01 Jun 2011

This content is tagged as Literature .


Kiwis Take on the World in New Zealand Post Book Awards

This year’s New Zealand Post Book Awards finalists provide a feast of Kiwi experience, reflecting a growing and confident awareness of our unique place in the world, says Judging panel convenor and Te Reo Māori Advisor for the New Zealand Post Book Awards, Paul Diamond.

‘All the finalists enable us to see our world differently.  They tell great stories with pride, brightening our lives in this time of dark days.’

The four finalist categories announced in the New Zealand Post Book Awards today are: Fiction, Poetry, General Non-fiction and Illustrated Non-fiction.

The New Zealand Post Book Awards are the highlight of the literary calendar, eagerly awaited by writers, publishers, booksellers and the media, and recognised by the New Zealand public as the gold standard; honouring the cream of this country’s literary talent.

Diamond, a past judge of the New Zealand Post Book Awards, broadcaster, writer and historian, said that all four categories were strong this year. 

‘The Māori World was also significant in the work of many finalists, reflecting the reality of life in 21st century New Zealand.’

The judges commented on the large number of books entered in the Poetry category – nearly as many as for Fiction – illustrating the strength of poetry-writing and publishing in New Zealand. However, Diamond said, ‘entries in General Non-fiction were significantly down on the previous year, perhaps reflecting tougher times in the New Zealand publishing industry’.

Joining Diamond on the Awards’ judging panel are writer, educationalist and broadcaster, Charmaine Pountney; former mayor, ad man, environmentalist and lobbyist,Bob Harvey QSO;award-winning author and broadcaster,Emily Perkins; and acclaimed poet and editor,Michael Harlow.

The full list of finalists in the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards by category are:


The Hut Builderby Laurence Fearnley (Penguin Group NZ)

The Night Bookby Charlotte Grimshaw (Vintage, Random House NZ)

Their Faces Were Shiningby Tim Wilson (Victoria University Press)


The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Soulsby Kate Camp (Victoria University Press)

The Radio Roomby Cilla McQueen (Otago University Press)

Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English – Whetu Moana II by Albert Wendt, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan (Auckland University Press)


99 Ways into New Zealand PoetrybyPaula Green and Harry Ricketts (Vintage, Random House NZ)

Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of NZ Popular Music 1918-1964byChris Bourke (Auckland University Press)

Mune: An Autobiographyby Ian Mune (Craig Potton Publishing)

No Fretful Sleeper: A Life of Bill Pearsonby Paul Millar (Auckland University Press)

The Tasman: Biography of an OceanbyNeville Peat (Penguin Group NZ)


Brian Brake: Lens on the WorldbyAthol McCredie (Te Papa Press)

PounamubyRussell Beck, Maika Mason and Andris Apse (Viking, Penguin Group NZ)

Still Life: Inside the Antarctic Huts of Scott and Shackletonby Nigel Watson and Jane Ussher (Murdoch Books)

The Dress Circleby Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, Claire Regnault and Lucy Hammonds (Godwit, Random House NZ)

The Passing World: The Passage of Life: John Hovell and the Art of Kowhaiwhai by Dr. Damian Skinner (Rim Books)

The Category Award winners and the overall New Zealand Post Book of the Year winner will be announced at an awards ceremony to be held in Wellington on 27 July 2011.

With fewer categories than in previous years, the Awards’ prize pool has been substantially increased, with the overall New Zealand Post Book of the Year Award winner receiving $15,000.

Winners of the four Category Awards will each receive $10,000 and the People’s Choice Award winner $5,000. The People’s Choice Award is hotly contested each year and gives New Zealanders a unique opportunity to vote for their favourite book.

Also announced today are the three New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA) Best First Book Awards Winners

The Best First Book Awards for Non-Fiction, Poetry, and Fiction were established by the New Zealand Society of Authors with the aim of encouraging new writers and their publishers. Again this year, they are announced simultaneously with the New Zealand Post Book Awards category finalists.

Wellington writer, Pip Adam wins the 2011 NZSA Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction with her short story collection, Everything We Hoped for (Victoria University Press).

Diamond summarised Adam’s work as a powerful debut collection, taking the reader into often harrowing places where they are compelled to stay on account of the author’s lucid, controlled story-telling.

'The judges believe this new writer has a striking artistic vision, and the chops to carry off her unsentimental stories with humour and humanity.'

Dear Sweet Harry The 2011 NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry goes to Kapiti Coast writer, former psychologist and counsellor, Lynn Jenner, for her collection, (Auckland University Press).

Diamond said that the judging panel found Jenner’s work to be afascinating and quite original miscellany of lyric poems, short prose texts, historical-documentary material, and autobiographical personae – all gathered together around the historical figure of 'Dear Sweet Harry' Houdini, the exemplary escape artist and masterful illusionist.

Dunedin-based, Māoriacademic, Dr. Poia Rewi, wins the 2011 NZSA E.H. McCormick Best First Book Award for Non-Fiction for Whaikerero: The World of Māori Oratory (Auckland University Press).

The judges felt that Rewi’s book ‘managed the difficult feat of being both a valuable record and manual of Māori oratory for practitioners, and an accessible overview for anyone interested in this ubiquitous cultural practice.’

Each NZSA Best First Book Awards category winner receives $2,500.

New Zealand Post Group’s sponsorship of the country’s national book awards is symbolic of their strong and active support of the country’s literature. As sponsor of the New Zealand Post

Children’s Book Awards for 15 years, their sponsorship of these Awards highlights the company’s commitment to promoting literary excellence. Working closely with Booksellers NZ,

New Zealand Post and other dedicated segments of the community actively encourage New Zealanders to read and enjoy books.

The New Zealand Post Book Awards 2011 are also sponsored by Creative New Zealand.  The Awards are managed by Booksellers NZ and supported by the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.




  1. 01 June 2011: People’s Choice Award voting opens
  2. 08 July 2011: People’s Choice voting closes at 17:00
  3. 22 July 2011: National Poetry Day
  4. 27 July 2011: New Zealand Post Book Awards winners announced.


  1. Finalists are available for interview.
  2. NZSA Best First Book Awards winners are available for interview
  3. Judges convenor Paul Diamond is available for interview
  4. Author photographs, biographies, jacket images and title information are available
  5. Review copies are available.

For further information please contact: Sarah Thornton, Thornton Communications Ltd,  09 410 0093, 021 753 744, sarah.thornton@prcomms.com