2019 Awards

ACORN FOUNDATION FICTION PRIZE

  • book

    This Mortal Boy

    Published by: Vintage, Penguin Random House

    Fiona Kidman

    Fiona Kidman

    In This Mortal Boy Fiona Kidman has written an intensely human and empathetic story, recreating the events leading to the real life hanging of “jukebox killer” Paddy Black at Mount Eden prison in 1955. With seeming effortlessness, she pulls the reader into mid-century New Zealand – the restlessness of a new urban youth culture, the moral panic that led to the Mazengarb report, the damning assumptions of the legal profession and the unchallenged omissions that eased the pathway to a young man’s death. Kidman draws her characters deftly, alternating between the bravado and vulnerability of Auckland’s young bodgie culture and the desperation of a poor and disempowered family in Ireland. The result is moving, memorable, authentic and urgently relevant to our times.

MARY AND PETER BIGGS AWARD FOR POETRY

  • book

    Are Friends Electric?

    Published by: Victoria University Press

    Helen Heath

    Helen Heath

    Helen Heath’s collection impresses with its broad thematic reach, its willingness to tackle complex issues, and its poetic risk-taking. By turns thoughtful and moving, Are Friends Electric? asks how the material world might mediate—or replace—human relationships. The experimental first half uses found poems to engage how artifacts—sex dolls, buildings—become objects of human passion. Technology is situated in relation to the natural world, and to issues of gender, sexuality and power. The elegiac second half offers a touching speculative narrative: A woman embeds her deceased partner’s personality into software to avoid letting go. Heath asks if friends can—or should—be electric, and probes deeper questions about what it means to be human.

ILLUSTRATED NON-FICTION AWARD

  • book

    Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing

    Published by: Te Papa Press

    Sean Mallon
    Sébastien Galliot

    Sean Mallon and Sébastien Galliot

    Excellence in an illustrated work of non-fiction is to be found in the flawless integration of text, illustration and design. Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing is the exemplar of those goals. Creating a cohesive whole that incorporates multiple writers and a wide range of illustrations and artworks is a difficult task, and this publication achieves this with authority, style and integrity. It is a visual feast, and at the same time celebrates the tactile pleasure of a book in the hand, and should be acknowledged as a milestone in contemporary publishing. And, most importantly, quality design is met with innovative writing that both records and opens up new territory, creating a book that will expand and enrich the knowledge of readers throughout Aotearoa, the Moana Pacific and beyond.

ROYAL SOCIETY TE APĀRANGI AWARD FOR GENERAL NON-FICTION

  • book

    Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love

    Published by: Otago University Press

    Joanne Drayton

    Joanne Drayton

    Set against the backdrop of the double act many of us will remember, Hudson & Halls reveals the humour and drama of this couple’s onscreen chemistry, and is a deeply moving and often surprising account of their private life. Set within the context of significant social and political moments over four decades and three countries, Joanne Drayton’s fresh approach to storytelling makes this a must-read. In its design, the kitsch flamboyance of the pair and the period is celebrated in a way that is quirky, engaging and in keeping with the tone and vibrancy of the couple. Hudson & Halls is not simply the story of celebrity chefs: it is a generous, multi-layered, and touching account of companionship and enduring love.

TE MŪRAU O TE TUHI - MĀORI LANGUAGE AWARD

  • book

    He Kupu Tuku Iho: Ko te Reo Māori te Tatau ki te Ao

    Published by: Auckland University Press

    Tīmoti Kāretu
    Wharehuia Milroy

    Tīmoti Kāretu and Wharehuia Milroy

    He tai mutunga kore te ranga whai reo e āki kau ana ki te aroaro o te tokorua kātuarehe, ngā ruānuku o te reo o nehe, ki nāianei rangi. He whāiti taua urunga, engari i konei ka wherawhera mai. He maioha tēnei nā Tīmoti Kāretu rāua ko Te Wharehuia Milroy, kia hou mai te tāura ki waenga pū i ā rāua kōrerorero, he kōrero paki, he hokinga mahara o te ohinga, ā, pakeke noa. He puanga rautangi ki te hauangi. Kapohia e te tini. He tatau e puare ana i tō rāua ao.

    Staunch advocates of our spoken reo have relentlessly sought to sit down with these two most influential exponents of reo Māori, from the past and for today. Few have had the opportunity, He Kupu Tuku Iho now opens that door. Tīmoti Kāretu and the late Wharehuia Milroy invite the reader into their conversations, their yarns and musings from decades of cultural experience. This book’s value is undeniable. Its language, accessible. This is a doorway to their world.

MitoQ Best First Book Awards

HUBERT CHURCH PRIZE FOR FICTION

  • book

    The Sound of Breaking Glass

    Published by: Mākaro Press

    Kirsten Warner

    Kirsten Warner

    In The Sound of Breaking Glass first time novelist Kirsten Warner presents a surreal, satirical and deeply moving story of multi-generational trauma. Through her central character Christel, we are confronted by the unresolved legacy of the Holocaust and the unaddressed corruption of adolescence. In revealing the impact of this history through an illusory censorious shape-shifter – Big Critic – and the Golem-like Milk Bottle Man, Warner takes her readers on a frenetic and ambitious narrative that tests the boundaries of storytelling. That she achieves this without compromising character or credibility is testament to her skills as a writer. The Sound of Breaking Glass is vivid, intelligent, funny and as compelling as it is inventive.

JESSIE MACKAY PRIZE FOR POETRY

  • book

    Poūkahangatus

    Published by: Victoria University Press

    Tayi Tibble

    Tayi Tibble

    In a year of strong first collections, Tayi Tibble’s remarkable book stood out. Poūkahangatus drew us in again and again with the strength of its voice, its narrative power, its formal experimentation, and the depth of the feelings it manifests and invokes. With an unsettling self-assurance, Tibble takes us on a tour of senses, scenes and a range of uncomfortable tropes that an Aotearoa audience may recognise as our own. Awkward and unequal power dynamics are battled out brutally on the page with a self-conscious attention to the ways the past plays out in the present. Her lyrical kaupapa draws us in to gaze at a two-way mirror through gestures that are by turns playful, angry, seductive and disquieting.

JUDITH BINNEY PRIZE FOR ILLUSTRATED NON-FICTION

  • book

    Whatever it Takes: Pacific Films and John O’Shea 1948-2000

    Published by: Victoria University Press

    John Reid

    John Reid

    Approaching an extensive archive for a first-time author is a daunting prospect, and one on which many an established biographical writer has come to grief. Whatever It Takes is an impressive debut, covering a complex story that highlights a unique part of our visual culture and social history. It is clearly written and carefully structured, with an approach to illustrations that is sympathetic to the original nature of the film-based imagery being reproduced. The design and illustrations create a richly contextual, evocative sense of the original time and place. The final result is a book that records a remarkable story and reflects an emerging non-fiction writer of great potential.

E.H. MCCORMICK PRIZE FOR GENERAL NON-FICTION

  • book

    We Can Make a Life

    Published by: Victoria University Press

    Chessie Henry

    Chessie Henry

    Beautifully written and highly engaging, Chessie Henry’s We Can Make a Life is a powerful and gripping story of a family coping with personal trauma in the midst of national tragedy. Told with warmth and curiosity, this is both a candid account of the impact of the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes on her family and a touching tribute to her adventurous parents. The beautiful writing is complemented by a considered approach to the design and production. An assured and compelling first book by an exciting new voice, this book is honest, compassionate, and in its coverage of personal responses to traumatic events is emotionally revealing without being sentimental.

About the MitoQ Best First Book Awards

The Hubert Church Prize for Fiction was awarded from 1945 by PEN NZ (later the New Zealand Society of Authors), and named for Hubert Church, a poet, novelist and critic who died in 1932.

The Jessie Mackay Prize for Poetry was awarded from 1940 by PEN NZ and named for the first locally born poet to achieve national prominence.

The Judith Binney Prize for Illustrated Non-Fiction is named for the late historian Dame Judith Binney, whose several ground-breaking books demonstrated her lifelong commitment to researching and writing about the history of New Zealand.

The E H McCormick Prize for General Non-Fiction is named for the late Eric McCormick, the eminent historian and biographer of Frances Hodgkins.