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Wellington independent wins Publisher of the Year

By September 30, 2021October 5th, 2021No Comments

Last night, booksellers and publishers gathered online in anticipation of the 2021 Aotearoa Book Trade Industry Awards, hosted by PANZ Te Rau o Tākupu and Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand.

One of the most sought-after awards of the night is the Nielsen Book Publisher of the Year award. It is always an exceptional category with a high calibre of entries and this year was no different.

The last year has been a good time for NZ publishing, an amazing achievement when looking through a Covid lens.

The judges commented that the winning publisher nurtured to life an extraordinary work that became a cultural phenomenon, brought an unknown Māori author into the stratospheric heights of Once Were Warriors and Mr Pip.

“They now appear to have a mortgage on the MitoQ Best First Book of Fiction Award too! Becky Manawatu’s Auē has elevated this year’s winner exponentially, and the judges felt it was the culmination of authorial support, editorial intelligence, cultural sensitivity, deep relationships with booksellers and the undefinable eye for talent that made this award both richly deserved, and one we believed was likely inevitable.

“The winner is a publisher that took their expertise and an appetite for risk and made outstanding contributions to NZ literature. The 2021 Nielsen Book Publisher of the Year is Mākaro Press.

Mākaro Press Publishers Mary McCallum & Paul Stewart were thrilled with the win. Mary made special thanks to New Zealand’s booksellers – “one of the great professions”. She said, “Every day I am amazed and moved by your commitment to New Zealand books, stories and publishers.”

The Director of the Publishers Association New Zealand Catriona Ferguson said: “Despite the turmoil of the past eighteen months it’s heartening to see the range and depth of publishing in Aotearoa. And it’s especially exciting to witness the growth of newer publishers like Mākaro Press who are taking fresh and original voices to readers in Aotearoa and the world. Many hearty congratulations to Mary and the team for their fantastic achievement that the work Mākaro Press publishing in NZ fiction is noteworthy.”

Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Chief Executive Dan Slevin says, ‘Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand congratulates all those publishers that entered, the standard of local New Zealand publishing is phenomenal, and the quality of the work being produced makes these books a pleasure for our members to sell.’

The Book Trade Industry Awards have been recognising the best New Zealand publishers, booksellers and industry stalwarts for over 20 years. They are a chance for the book trade to celebrate the best and brightest, successes and innovations, and to acknowledge the excellent work being done in the New Zealand book trade.

The Book Industry Awards are organised by Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand and PANZ Te Rau o Tākupu (the Publishers Association of NZ) and sponsored by Nielsen Book, providers of data and statistical insight to the whole industry.

Other categories on the night awarded were:

  • Emerging NZ Publisher of the Year – Rachel Eadie, Penguin Random House New Zealand
  • Emerging NZ Bookseller of the Year – Rafael Moreira, of McLeods Booksellers (Rotorua)
  • Bestseller Award (for top seller buy volume and value between April 2020 and March 2021) –Supergood by Chelsea Winter
  • Marketing and Publicity Strategy of the Year – HarperCollins NZ for Impossible: My Story byStan Walker, campaign manager Rebecca Thorne
  • Aotearoa Booksellers’ Choice Award – Shared between Auē by Becky Manawatu (published by Mākaro Press) and Imagining Decolonisation by Rebecca Kiddle & Bianca Elkington & Moana Jackson & Ocean Mercier & Mike Ross & Jennie Smeaton & Amanda Thomas (published by BWB)
  • NZ Salesperson of the Year – Jessica Rice, Penguin Random House New Zealand
  • NZ Book Industry Innovation Award – Allen & Unwin
  • Nielsen Book NZ Bookshop of the Year – Schrödinger’s Bookshop (Petone)
  • Lifetime Achievement Award – Bridget Williams of BWB


Robbie Egan
Robbie Egan is the CEO of the Australian Booksellers’ Association. Egan came to his current role from being group operations manager at Melbourne independent book chain Readings, and has had a long career in bookselling.

Anahera Morehu
Anahera is currently the Kaiārahi at the University of Auckland, Waipapa Taumata Rau (UoA) Faculty of Business and Economics. Prior to that she was the Kaiwhakahaere Toi Aronui me Māori me Moananui-a-Kiwa at Te Tumu Herenga, University of Auckland. She is currently the Tumuaki Tuakana (Immediate Past President) of Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa (LIANZA). She is a member of LIANZA Professional Registration Board and Māori Subject Headings Governing Group. She also sits on Ngā Kaiwhakahau, Executive for Te Rōpū Whakahau.

She is the convenor of judges for the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for Te Reo Māori at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Peter Vial
Peter is the New Zealand Head of CA NZ, the professional body for chartered accountants. He is a member of the Board of Read NZ Te Pou Muramura and a trustee of the Mātātuhi Foundation, which was set up by the Auckland Writers Festival to support development of New Zealand’s literary landscape. In his spare time he is an avid reader and bookshop browser.