15 May 2011
New Zealand’s rarest parrot, the kakapo, is the engaging subject of the winning book for the Royal Society of New Zealand’s 2011 Science Book Prize, announced tonight in Auckland.
The book, ‘Kakapo – Rescued from the Brink of Extinction’, was written by broadcaster and zoologist Alison Ballance and published by Nelson based Craig Potton Publishing.
It tells the story of how one of New Zealand’s most charismatic but endangered birds was saved from possible extinction through the efforts of a dedicated group of people. The author has been involved in the kakapo conservation programme since 1994.
The 2011 Science Book Prize was judged by science and literature experts from three New Zealand universities and selected from a shortlist of three titles. Alison Ballance receives a prize of $5000 for her winning book.
The judges described the book as being written with ‘clarity and humour’. “Along the way, each bird becomes a character in his or her saga, so the reader rejoices with the hatching of every egg and is saddened by the passing of every old kakapo.”
The Royal Society of New Zealand, our national science academy, established the prize for popular science books in 2009 to celebrate the very best in this genre. It aims to encourage the writing, publishing and reading of good and accessible popular science books.
Chief Executive of the Royal Society of New Zealand, Dr Di McCarthy, said the standard of books submitted for the award was outstanding and the winning book would be a wonderful addition to home libraries.
“This book shows how New Zealand’s science efforts can be written about in a way which is very engaging for the general reader. We hope more authors will take on the challenge of writing about science as there is a wealth of stories waiting to be told.”
Barbara Strauch, science editor for the New York Times, announced the winner at an event in Auckland as part of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.