Skip to main content
News Archive


By August 2, 2012No Comments

MEDIA RELEASE – for immediate release

A landmark book – New Zealand’s Native Trees by John Dawson and Rob Lucas – has won the country’s supreme publishing accolade, The New Zealand Post Book of the Year.

The book  which took seven years, more than 100,000 four-wheel-drive kilometres and countless hours’ walking in dense forest to complete  was presented with the honour by the Hon. Christopher Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture & Heritage at a gala dinner ceremony in Auckland.

New Zealand Post Book Awards judges convenor, Chris Bourke said on behalf of the judging panel that New Zealand’s Native Trees is a masterly example of publishing of the kind that is seen only once in a generation.

“From the detailed and authoritative research, accessible and comprehensive writing, detailed yet expansive photography, near flawless editing, design and layout this is a quality book from start to finish. Its impact on the community and on generations to come is self-evident.”

The book contains more than 2,300 photographs, many of which took photographer Rob Lucas several visits to some of the country’s most inaccessible areas to capture. The book also won the Illustrated Non-Fiction Category.

Internationally recognised novelist and creative writing teacher, Paula Morris (Ngati Wai) is this year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards Fiction Category winner for her work, Rangatira.

The historical novel which is based on Morris’ tupuna (ancestor), Paratene Te Manu’s 1863 visit to England, was exhaustively researched.

Mr Bourke said the judges were impressed by the refreshing purity of purpose to Morris’ story-telling.

“It never seems jaded or cynical or calculating; instead the struggle to comprehend otherness is rendered perceptively, directly, consistently  and compellingly.”

Sue Orr, former speechwriter to Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright, took this year’s People’s Choice Award for her short story collection, From Under the Overcoat. The award is much-coveted by authors as a reflection of their book’s popularity.

Journalist, playwright, author and producer Chris Winitana (Ngati Tuwharetoa and Ngai Tuhoe) was presented with the New Zealand Post Māori Language Award for his book, Tōku Reo, Tōku Ohooho: My Language, My Inspiration;  a book that explores the struggle to save the Māori language over the last 40 years.

New Zealand Post Book Awards judge and Māori language advisor, Paora Tibble said that as a te reo Māori publication, Tōku Reo, Tōku Ohooho is groundbreaking.

“Chris Winitana mixes traditional language with modern metaphors. He shows te reo Māori as a living language; creating new contexts for words and phrases buried in our not too distant past. His knowledge of te reo is remarkable.

“With this book, Chris Winitana takes us on the adventure of a lifetime. For 40 years, Māori have fought to revitalise their language. This is their story.”

Rhian Gallagher's second collection, Shift, which encompasses a departure from London where she lived for 18 years, and a return to New Zealand, her country of birth, won the Poetry Category Award.

Mr Bourke commented that Rhian Gallagher’s collection was an example of lyrical poetry at its very best.

“The poems offer elegance, mysteriousness, musical harmonies, satisfying quietness and subtle emotions. Sounds and themes stitch the collection with an assured and unifying touch. You fall upon little autobiographical traces in the shadows, traces that are both moving and intense.”

Historian and novelist, Joan Druett won the General Non-Fiction Category Award for her work, Tupaia: The Remarkable Story of Captain Cook’s Polynesian Navigator.

“Tupaia’s richly detailed drawings and paintings are a precious legacy and are stunningly reproduced in a book which will intrigue and inspire. Everything about Tupaia reflects Druett’s careful research and passion for her subject.

“This is a wonderful book.”

The full list of 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards winners is as follows:

New Zealand Post Book of the Year winner:

New Zealand’s Native Trees by John Dawson & Rob Lucas (Craig Potton Publishing)

Fiction Award winner:

Rangatira by Paula Morris (Penguin Group, NZ)

Poetry Award winner:

Shift by Rhian Gallagher (Auckland University Press)

General Non-Fiction Award winner:

Tupaia: The Remarkable Story of Captain Cook’s Polynesian Navigator by Joan Druett (Random House NZ)

Illustrated Non-Fiction Award winner:

New Zealand’s Native Trees by John Dawson & Rob Lucas (Craig Potton Publishing)

Māori Language Award winner:

Tōku Reo, Tōku Ohooho: My Language, My Inspiration by Chris  Winitana (Huia Publishers)

People’s Choice Award winner:

From Under the Overcoat by Sue Orr (Vintage, Random House NZ)

The New Zealand Post Book of the Year Award winner received $15,000. The Māori Language Award winner and the winners of the four Category Awards each received $10,000 and the People’s Choice Award winner $5,000.

The winners of the 2012 New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) Best First Book Awards  announced earlier this year  were also honoured tonight. They are:

NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction:  Hamish Clayton for Wulf (Penguin Group, NZ).

NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry: John Adams for his collection Briefcase (Auckland University Press).

NZSA E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for Non-Fiction:  Michael Smythe for New Zealand by Design (Random House, NZ).

Each NZSA Best First Book Awards category winner received $2,500.

New Zealand Post’s sponsorship of the national book awards reflects their long-standing support for literacy and education. They maintain that focus throughout the year with initiatives such as, creative writing contests for school students, and the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards which they have sponsored for the past 16 years. That commitment to promoting literacy, excellence in writing and the joy of reading sees New Zealand Post play a key role in supporting other champions of literature, such as Booksellers NZ, to promote and reward local literary talent.

The 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards are also funded by Creative New Zealand. The awards are managed by the Book Awards Governance Group administered by Booksellers NZ and supported by the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.


  • Winners are available for interview
  • Awards convenor, Chris Bourke is available for interview
  • Review copies of winners books are available
  • Author images and book jacket images are available for reproduction