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About the Awards
2023 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction winner Catherine Chidgey with L-R Fergus Barrowman (Te Herenga Waka University Press), Margot McCool (Acorn Foundation) and Fiction judge Stephanie Johnson

About the Awards

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are the country’s premier literary honours for books written by New Zealanders. First established in 1968 as the Wattie Book Awards (later the Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Awards), they have also been known as the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and the New Zealand Post Book Awards. Ockham Residential became the principal sponsor in 2015.

Awards are given for Fiction (the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction), Poetry (the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry), Illustrated Non-Fiction (the Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction) and General Non-Fiction. There are also four awards for first-time authors (the Mātātuhi Foundation Best First Book Awards) and, at the judges’ discretion, Te Mūrau o te Tuhi, a Māori Language Award.

Panels of three judges each are selected to judge each of the categories. Their longlists are announced in late January or early February, and the shortlist of 16 titles is revealed in early March. Winners are announced at an awards ceremony held in May each year, in collaboration with the Auckland Writers Festival. The 2023 ceremony was staged at the Kiri Te Kanawa theatre on Wednesday 17 May 2023.

Thanks to the generosity of the late Jann Medlicott, the winner of the fiction prize will receive $65,000 in 2024. Winners of the other three principal category awards each receive $12,000, as does the recipient of Te Mūrau o te Tuhi. Each of the four Mātātuhi Foundation Best First Book prizes is worth $3,000.

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are governed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust Te Ohu Tiaki i Te Rau Hiringa (a registered charity), which also administers the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day.

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