Kurangaituku is an extraordinary novel: unashamedly literary, utterly innovative and yet still irrevocably rooted in all that is te ao Māori. It’s an epic poem of a novel, resonant of Māori oral traditions, that gives a voice, form and a name to the bird-woman from the myth Hatupatu and the Bird-Woman. The ogress Kurangaituku tells us not only her side of the story but everything she knows about te ao Māori. It's not often longing and mourning, desire and revenge can be seen so clearly, so movingly, in a single book. Kurangaituku is poetic, intense, clever and sexy as hell. It’s also an important novel – a game changer.
JANN MEDLICOTT ACORN PRIZE FOR FICTION
Published by: Huia Publishers
BOOKSELLERS AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND AWARD FOR ILLUSTRATED NON-FICTION
Dressed: Fashionable Dress in Aotearoa New Zealand 1840 to 1910
Published by: Te Papa Press
Even those who believe themselves to be without interest in either clothing or our history will be seduced by Dressed. Readers will find themselves transported to other worlds, populated by people, indigenous and immigrant, both heartachingly familiar and surprisingly exotic. Beautifully illustrated and deeply researched, it is the complete package. Dressed is a valuable addition to our nation’s story and a great example of the possibilities of historical enquiry and non-fiction publishing.
GENERAL NON-FICTION AWARD
Voices from the New Zealand Wars | He Reo nō ngā Pakanga o Aotearoa
Published by: Bridget Williams Books
Vincent O’Malley’s book meets all the criteria for a great work of non-fiction. It is the fruit of close historical research and accessible to a wide readership. It tells us of the past but is relevant to the present when public debate feeds New Zealanders’ hunger to know how our country was formed. It is nuanced in its balance of both Māori and Pakeha voices and it respects the attitudes and assumptions of people who lived in an era different from our own. In bringing together these voices, O’Malley creates a coherent history of the New Zealand Wars, gives greater attention to wahine than earlier historians have, and deals carefully with contested events. The excellent book production is a credit to the publishers.
MARY AND PETER BIGGS AWARD FOR POETRY
Published by: Otago University Press
Tumble is a celebration of poetry and the long tradition that has led to this moment. Through her layering of art, re-imagining of historic moments and firm nods to poets past, Joanna Preston reminds us of Louise Gluck with her precise, evocative narratives, chiselled out of stone to reveal what was always there. Preston writes with pristine imagery and adept command of vocabulary while crafting her poetry to deeply satisfying musicality, rhythm and cadence. Simply written, yet dramatic and powerfully eloquent, each poem in this book is a banger. Tumble is an exhilarating read that hurls us across time and space giving us the sense that all of it – from Lucifer's fall to Christchurch's earthquake – is part of the same powerful play.
Crystal Arts Trust Best First Book Awards
HUBERT CHURCH PRIZE FOR FICTION
Greta & Valdin
Published by: Te Herenga Waka University Press
With her first novel Rebecca K. Reilly has created a modern classic. An Auckland book, a queer book, a Māori book, Greta & Valdin is equal parts wit and heart, with flawless dialogue and a diverse cast of memorable characters. A thoroughly enjoyable and undeniably clever book, Greta & Valdin sat comfortably alongside the novels by more experienced writers that made up the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction shortlist.
JUDITH BINNEY PRIZE FOR ILLUSTRATED NON-FICTION
The Architect and the Artists: Hackshaw, McCahon, Dibble
Published by: Massey University Press
A daughter’s clear labour of love has brought to light the little-known collaborative efforts of three creative individuals on twelve New Zealand buildings. Hackshaw has delved into archival material and paired this with an informative range of essays by expert contributors. A set of powerfully evocative photographs by the author provide a strong visual argument on their own. Her work is an intimate tribute and a classic example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
E.H. MCCORMICK PRIZE FOR GENERAL NON-FICTION
The Alarmist: Fifty Years Measuring Climate Change
Published by: Te Herenga Waka University Press
Dave Lowe’s book combines autobiography with his expertise in charting climate change over thirty years, in a way that is accessible and thought-provoking. The Alarmist provides insight into New Zealand’s contribution to the global scientific evidence base over a significant period of time. It is courageous in casting light on the systemic bias and political pragmatism that has ultimately contributed to the world’s climate emergency. The Alarmist can be read by a wide public and makes an important contribution to New Zealand’s literary canon.
JESSIE MACKAY PRIZE FOR POETRY
Published by: We Are Babies Press
Whai speaks to relationships with parents and childhood, with identity, with students, and with the self. Nicole Titihuia Hawkins writes with a masterful command of the English language, enhanced by ngā puna waihanga Māori, the inspirational creative springs of Māori culture and language, resulting in unique and powerful poetry. With gentle, compelling confidence Hawkins explores themes of colonisation, ancestry and education, without losing her sense of beauty and humour.
About the Crystal Arts Trust 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 the 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.