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Ockhams’ 2019 Longlist Laden with Literary Luminaries

By January 31, 2019No Comments

Ockham Book Awards logo

Many of New Zealand’s literary heavyweights feature in the 40-strong Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlist announced today.

The latest works of Lloyd Jones, Fiona Kidman, Maurice Gee and Vincent O’Sullivan are among the rich and varied range nominated for the country’s premier book awards, now in their 51st year.  They sit alongside debutants and rising stars whose books traverse sweeping contemporary, cultural, historic, artistic and social landscapes.

Ten books are longlisted in each of the four awards categories – fiction, general non-fiction, illustrated non-fiction and poetry.

New Zealand Book Awards Trust chair Nicola Legat says the Awards received a large number of entries again this year and the standard was extremely high across all categories. “The judges would have had a challenging task and it’s very gratifying and exciting to see the mix of established writers and younger emerging talent across all the longlist categories,” she says. “This signals a very encouraging situation for New Zealand literature.”

The 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards longlisted titles are:

Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize:

The Man Who Would Not See by Rajorshi Chakraborti (Penguin Random House)

The Life of De’Ath by Majella Cullinane (Steele Roberts Aotearoa Ltd)

The New Ships by Kate Duignan (Victoria University Press)

Mazarine by Charlotte Grimshaw (Penguin Random House)

Caroline’s Bikini by Kirsty Gunn (Faber & Faber)

The Cage by Lloyd Jones (Penguin Random House)

The Ice Shelf by Anne Kennedy (Victoria University Press)

This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman (Penguin Random House)

The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke by Tina Makereti (Penguin Random House)

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


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

Filming the Colonial Past: The New Zealand Wars on Screen by Annabel Cooper (Otago University Press)

Song for Rosaleen by Pip Desmond (Massey University Press)

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

Memory Pieces by Maurice Gee (Victoria University Press)

The Heart of Jesús Valentino: A Mother’s Story by Emma Gilkison (Awa Press)

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

Swim: A Year of Swimming Outdoors in New Zealand by Annette Lees (Potton & Burton)

The Vulgar Wasp: The Story of a Ruthless Invader and Ingenious Predator by Phil Lester (Victoria University Press)

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

Dear Oliver: Uncovering a Pākehā History by Peter Wells (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)

Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, Collectors and the Māori World, 1880-1910 by Roger Blackley (Auckland University Press)

The New Zealand Horse by Deborah Coddington and photographs by Jane Ussher (Massey University Press)

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)

Mataatua Wharenui: Te Whare i Hoki Mai by Hirini Mead, Layne Harvey, Pouroto Ngaropo and Te Onehou Phillis (Huia Publishers)

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

Whatever it Takes: Pacific Films and John O’Shea 1948-2000 by John Reid (Victoria University Press)

Down the Bay: A natural and cultural history of Abel Tasman National Park by Philip Simpson (Potton & Burton)

Hillary’s Antarctica: Adventure, Exploration and Establishing Scott Base by Nigel Watson, photographs by Jane Ussher (Allen & Unwin)


Poetry Award:

Edgeland and other Poems by David Eggleton (Otago University Press)

The Farewell Tourist by Alison Glenny (Otago University Press)

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

All of Us by Adrienne Jansen and Carina Gallegos (Landing Press)

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

The Facts by Therese Lloyd (Victoria University Press)

Winter Eyes by Harry Ricketts (Victoria University Press)

Walking to Jutland Street by Michael Steven (Otago University Press)

Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble (Victoria University Press)

Aspiring Daybook: The Diary of Elsie Winslow by Annabel Wilson (Mākaro Press)



The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlist will be announced on 6 March, 2019. The winners (including the four Best First Book Awards and a Māori Language Award, presented at the judges’ discretion) will be announced at a ceremony on 14 May, held as the first public event of the 2019 Auckland Writers Festival.

To find out more about the longlisted titles go to

The Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize will award $53,000 in 2019. It is judged by journalist, reviewer and editor Sally Blundell, novelist and literary festival programme director Rachael King and novelist, short story writer and lecturer James George (Ngāpuhi). They will be joined by an international judge in deciding the ultimate winner from their shortlist of four.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction is judged by award-winning historian and academic Angela Wanhalla; academic and award-winning science writer Rebecca Priestley and curator, educator and writer Karl Chitham (Ngāpuhi).

The Illustrated Non-Fiction Award is judged by writer and commentator Douglas Lloyd Jenkins; art curator and writer Lucy Hammonds; and long-time bookseller Bruce Caddy.

The Poetry Award is judged by three award-winning poets: Massey University Associate Professor Bryan Walpert; creative writing teacher Airini Beautrais and Karlo Mila, Pasifika poet who runs an indigenous leadership programme.


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



Editors’ Notes:

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are the country’s premier literary honours for books written by New Zealanders and were established (as the Wattie Book Awards) in 1968. They are governed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust (a registered charity), which also governs the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day.

Ockham Residential Group 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.  The business has ambitions wider than profitability and has also established the Ockham Foundation, which aims to promote original thinking and critical thought — two key elements of widening the public discourse — via educational initiatives.

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. Since it was established in 2003, Acorn has distributed over $4.6 million. The Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize has been provided through the generosity of one of the Foundation’s donors, and is awarded to the top fiction work each year, in perpetuity. Its base figure of $50,000 will be adjusted each year, to reflect wage inflation.

Royal Society Te Apārangi is an independent not-for-profit organisation that supports all New Zealanders to explore, discover and share knowledge. Its programmes provide funding and learning opportunities for researchers, teachers and school students and with those who are simply curious about the world. Its elected Fellows help the Society to provide independent advice to New Zealanders and the government on issues of public concern.

Creative New Zealand provides a wide range of support to New Zealand literature and 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.

The Auckland Writers Festival is the largest literary event in New Zealand and the largest presenter of New Zealand literature in the world. Festival attendance in 2018 exceeded 74,000.