Pioneering journalist and publisher, Dame Christine Cole Catley and journalist and author Steve Braunias were each presented with a CLL Writers’ Award – one of New Zealand’s richest non-fiction writing prizes –at a ceremony held in Auckland on 16 September.
Dame Christine – who trained and mentored many of today’s writers and journalists – was awarded the $35,000 prize to write her autobiography, Getting Ready.
As an octogenarian who has always agitated for social change, Dame Christine was at the forefront of many of the country’s pivotal cultural turning points: as tutor in charge of New Zealand’s first journalism training course she won the battle for a 50:50 male/female student ratio, as co-founder of the Parent’s Centre she established courses for expectant parents and fought for the right of parents to visit sick children in hospital.
CLL Writers’ Awards judges’ convenor Jenny Robin Jones says Dame Christine Cole Catley’s proposed autobiography will look back at a life-time’s changes in New Zealand society.
‘Chris has worked with many outstanding people in literature, the arts, teaching, publishing, politics, health reform, parent education and mental health. She has the knowledge and talent to write from the heart about her relationships with seminal New Zealand writers such as Janet Frame, Frank Sargeson and those, like her great friend Michael King, who took New Zealand writing into the modern period.
‘Her project promises to be both highly personal and scrupulously candid.’
Satirist, columnist and author, Steve Braunias received the second $35,000 CLL Award for his work, New Zealand: The Biography.
Braunias’s work will examine New Zealanders’ spirit and psyche in a series of observational essays about 22 specific locations around the country. ‘The book aims to show’, says Braunias ‘that New Zealanders are a passionate people with a sense of profound – and sometimes profoundly troubled – sense of belonging to where they live.’
Jones says Steve Braunias’s particular skill is to manoeuvre oblique subjects until they yield surprising insights into the life and times of mainstream New Zealand society.
‘Steve’s writing is original, intuitive, and incisive. He exercises a shrewd judgement of well-known political figures, but in books and columns he has also explored the margins of this country: the natural margins populated by mud and mangroves, also the social margins with its oddball and sometimes tragic inhabitants.
‘If Dame Christine’s proposed work is decades deep and reflective, the book proposed by Steve Braunias, will be utterly contemporary.’
Earlier this year CLL Writers’ Award recipient Paul Millar’s biography No Fretful Sleeper: A Life of Bill Pearson was published to critical acclaim as were Award recipient Hazel Riseborough’s Shear Hard Work: A History of Shearing in New Zealand and Jeffrey Paparoa Holman’s Best of Both World’s.
Established in 2002, the CLL Writers’ Awards are financed from copyright licensing revenue received by Copyright Licensing Limited (CLL) on behalf of authors and publishers.
CLL/NZSA Research Grants – winners
For the third year, CLL in association with the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) presented two research grants for fiction or non-fiction.
Award-winning Wellington writer Rebecca Priestley won the Stout Centre Research Grant. The prize will support research for her next anthology, The Awa Book of Antarctic Science.
The Open Grant went to Bradford Haami (Ngati Awa, Ngati Kahungunu, Tuwharetoa, Ngai Tahu) for a book he is currently co-writing with Māori Naturalist, Ramari Stewart on Whale Traditions of the Māori. The book will explore the story of whales in the New Zealand environment from a Māori perspective. It will highlight the long association Māori have had with whales in the pre-whaling era and bring to light the special place whales have in Māori culture and tradition.
Both winners received $3,500.