Skip to main content
Media Releases

New Zealand’s Book Awards Announce First-Ever Longlist

By November 26, 2015No Comments

Ockham Book Awards logoMedia release –  STRICTLY EMBARGOED UNTIL 12.01AM THURSDAY NOVEMBER 26, 2015

New Zealand’s Book Awards Announce First-Ever Longlist

The 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards’ inaugural longlist reveals a rich collection of works reflecting cultural and historical diversity and deeply rewarding poetry and prose from authors and illustrators all over the country.

There are 40 long-listed works; ten each from the four award’s categories – illustrated non-fiction, general non-fiction, poetry and fiction.

New Zealand Book Awards Trust chair Nicola Legat says the increasing number and calibre of locally published works is behind the introduction of a longlist.

“Authors have asked for a longlist for many years and it emerged as a clear preference after consultation with the wider literary community.

“A longlist more equitably showcases a wider number of books in a strong publishing environment where there is very close competition. It is a demonstration of how vital New Zealand literature is and how talented our writers are.”

The books were selected by four panels of specialist judges and are drawn from a record number of 240 entries.

“We thank our judges for their sterling work in creating this longlist. Their job has been especially challenging this year given the entry period represents a bumper crop of absolutely outstanding New Zealand books, published across all categories. There will be especial interest in the fiction prize given that the eventual winner will be awarded the Acorn Foundation Literary Award, worth $50,000,”says Ms Legat.

The 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlisted titles are:


The Antipodeans by Greg McGee (Upstart Press)

Astonished Dice: Collected Short Stories by Geoff Cochrane (Victoria University Press)

The Back of His Head by Patrick Evans (Victoria University Press)

Chappy by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House)

The Chimes by Anna Smaill (Hodder & Stoughton)

Coming Rain by Stephen Daisley (Text Publishing)

The Invisible Mile by David Coventry (Victoria University Press)

The Legend of Winstone Blackhat by Tanya Moir (Penguin Random House)

The Pale North by Hamish Clayton (Penguin Random House)

Reach by Laurence Fearnley (Penguin Random House)

Illustrated Non Fiction:

Zealandia: Our Continent Revealed by Nick Mortimer and Hamish Campbell (Penguin Random House)

My Family Table: Simple Wholefood Recipes from ‘Petite Kitchen’ by Eleanor Ozich (Allen & Unwin)

Hello Girls and Boys! A New Zealand Toy Story by David Veart (Auckland University Press)

Tuatara: Biology and Conservation of a Venerable Survivor by Alison Cree (Canterbury University Press)

Real Modern: Everyday New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s by Bronwyn Labrum (Te Papa Press)

Coast. Country.Neighbourhood.City edited by Michael Barrett (Six Point Press)

Te Ara Puoro: A Journey into the World of Māori Music by Richard Nunns (Potton and Burton)

New Zealand Photography Collected by Athol McCredie (Te Papa Press)

Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History by Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney, Aroha Harris (Bridget Williams Books)

Tramping: a New Zealand History by Shaun Barnett and Chris MacLean (Potton and Burton)

General Non Fiction:

Maurice Gee: Life and Work by Rachel Barrowman (Victoria University Press)

Terrain: Travels through a deep landscape by Geoff Chapple (Penguin Random House)

The Villa at the Edge of the Empire: One Hundred Ways to Read a City by Fiona Farrell (Penguin Random House)

Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House)

Lost and Gone Away by Lynn Jenner (Auckland University Press)

Kitchens: The New Zealand Kitchen in the 20th Century by Helen Leach (Otago University Press)

Panguru and the City, Kāinga Tahi, Kāinga Rua: An Urban Migration History by Melissa Matutina Williams (Bridget Williams Books)

Outcasts of the Gods? The Struggle over Slavery in Māori New Zealand by Hazel Petrie (Auckland University Press)

Journey to a Hanging by Peter Wells (Penguin Random House)

The Healthy Country? A History of Life and Death in New Zealand by Alistair Woodward and Tony Blakley (Auckland University Press)


The Art of Excavation by Leilani Tamu (Anahera Press)

Shaggy Magpie Songs by Murray Edmond (Auckland University Press)

How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes by Chris Tse (Auckland University Press)

The Night We Ate the Baby by Tim Upperton (Haunui Press)

Otherwise by John Dennison (Auckland University Press)

Mr Clean & The Junkie by Jennifer Compton (Mākaro Press)

Song of the Ghost in the Machine by Roger Horrocks (Victoria University Press)

Tender Machines by Emma Neale (Otago University Press)

The Conch Trumpet by David Eggleton (Otago University Press)

Dear Neil Roberts by Airini Beautrais (Victoria University Press)

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlist will be announced on 8 March 2016, and the winners (including the four Best First Book Awards and a Māori Language award) will be announced at a ceremony on May 10 2016, held as the opening night event of the Auckland Writers Festival.

To read about the longlisted titles go to

The Fiction category is judged by distinguished writer Owen Marshall CNZM; Wellington bookseller and reviewer Tilly Lloyd, and former Director of the Auckland Writers Festival and former Creative New Zealand senior literature adviser Jill Rawnsley.

The Poetry Prize is judged by former Auckland University Press publisher Elizabeth Caffin MNZM; James K Baxter expert Dr Paul Millar, of the University of Canterbury, and poet and University of Auckland academic Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh.

The General Non-Fiction Prize is judged by Metro Editor-At-Large Simon Wilson; Professor Lydia Wevers, literary historian, critic and director of the Stout Research Centre at Victoria University of Wellington, and Dr Jarrod Gilbert, a former Book Awards winner for Patched: A History of Gangs in New Zealand, of the University of Canterbury.

The Illustrated Non-Fiction Prize is judged by former publisher Jane Connor, publisher of the magisterial The Trees of New Zealand, which won the Book of the Year award in 2012; Associate Professor Linda Tyler, Director of the Centre for Art Studies at The University of Auckland, and Leonie Hayden, the editor of Mana magazine.


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

Editor’s Notes:

The 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 Awards and the New Zealand Post Book Awards. The honours, now given for Fiction, Illustrated Non-fiction, General Non-Fiction and Poetry, as well as for Best First Book and Māori language, are governed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust (a registered charity). Creative New Zealand is a significant annual funder of the awards.

Ockham Residential Limited is Auckland’s most progressive developer, founded in 2009 by Mark Todd and Ben Preston. They describe themselves as urban regenerators, who love Auckland, and who want to see Auckland’s urban built environment become as beautiful and as world class as its natural landscape. Their Ockham Foundation is a generous donor to schools and universities.

The Auckland Writers Festival is the largest literary event in New Zealand and the largest presenter of New Zealand literature in the world. Now in its 15th year, it hosts more than 150 writers from New Zealand and abroad over six days. Festival attendance increased 17 percent in 2015, to more than 62,000, following a 55 percent increase in 2014.

The Acorn Foundation is a community organisation based in the Western Bay of Plenty, which encourages people to leave a gift in their wills and/or their lifetimes, supporting 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 $2.4million, and this year expects to distribute a further $500,000. It currently has invested funds of $13million., or