Iain McKenzie.

The Best Children’s Book Award is judged by author and creative writing teacher Paddy Richardson, editor and writer Heidi North, and early childhood kaiako and journalist Rebekah Fraser.

About NZ Booklovers
NZ Booklovers is an online home for books and for those who enjoy reading them. It is a bookworms’ hub, dedicated to bringing New Zealanders everything they need to know about reading and the world of literature. Working alongside publishers, NZ Booklovers showcases both New Zealand and international titles. It provides a platform for sharing articles, author interviews, reviews, and book-related stories, as well as book news, competitions, and reading and writing advice.

Director Karen McMillan heads up a talented team of contributors and reviewers, fellow readers and writers who are passionate about books and who believe books inspire and enhance people’s lives. The NZ Booklovers Awards are the brainchild of Karen McMillan, with the aim of supporting the local publishing community and New Zealand authors.

The Prime Minister, Jeff Tweedy, Sir Antony Beevor among Stellar 2019 Auckland Writers Festival Line-up

By Media Releases

The 20th Auckland Writers Festival programme launches today, revealing a line-up of more than 200 events featuring over 230 globally acclaimed public intellectuals and much-loved literary stars offering conversation, laughter, ideas and inspiration for audiences of all ages from 13 to 19 May.

Appearing exclusively in New Zealand is memoirist and founding member and leader of American rock band Wilco, Jeff Tweedy. Joining him is acclaimed British historian Sir Antony Beevor; Canadian writer, visual artist and author of the iconic work, Generation XDouglas Coupland; memoirist and former Straitjacket Fits front man Shayne Carter; celebrated New Zealand novelists Tessa Duder, Lloyd Jones, Fiona Kidman, Witi Ihimaera, Albert Wendt and Vincent O’Sullivan; much-loved Irish writer John Boyne;  English writer, mathematician and concert pianist Eugenia Cheng; best-selling children’s writer Sally Gardner together with her erotic fiction adult nom de plume, Wray Delaney; one of our best known poets, novelists and critics C.K. Stead; 2018 British Women’s Prize-winning novelist Kamila Shamsie; 2018 American Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Andrew Sean Greer; globally best-selling author of The Book Thief and Bridge of Clay Markus Zusak; te reo Māori champions Scotty Morrison and Tīmoti Kāretu; Festival co-founder and award-winning writer Stephanie Johnson; current Katherine Mansfield Fellow Paula Morris; Kiwi trailblazers Marilyn Waring, Sir Kim Workman, Sandra Coney and Maris O’Rourke; one of Europe’s major literary voices, Germany’s Jenny Erpenbeck; South Africa’s Sisonke Msimang who was born in exile to freedom fighters; leading Asia journalist Richard McGregor; influential New Zealand artist Gretchen Albrecht; award-winning English hip-hop artist, writer, poet and founder of The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company Akala; Swedish authors of the Bill Gates championed book Factfulness Anna Rosling Rönnlund and Ola Rosling; one of the Pacific’s leading cultural custodians, former Samoan Prime Minister Tui Atua; multi-award winning Canadian novelist of Fugitive Pieces fame, Anne Michaels; and many more!

The Festival is internationally recognised now as one of the best literature celebrations in the world, with seven days of ideas, readings, debates, stand-up poetry, literary theatre, children’s writers and free public and family events. Festival attendance has grown exponentially, with audiences topping 75,000 last year.

Auckland Writers Festival director Anne O’Brien says it is enormously heartening to see so many people of all ages and with such varied interests, coming to the Festival each year.

“The Festival is part of the life-blood of New Zealand. It expands our world views, deepens our understanding on issues of the day, celebrates stories and writing, and offers a heady, seven-day, fun-times immersion.

“Where else can you hear a historian talk about sex work, a philosopher talk about what we can learn from octopuses, meet a freedom fighter and see performance poets all under one roof?

“If you haven’t been before, come and join the party, and if you’re a Festival regular, welcome back!”

Ms O’Brien says that the Festival is also proud to introduce its Māori name Waituhi o Tāmaki, with its many poetic resonances with water (wai, waiata meaning song-poem or reflecting water), writing (tuhi  – to write) and story-telling through other forms of writing such as kōwhaiwhai  and tā moko.

Te reo Māori scholar and author Hēmi Kelly (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tahu, Ngāti Whāoa), says its many references include “to the writing waters or artists or writers in this case whose stories are etched into this land like the flowing waters of a stream.”

The Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Jacinda Ardern appears in Stardust & Substance on Friday 17 May with Toby Manhire, discussing the remarkable weeks leading up to the 2017 New Zealand election and the impact of the result both domestically and around the world, as documented in the book of the same name.

English economist Kate Raworth joins us at the beginning of the week on Monday 13 May. Described by George Monbiot as the John Maynard Keynes of the 21st century, she contends that we need to reframe the economy by meeting the needs of all within the means of the planet. She discusses her book, Doughnut Economics, with Rod Oram.

The 51st Ockham New Zealand Book Awards will be held at the Aotea Centre on Tuesday 14 May. Come and see who will take home the big prizes at this premier event, with Stacey Morrison as MC.

With Jeff Tweedy and Shayne Carter on the bill, music was always going to be a key feature in this year’s Festival. There are more melodious events on offer, too. Journey through the four seasons in Man, Sitting in a Garden on Wednesday 15 May with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in collaboration with  writer Witi Ihimaera, composer Kenneth Young and internationally renowned New Zealand tenor Simon O’Neill. O’Neill also sings Schumann, Bach and Wagner, with English writer, mathematician and musician Eugenia Cheng on piano in The Sum of the Score on Friday 17 May. US Singer/songwriter Val Emmich has adapted the Tony Broadway Musical of the Year Dear Evan Hansen, into a novel. He’ll be on stage with Petra Bagust discussing the work, on Friday 17 May, with Auckland’s National Youth Theatre Company performing four hit songs from the show.  Join Whiti Hereaka, Kelly Joseph, Nic Low, Tina Makereti, Paula Morris, Regan Taylor and multi-instrumentalist Kingsley Melhuish on Thursday 16 May for an hour of mythic Māori magic in Pūrākau: Maori Myths Retold.

Friday night’s medley of madcap and mysterious writerly goings-on returns this year in dens and alleys of Central Auckland’s Lorne Street in the guise of Literally Lorne. There’ll be a specially commissioned short detective story from the Scotsman Liam McIlvanney to be read at the Central Library basement by ultraviolet torchlight; high-spirited writing exercises at the Academy Cinema; inspired writing at Gow Langsford art gallery; fun-and-games storytelling and typography at DesignWorks; short poems with sweet cookies from The Receptionist coffee kiosk—all presented by an array of the writing great and good. Look out for Festival favourites Michele A’Court, Emma Espiner, Kirsty Gunn, Karyn Hay, Dominic Hoey, Stephanie Johnson, Renee Liang, Lana Lopesi, Courtney Sina Meredith, Karlo Mila, Tze Ming Mok, Emma Neale, Victor Rodger, Carl Shuker, Damian Skinner, Ian Wedde, Ashleigh Young and others for the perfect Friday night indulgence, at entirely no charge. A full schedule and event descriptions will be posted on our website early April:

They’re insidious, and according to The Human Rights Commission, they’re on the increase. David Chariandy (Canada), Jenny Erpenbeck (Germany), and Leonie Hayden and Victor Rodger (New Zealand) explore Every Day Acts of Racism in The University of Auckland Festival Forum on Wednesday 15 May, chaired by Carol Hirschfeld.

Always a sell-out, this year’s Festival Gala Night is True Stories Told Live: At the Crossroads on Thursday 16 May. Join us for a memorable evening with eight of this year’s best performers, each delivering a seven-minute true story with no props or scripts.  

Performance strands of the Festival include Wellington comedian Eamonn Marra, voted Best Newcomer at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival in 2014, presenting a 45-minute set exploring anxiety on Saturday 18 May. One of the UK’s most charismatic bards, Luke Wright presents an hour performing his best poems on Friday 17 May, in which he struggles with Brexit, doubt, duty and channels half-cut nights spent shouting impotently at the telly, namely at the BBC’s Question Time. Also on Friday, Poets Showcase: tend II here features six stellar poets challenging the performance concept of tenderness requires a giving away of oneself, MC’d by Grace Taylor.

 A three-time Festival sell-out for her extraordinary solo performances of Austen’s Women, Dalloway and Jane Eyre: An Autobiography, celebrated English actress Rebecca Vaughan returns as Virginia Woolf’s 1928 ageless, gender-fluid, immortal fictional poet Orlando, performing throughout the Festival period.

Head on down to the Town Hall on Sunday 19 May for the Festival’s absolutely FREE Family Day! A packed day of performances and presentations including story time with a HUGE 50th birthday edition of Margaret Mahy’s much loved classic The Lion in the Meadow, the live appearance of some of our native frogs and skinks with a reptile and amphibian expert, the Great Library Hunt, and fun upbeat sessions with writers, illustrators, singers, and presenters including Zara Clark, Malcolm Clarke, Joy H Davidson, Sally Gardner, Swapna Haddow, Heather Haylock, Bren MacDibble, Scotty and Stacey Morrison, Ruth Paul, Craig Phillips and Dylan van Winkel.

The event finale on Sunday afternoon is an hour with Honoured New Zealand Writer, Joy Cowley. One of New Zealand’s most loved and prodigious writers, Cowley has been crafting timeless work for more than 50 years. Best known for her books for the very young, she is also an accomplished author of adult novels, short story collections and a play. Join us in celebrating Cowley’s remarkable life and contribution to writing in this free session, in conversation with Carole Beu.

Ms O’Brien says it’s a privilege to present such diverse and talented writers from here and around the world.

“The last few years has seen unprecedented interest in the Festival from audiences who travel not only from all over Auckland, but from around the country and abroad to listen to globally lauded writers and ideas, men and women who deepen our thinking, make us laugh, move us and help us to make sense of this increasingly complicated world.

“We are now one of the largest and most respected literary festivals in the world and I encourage everyone to come along and engage with words and ideas offered in books, song, stand-up, performances, prose, in debates and conversations, from voices both familiar and new.”

The 2019 Auckland Writers Festival programme is launched at an invitation-only event at the Aotea Centre on the evening of Wednesday 13 March.

A preferential booking period for Festival Patrons and Friends follows, with public tickets on sale from 9.00am, Friday 15 March from

The Auckland Writers Festival warmly thanks Platinum Partner: Heartland Bank; Gold Partners: The University of Auckland, Freemasons Foundation, Ockham Residential and Creative New Zealand; Silver Partners: ATEED, Barfoot & Thompson, Craigs Investment Partners, Foundation North, Hobson Leavy Executive Search, Newstalk ZB, The New Zealand Herald, The University of Auckland Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences; Bronze Partners: Hachette, HarperCollins, Hawkins & Co, Heart of the City, NZ Community Trust, Penguin Random House, QMS, The Lion Foundation, Victoria University Press and Supporting Partners.

We are also enormously grateful to our Festival patrons for their enthusiasm and generosity.

Go to for more information on appearing writers and their events.





13-19 May           Full Festival Programme (Aotea Centre, Auckland Art Gallery, Heartland Festival Room in Aotea Square, MASU Restaurant)


13 May                 Doughnut Economics: Kate Raworth (Aotea Centre)


14 May                 Auckland Writers Festival Schools Programme (Aotea Centre)

Ockham New Zealand Book Awards (Aotea Centre)


15 May                 Auckland Writers Festival Schools Programme (Aotea Centre)

The University of Auckland Festival Forum (Aotea Centre)

                                Man, Sitting in a Garden with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (Auckland Town Hall)


16 May                 Auckland Writers Festival Schools Programme (Aotea Centre)

Masu Lunch with Tony Tan                         

Festival Gala Night (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre)

History or Gossip? The University of Auckland Free Public Lecture: CK Stead (Heartland Room, Aotea Square)


17 May                 Stardust and Substance: Jacinda Ardern (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre)

Literally Lorne (Lorne St, Auckland central – various venues)

Dear Evan Hansen: The Novel, Val Emmich (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre)

Let’s Go: Jeff Tweedy: (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre)


18 May                 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2019 (Waitākere Room, Aotea Centre)

The Heart of War: Antony Beevor (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre)


19 May                 FREE Family Day Programme (Town Hall Concert Chamber & Balcony Bar)

Honoured New Zealand Writer event (ASB Theatre, Aotea Centre, free entry)

For international author photos:

For New Zealand author photos:

For digital Festival banners:

For further information, interview opportunities and for more images please contact: Penny Hartill, director, hPR, 09 445 7525, 021 721 424,    @AklWritersFest





Ockham Book Awards logo

2019 Ockham Finalists Explore the Truth and Issues of Our Times

By Media Releases

Ockham Book Awards logoFour of our best-known novelists – whose novels, appropriately for our times, explore what it means to tell the truth – are in the running for the country’s richest fiction writing prize with today’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalist announcement.

The Cage by Lloyd Jones, This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman, All This By Chance by Vincent O’Sullivan, and The New Ships by Kate Duignan are shortlisted for the $53,000 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize.

“They stood out for their ability to explore personal memory and collective mediation of the truth in new and provocative ways that have a lasting impact on the reader,” says the Fiction category convenor of judges Sally Blundell.

Award-winning New York-based novelist Joseph O’Neill will assist the three New Zealand judges to select this year’s Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize winner.

Today’s announcement includes two major new Awards’ sponsors. Mitochondrial science company MitoQ will sponsor the four Best First Book awards, and arts enthusiasts and philanthropists Mary and Peter Biggs will support the Poetry category.

MitoQ’s chief marketing officer John Marshall says that as one of New Zealand’s newest success stories, it is their pleasure to help emerging writers further enrich the country’s literature.

Peter Biggs says that with poetry undergoing a wonderful resurgence in our country over the last few years, it struck him as strange that the Award for Poetry was unsupported.

“We are thrilled to be involved and hope that the Award continues to recognise poetry’s – and the poet’s – vital role to, as Salman Rushdie says, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.”

The finalists in the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry are Are Friends Electric? by Helen Heath; There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime by Erik Kennedy; The Facts by Therese Lloyd and Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble.

“The poetry collections on this year’s shortlist are marked by a striking diversity of approaches to the lyric poem, but all show an ambitious and engaging interest in experimenting with narrative, form, structure and voice without sacrificing emotional resonance,” says this year’s Poetry category convenor of judges Bryan Walpert.


The Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction finalists are New York Times best-selling author and academic Joanne Drayton for Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love; lauded and much-loved writer Maurice Gee for Memory Pieces; debut author Chessie Henry for We Can Make A Life, and renowned editor and writer Anna Rogers for With Them Through Hell: New Zealand Medical Services in the First World War.

“We were excited by the fresh and diverse perspectives, new voices, and generous writing reflected in the shortlist, as well as by the appeal and attractiveness of the books themselves,” says General Non-Fiction category convenor of judges Angela Wanhalla.

In the Illustrated Non-Fiction category, the four finalists are: Fight for the Forests: The Pivotal Campaigns that Saved New Zealand’s Native Forests by conservationist and journalist Paul Bensemann; Wanted: The Search for the Modernist Murals of E. Mervyn Taylor edited by investigative artist and researcher Bronwyn Holloway-Smith; Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing by senior curator Sean Mallon with anthropologist Sébastien Galliot, and Birdstories: A History of the Birds of New Zealand by writer, publisher and environmentalist Geoff Norman.

Illustrated Non-Fiction category convenor Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins says the judges were thrilled with the quality and ambition of the short-listed books, all of which clearly stood out from the rest.

New Zealand Book Awards trustee Jenna Todd says the Ockham’s shortlist is clear evidence of the vitality of New Zealand literature.

“Not only does the shortlist feature some of our best known writers – those with long and illustrious careers – but it also includes newcomers writing out of deep passion and engagement. These 16 books deepen the public discourse on a range of issues and the particular genius of each of their writers lifts them to an emotional plane at which they reward and endure for their readers,” says Ms Todd.

The 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalists are:  

The Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize:

The New Ships by Kate Duignan (Victoria University Press)

The Cage by Lloyd Jones (Penguin Random House)

This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman (Penguin Random House)

All This by Chance by Vincent O’Sullivan (Victoria University Press)

The Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry:

Are Friends Electric? by Helen Heath (Victoria University Press)

There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime by Erik Kennedy (Victoria University Press)

The Facts by Therese Lloyd (Victoria University Press)

Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble (Victoria University Press)

The Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction:

Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love by Joanne Drayton (Otago University Press)

Memory Pieces by Maurice Gee (Victoria University Press)

We Can Make a Life by Chessie Henry (Victoria University Press)

With Them Through Hell: New Zealand Medical Services in the First World War by Anna Rogers (Massey University Press)

Illustrated Non-Fiction Award:

Fight for the Forests: The Pivotal Campaigns that Saved New Zealand’s Native Forests by Paul Bensemann (Potton & Burton)

Wanted: The Search for the Modernist Murals of E. Mervyn Taylor edited by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith (Massey University Press)

Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing by Sean Mallon with Sébastien Galliot (Te Papa Press)

Birdstories: A History of the Birds of New Zealand by Geoff Norman (Potton & Burton)

The General Non-Fiction, Poetry and Illustrated Non-Fiction category winners will each receive a $10,000 prize.

The winners (including the four MitoQ Best First Book Awards and a Māori Language Award, presented at the judges’ discretion) will be announced at an awards ceremony on 14 May, at an event in the 2019 Auckland Writers Festival.

To find out more about the shortlisted titles go to