Judges Announced for 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

Award-winning writers and poets, former publishers, academics, long-standing booksellers and a well-known journalist are among the 12 people selected to judge the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

The Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, which offers $55,000 to the winner, will be judged by author, journalist and reviewer Mark Broatch; short story and non-fiction writer Nic Low (Ngāi Tahu) and Chris Baskett, a passionate reader of local fiction and an independent bookseller of 20 years’ standing. They will be joined by an international judge, whose identity will be revealed in March 2020, to decide the ultimate winner from their shortlist of four.

Finalists and the ultimate winner in the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry will be selected by publisher and acclaimed poet Kiri Piahana-Wong; poet Tim Upperton,whose collection The Night We Ate the Baby was an Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalist in 2016, and Phillippa Duffy, whose two decades in the book industry include publishing, board positions and seven years as general manager of University Book Shop Otago.

The General Non-Fiction Award will be judged by Hocken Librarian and experienced documentary and cultural heritage collections advisor Sharon Dell; respected bookseller, reviewer and practising artist Stella Chrysostomou and well-known journalist, presenter and voracious reader Guyon Espiner.

Odessa Owens, an award-winning publisher and Whitireia publishing programme tutor, is joined in judging the Illustrated Non-Fiction Award by Lana Lopesi, an independent critic, editor and author, and Hamish Coney,an award-winning writer, arts advisor and founder and former director of the auction house Art+Object.

Paula Morris, chair of the Ockham New Zealand Books Awards sub-committee of governing body the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, says this year’s judges come from all over New Zealand and bring a diverse and valuable range of experience, insights and expertise to the judging process.

“They are writers, booksellers, journalists, scholars, and they’re all committed to exploring and debating the excellent books published in New Zealand in 2019.”

The judges will advise their longlist of up to 10 books per category on 30 January 2020 and the 2020 shortlist of 16 books will be announced on 4 March.

The winners will be celebrated at an awards evening in Auckland held as a marquee event at the Auckland Writers Festival on Tuesday 12 May 2020.

The first round of submissions to the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards closes on 9 September 2019. Titles published between 1 January 2019 and 31 August 2019 must be submitted no later than 5pm on this date. Entries for titles published between 1 September 2019 and 31 December 2019 open on 10 September and close at 5pm on Wednesday 23 October 2019. Entries can be made via

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New Zealand, the Acorn Foundation, Mary and Peter Biggs, MitoQ and the Auckland Writers Festival, and are administered by the Festival on behalf of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust.