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Literary Heavyweights Vie for Top Writing Honours

By Media Releases, TIBE

Ockham Book Awards logoFour of the country’s most respected novelists are in the running for New Zealand’s richest fiction writing prize with today’s announcement of the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlist.

Commonwealth Prize-winning novelist Catherine Chidgey’s The Wish Child is one of the contenders for the $50,000 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, as are multi-award winning writer Owen Marshall’s Love as a Stranger, critic, poet and novelist C.K. Stead’s The Name on the Door is Not Mine, and critically acclaimed poet and novelist Emma Neale’s Billy Bird.

The prize, now in its second year, is awarded through the generosity of one of the Acorn Foundation’s donors.

The Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize judges’ convenor, Bronwyn Wylie-Gibb, says all four finalists demonstrate compelling writing, surprising plots, sudden poignancies, sharp humour and beautifully observed characters. “These are the books that we loved, that provoked, that excited us, and that we are still thinking about.”

For the first time in the history of the New Zealand Book Awards, an international judge will assist in selecting the winner of the fiction category.

Distinguished Canadian writer Madeleine Thie will be the first to assume this role. New Zealand Book Awards Trust chair, Nicola Legat, says this country’s writers have long wished for an international view of their books, and having an international judge will now be a permanent feature of this award.

Ms Legat further reports that judges across all categories found selecting a shortlist in a very tight longlist field difficult.  “The overall standard of publishing in New Zealand in the last year was so very high.”

In the Poetry category, the finalists are Tusiata Avia’s Fale Aitu | Spirit House; Hera Lindsay Bird’s Hera Lindsay Bird; Andrew Johnston’s Fits & Starts, and Gregory Kan’s This Paper Boat.

The Poetry convenor, Harry Ricketts, says that each finalist was highly accomplished, ambitious, demanding and rewarding.  “The quality of long-listed collections by experienced poets was extremely high, so too that of first-timers. And the collections, so striking, so innovative, were so distinctive in poetics and in content. Each [of the four finalists] pushes you outside your comfort zone, adjusts your expectations, sends you back to discover new things about the poems, about yourself reading them.”

The finalists in the Illustrated Non-Fiction category are Barbara Brookes’ A History of New Zealand Women; Warren Moran’s New Zealand Wine: The Land, the Vines, the People; Peter Simpson’s Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933-1953, and Ann Shelton: Dark Matter edited by Zara Stanhope.

“Stylish production enhanced the aesthetic appeal of the Illustrated Non-Fiction shortlisted books, with crisp photography and fascinating historical images complemented by great design,” says the convenor, Linda Tyler. “They each showcase the skills of Aotearoa New Zealand’s writers, editors, designers, printers and publishers, presenting aspects of our life and culture in original and compelling ways,” she says.

The General Non-Fiction category’s finalists are Anthony Byrt’s This Model World: Travels to the Edge of Contemporary Art; Adam Dudding’s My Father’s Island;  Ben Schrader’s The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities, 1840-1920, and Ashleigh Young’s  Can You Tolerate This? Convenor Susanna Andrew says the judges chose the books that thrilled them with their vigour, originality and wisdom.  “These four stood apart from the rest from the very start for their honesty and prose style and for being alive to the very art of writing.”

The winner of this category will receive the inaugural Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction.

The 16 finalist books were selected by four panels of three specialist judges and were drawn from 40 longlisted titles out of a total of 150 entries.

The 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalist titles are:


  • The Wish Child by Catherine Chidgey (Victoria University Press)
  • Love as a Stranger by Owen Marshall (Vintage, Penguin Random House)
  • Billy Bird by Emma Neale (Vintage, Penguin Random House)
  • The Name on the Door is Not Mine by C.K. Stead (Allen & Unwin)


  • Fale Aitu | Spirit House by Tusiata Avia (Victoria University Press)
  • Hera Lindsay Bird by Hera Lindsay Bird (Victoria University Press)
  • Fits & Starts by Andrew Johnston (Victoria University Press)
  • This Paper Boat by Gregory Kan (Auckland University Press) 


  • A History of New Zealand Women by Barbara Brookes (Bridget Williams Books)
  • New Zealand Wine: The Land, the Vines, the People by Warren Moran (Auckland University Press)
  • Ann Shelton: Dark Matter, edited by Zara Stanhope and managing editor Clare McIntosh (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki)
  • Bloomsbury South: The Arts in Christchurch 1933-1953 by Peter Simpson (Auckland University Press)


  • This Model World: Travels to the Edge of Contemporary Art by Anthony Byrt (Auckland University Press)
  • My Father’s Island by Adam Dudding (Victoria University Press)
  • The Big Smoke: New Zealand Cities, 1840-1920 by Ben Schrader (Bridget Williams Books)
  • Can You Tolerate This? By Ashleigh Young (Victoria University Press)

The winners (including of the four Best First Book awards) will be announced at a ceremony in the Aotea Centre on Tuesday May 16, 2017, held as the first public event of the Auckland Writers Festival. The awards ceremony is open to the public. Tickets to the event can be purchased via Ticketmaster once festival bookings open on Friday 17 March.

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New Zealand, the Acorn Foundation, Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd and the Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi.


For interview opportunities, author images, book cover images and further information please contact: Penny Hartill, director, hPR 09 445 7525, 021 721 424,

@theockhams                        #theockhams

Editor’s Notes 

Madeleine Thien (Canada) is the author of the story collection Simple Recipes (2001), and three novels, Certainty (2006); Dogs at the Perimeter (2011), shortlisted for Berlin’s International Literature Prize and winner of the Frankfurt Book Fair’s 2015 Liberaturpreis; and Do Not Say We Have Nothing which was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are the country’s premier literary honours for works 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 Award and the New Zealand Post Book Awards. Awards are given for Fiction (the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize), Illustrated Non-Fiction, General Non-Fiction (the Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction) and Poetry. There are also four Best First Book Awards and, at the judges’ discretion, a Māori language award. The awards are governed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust (a registered charity). Members of the Trust are Nicola Legat, Karen Ferns, Paula Morris, Catherine Robertson, Stella Chrysostomou, David Bowles, Pene Walsh and Melanee Winder. Creative New Zealand is a significant annual funder of the awards. The Trust also governs the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day.

Ockham Residential Limited is Auckland’s most progressive developer. Founded in 2009 by Mark Todd and Ben Preston, Ockham describes itself as an urban regenerator, a company that loves Auckland, and that wants to see its built environment become as beautiful and as world-class as its natural landscape. The business has ambitions wider than profitability: the company has also established the Ockham Foundation, an education-focused charity, to promote original thinking and critical thought — two key elements of public discourse — via education. It works with the University of Auckland to fund First Foundation Scholars studying science, it also funds two postgraduate scholarships in statistics and it also works with Nga Rangtahi Toa’s work with at risk youth.

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 $3.6 million, and it currently has invested funds of $16.7 million. Community foundations are the fastest growing form of philanthropy worldwide, and there are now 13 throughout New Zealand. The Book Awards’ $50,000 fiction award, known as the Acorn Foundation 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.

Royal Society of New Zealand Te Apārangi offers expert advice to government and the public, recognises excellence in research and scholarship in science, technology and humanities, promotes science and technology education, publishes peer-reviewed journals, administers funds for research and fosters international scientific contact and co-operation. 

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.

Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd underwrites the sale of book tokens within New Zealand. It is administered by Booksellers New Zealand.

This year’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards judges, in alphabetical order, are: Susanna Andrew, Tom Brooking, Paul Diamond, Morgan Godfery, Bronwyn Labrum, Vivienne Plumb, Jill Rawnsley, Harry Ricketts, Steven Toussaint, Linda Tyler, Peter Wells and Bronwyn Wylie-Gibb. For more about the judges, go to:

Penny Hartill


P: 09 445 7525

M: 021 721 424

T: @pennyhartill



Guest of Honour status in Taiwan gives New Zealand huge visibility in that market


GoH_Logo_BlackAerial view of the stand_croppedKiwi authors and publishers have been a welcome presence at the Taipei International Book Exhibition for some five years now, but our profile has never been higher than at this year’s six day festival which ended earlier this week.

“We enhanced our author and publisher relationships with their Taiwanese counterparts and our visibility extended to their wine consumers, students, indigenous authors and performers. Our aim was to promote New Zealand in as many ways as possible and I think we succeeded in that,” said Kevin Chapman, Project Director, NZ Guest of Honour, TIBE 2015.

“We really know we have made an impact when at the opening of TIBE, President Ma Ying-jeou walked around the stage shaking hands with dignitaries and saying Kia Ora!”

Wide-eyed in Taipei: Highlights



You had tWiti in Chairo be there – Witi Ihimaera, being tossed in a chair by indigenous Taiwanese during his talk Universal Stories, a packed-out session held with local author Sakinu Yalonglong. The audience roared with appreciation as humour and translation made it a wonderful event whatever your language.

Also drawing big crowds twice each day for the six day Taipei International Book Exhibition were Ngā Kete Tuku Iho’s performance group. “There were kids on shoulders everywhere you looked, kids on stage, people having their pictures taken with the performers – fantastic, happy interaction everywhere,” said PANZ’s Katherine Shanks.

Paul Cleave signs copies of his books for his Taiwanese fans

Author Paul Cleave’s signing queue (pictured left) “stretched out of sight” according to Katherine, and authors including Joy Cowley and Joan Druett attracted full house audiences, as did many of the panel sessions with authors and illustrators.

Katherine says that it wasn’t apparent in wide shot photographs, but the ends of each longitudinal tokotoko had screens broadcasting our history, stories and scenery. And even better, the New Zealand stand was scented by our native flower perfumes so the experience was audio, visual and olfactory.

On the business side, there was a 10 percent increase in audience numbers over the previous year with around 560,000 people visiting the 2015 Taipei International Book Exhibition over its six days, about 10 percent more than attended last year. Our Man Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton’s novel The Luminaries sold 1,200 copies in translation and her earlier book The Rehearsal also sold more than 500 copies.

A total of 682 publishers from 67 countries exhibited at the fair, which featured over 700 book-signings, authors’ talks and other events.

Educational book publishers add Seoul and Hong Kong to Taipei presence




Ed Pubs infront of Taipei 101

Pictured infront of Taipei’s iconic building Taipei 101 l-r: Mark Sayes, David Glover, Adele Bryant (ENZ), Kathy Ferrier, Dame Wendy Pye, Bob Andersen, Joy Allcock, Sandy Roydhouse, Robert Roydhouse (front).

Making their airfares work harder were a group of Kiwi educational publishers led by David Glover, who added Korea and Hong Kong to their itineraries prior to TIBE.

Bob Andersen (Wendy Pye Publishing), Mark Sayes (ESA Publications), Kathy Ferrier (Lanky Hippo) and Joy Allcock (MJA Publishing)  began their tour in Seoul. Activities included 17 individual meetings, visiting a school ‘full of Kiwi teachers’, learning about Korea’s big, sophisticated market for educational materials, and an event hosted by NZ’s Embassy in Seoul.

In Hong Kong they added John Huria and Graeme Cosslett of NZCER to their ranks, and held 12 individual meetings with educational publishing counterparts, along with a networking function at the NZ Consulate. These were interesting conversations as the Hong Kong possibilities and onward connections into China were discussed.
Reaching Taipei, the delegation was joined by Dame Wendy Pye, David Ellis (NZCER) and Sandy Roydhouse (Clean Slate). They had many pre-arranged appointments with Taiwanese publishers, and also did a lot of ‘walk-ons’ to the booths of local publishers.

Wendy Pye session_cropped

Dame Wendy Pye invites a girl from the audience onto the stage to read from one of her books during the Teaching the World to Read session.

Educational publishers made two presentations at TIBE – one titled Teaching the World to Read and the other NZ Educational Publishing – what makes it special. The latter was followed by a reception, an opportunity for yet more networking.

David says that the three city tour created lots of new relationships between publishers of each country and they have many leads to follow up. “We all have a much better idea of how our materials need to be adapted for these three markets. It was a big learning experience.

“I think the trip has generated some great new opportunities. Existing relationships were strengthened, and from others the message was: We didn’t know you, but now we do we are interested to learn what you can offer.”

More Taipei success for publisher David Ling

GoH_Logo_BlackDavDavid Lingid Ling was one of the earliest publishers to return from TIBE… 20 hours door to door. It was his third time at the Taipei International Book Exhibition, and the business created for the company in Asia has grown with each year he has taken part on the New Zealand stand.

Maurice Shadbolt’s Season of the Jew is the second of the late author’s titles to be translated for the Taiwan and China markets. Just off the press, it was celebrated by a presentation about the New Zealand Wars, the book and Maurice from David, translated as he spoke for the local audience.

New Zealand at War was a TIBE session with Witi Ihimaera, David and local historian Kuang-Kai Peng focusing on World War 1. The large audience saw David outline the history, Witi give the reasons behind Māori participation and how some tribes were keen and others refused conscription, all enlivened by a reading from Witi’s forthcoming play about Māori at Gallipoli by men and women of the Ngā Kete Tuku Iho performing group and Adam Dudding.

David Ling's standTaiwan and China rights were also sold to another two of David’s books at TIBE, and good interest was garnered in a further five of his Duck Creek Press children’s picture books. Also, while in Taipei he received from his Beijing publisher a copy of a slipcase set of eight of the titles he has sold them. The set is being released in China asThe New Zealand Picture Book Selection.

“TIBE was a very positive fair, the whole mood was good, the New Zealand stand worked well and I think all of us who exhibited there are happy people,” David told PANZ News.

Making a splash in Taipei

By News, TIBE


Taiwanese children sit enthralled by the performance of Ngā Kete Tuku Iho.

Crowds thronging the pavilion, strong turnouts for author events, publishers tied up in meeting after meeting: the Taipei International Book Exhibition is proving a busy experience for the New Zealand contingent.

The large Guest of Honour pavilion has been standing room for a number of cultural performances, with hundreds showing up for performances by Ngā Kete Tuku Iho’s performance group and its wood carvers also drawing many onlookers.



The author programme at the pavilion have been well attended by a broad cross-section of Taiwanese readers and students, with local hosts and translators conveying New Zealand books and writing to the audiences. Sessions on Friday began in the morning and carried on well into the evening. Words and Pictures session with (l-r) Sarah Wilkins, Mark Sommerset, Jenny Bornholdt, Gavin Bishop and moderator, Taiwanese children’s author Candy Yen.

Exhibitors on the stand are reporting good interest from their Taiwanese and other regional counterparts, with both education and trade publishers sourcing some encouraging prospects for rights and direct distribution.

TIBE continues into its busiest period over this weekend, and visitor numbers look to be up over previous years – helped by some unseasonably fine winter weather and, we hope, by the Kiwi drawcard.

Taipei in pictures

The public queuing too get into the exhibition centre on day 1. Some had queued overnight.

The public queuing to get into the exhibition centre on day 1. Some had queued overnight.

NKTI and stand_small

The crowd gathers to watch the Ngā Kete Tuko Iho performances every morning and evening.

Words in Pictures photo

Words in Pictures session with (l-r) Sarah Wilkins, Mark Sommerset, Jenny Bornholt, Gavin Bishop and moderator Candy Yen.

Publishers display stands surround the performance space.

Publishers’ display stands surround the performance space

Visiting author Mark Sommerset infront of his Taiwanese publisher Hsin-Yi’s display.

Visiting author Mark Sommerset infront of his Taiwanese publisher Hsin-Yi’s display.

Rowan Sommerset's work on display at the Brave New World Children's Illustration Exhibition which also features other New Zealand illustrators, Robyn Belton, Gavin Bishop, Donovan Bixley, Andrew Burdan and Sarah Wilkins.

The Brave New World Children’s Illustration Exhibition which features illustrators from around the world and includes work from New Zealand illustrators, Robyn Belton, Gavin Bishop, Donovan Bixley, Andrew Burdan, Rowan Sommerset (work pictured) and Sarah Wilkins.

New Zealand makes spectacular Taipei debut

By News, TIBE
Stand small

The New Zealand Guest of Honour Pavilion

New Zealand’s landmark Guest of Honour participation at the Taipei International Book Exhibition is underway.

Muriwai Ihakara, Creative New Zealand’s Senior Manager Māori Engagement, blessed the national stand in the Taipei World Trade Center on Wednesday morning with a large delegation of New Zealand and Taiwanese publishers, authors, illustrators and officials in attendance.


Ngā Kete Tuku Iho carver Arekatera Maihi

After the official opening, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou spent time on the New Zealand stand with his large entourage – taking time to peruse the book displays and the live exhibition of Māori carving by Ngā Kete Tuku Iho carvers Arekatera Maihi and James Teepa.

Taiwan’s Minister of Culture Hung Meng-chi had represented the government the previous evening at the Gala Welcome Dinner hosted by the New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office (NZCIO) Taipei, in the city’s Grand Hyatt Hotel.

In a speech to the more than 200 guests, Minister Hung praised the cordial relations between New Zealand and Taiwan, and expressed his hope that the Guest of Honour programme would deepen our exchange of cultural relations.

Gala dinner

Ngā Kete Tuku Iho performers at the Gala Welcome Dinner

NZCIO Director Si’alei Van Toor, Publishers Association of New Zealand President Sam Elworthy, distinguished author Witi Ihimaera, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown and Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright also addressed the gathering.

The fair’s first day is seeing a busy flow of visitors to the New Zealand stand, with well-attended author sessions and publishers engaged in meetings with Taiwanese and other Asian counterparts.

Rounding out the day was a networking reception for education publishers, showcasing fine New Zealand wines.

Gearing up for Taipei 2015


TokotokosThere’s a buzz in the air at the World Trade Center exhibition hall in Taipei, as crews work to prepare stands and displays before tomorrow’s official opening of the Taipei International Book Exhibition (TIBE).

New Zealand’s Guest of Honour stand is taking shape – and how. The space for the busy seminar programme is framed by three giant, stylised tokotoko (orator’s sticks) constructed in reinforced paper, around which publishers have now filled their shelves with a wide range of New Zealand books.

performance spaceThe exhibition has drawn representatives of 17 New Zealand publishers, along with 22 authors, a Wellington Mayoral delegation, and representatives of the Publishers Association of New Zealand, Creative New Zealand, Education New Zealand, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and trade, and the local New Zealand Commerce and Industry Office (NZCIO) Taipei.

At a breakfast for the NZ delegation this morning at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, NZCIO Director Si’alei Van Toor emphasised the high promotional value for New Zealand of being this year’s Guest of Honour at TIBE.

NZCIO will also host a Welcome Dinner this evening, which will bring together leading Taiwanese government, cultural and publishing representatives with their Kiwi counterparts.