Ockham NZ Book Awards 2024 judges announced as naming sponsor renews its support

Respected academics, curators, reading and arts advocates, award-winning writers, journalists and reviewers are among the 12 experts who have been selected to judge the 2024 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, whose naming sponsor since 2015, Ockham Residential, has just confirmed a further five-year commitment.

“For the past eight years we’ve been joyfully entangled with the Book Awards whānau with whom we share our name. Today I’m delighted to announce that we’re renewing our commitment for five more years, ‘’ says Ockham Residential co-founder Mark Todd.

“Critical thought and enquiry are at the heart of the Ockham ethos. We are pleased that the Ockhams have become a beloved part of Aotearoa New Zealand's cultural tapestry, offering the delicate stitch of prestige, coupled with the pragmatic thread of financial aid.”

The $65,000 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction will be judged by reading advocate and former bookseller Juliet Blyth (convenor); writer, reviewer and literary festival curator Kiran Dass; and fiction writer Anthony Lapwood (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Whakaue, Pākehā). They will be joined in deciding the ultimate winner from their shortlist of four by an international judge.

Judging the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry will be poet, critic, and editor Erik Kennedy (convenor); poet and performance writer Tru Paraha (Ngāti Hineāmaru, Te Kahu o Torongare ki Waiomio, Ngāti Te Tarawa); and author, editor and university lecturer Dougal McNeill.

The General Non-Fiction Award will be judged by respected journalist and academic Jim Tully ONZM (convenor), writer, editor, broadcaster and literary festival curator Kerry Sunderland; and academic, researcher and author Rebecca Kiddle (Ngāti Porou, Ngā Puhi).

The Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction will be judged by well-known former radio broadcaster and book reviewer Lynn Freeman (convenor); arts advocate and former festival director Marianne Hargreaves; and artist, curator and writer Ane Tonga.

New Zealand Book Awards Trust Te Ohu Tiaki i Te Rau Hiringa chair Nicola Legat says judging Aotearoa’s best books demands debate and consideration by informed and avid readers with diversities of experience.

“The New Zealand Book Awards Trust is delighted with the range and calibre of the 12 appointed judges for the 2024 Awards,” she says.

“And we are beyond thrilled that Ockham Residential – our cornerstone funder – has re-pledged its commitment. We have enjoyed a very warm relationship with Ockham for eight years now and their ongoing belief in the value of the awards is so affirming.”

The New Zealand Book Awards Trust is currently inviting entries for the 2024 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Online entries for titles published between 1 September 2023 and 31 December 2023 opened on Wednesday 12 September and close 5pm on Wednesday 25 October 2023. Submissions for titles published between 1 January and 31 August 2023 have closed.

Click here for eligibility criteria and a Call for Entries information pack, then enter online here.

The judges will advise their category longlists on 1 February 2024 and the 2024 shortlist of 16 books will be announced on 6 March. The finalists and winners will be celebrated on 15 May 2024 at an awards event held as part of the Auckland Writers Festival.

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New Zealand, the late Jann Medlicott MNZM and the Acorn Foundation, Mary and Peter Biggs CNZM, Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand, The Mātātuhi Foundation and the Auckland Writers Festival.




Juliet Blyth (convenor)

Reading has been central to Juliet Blyth’s life and career. Based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, she is the Chief Executive of Read NZ Te Pou Muramura and Deputy Chair of the Coalition for Books, and has been variously library assistant, bookseller, General Manager of Vic Books in Wellington, and Chair of Booksellers Aotearoa NZ.

Kiran Dass

Kiran Dass is a writer, reviewer and Programme Lead at WORD Christchurch. She has written about books and music for NZ Herald, NZ Listener, The Guardian, The Wire and North & South, and she regularly reviews books on RNZ.In 2020 Kiran was awarded a Michael King Writers Centre Residency, and in 2023 the Verb Wellington Writer’s Residency.

Anthony Lapwood

Anthony Lapwood (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Whakaue, Pākehā) is a fiction writer who lives in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. His first book, Home Theatre, won the Hubert Church Prize for Fiction at the 2023 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, and he was the recipient of the Louis Johnson New Writer’s Bursary. Anthony holds an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction from the International Institute of Modern Letters.


Erik Kennedy (convenor)

Erik Kennedy is a poet, critic, and editor based in Ōtautahi Christchurch. He is the author of Another Beautiful Day Indoors (2022) and There's No Place Like the Internet in Springtime (2018), which was shortlisted at the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Tru Paraha

Tru Paraha (Ngāti Hineāmaru, Te Kahu o Torongare ki Waiomio, Ngāti Te Tarawa) is a writer and choreographer whose internationally published texts include essays, performance writing, artists’ pages, and poetry. She has convened university courses on transnational and New Zealand literature and contributed to numerous local publications. Her sequence ‘in my darkling universe’ features in AUP New Poets 8 (2021).

Dougal McNeill

Dougal McNeill teaches in the English Literatures and Creative Communication Programme at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University Wellington. He has published widely on Australian, Canadian, and New Zealand literature and is the author or editor of five books of literary history and criticism.


Jim Tully (convenor)

Jim Tully ONZM headed the journalism course at Canterbury University for 25 years following a distinguished career in newspapers, including the inaugural New Zealand Journalist of the Year award in 1978, and senior positions at the Auckland Star and the 8 O’Clock News. He received an Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2011 national media awards. Jim now lives in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington.

Kerry Sunderland

Kerry Sunderland is a writer, editor, broadcaster, and curator of the Nelson Arts Festival’s literary programme, Pukapuka Talks. Her words have been published in Headlands: New Stories of Anxiety (2018), New Zealand Geographic, North & South, The Spinoff and numerous other magazines and anthologies in Aotearoa and Australia.

Rebecca Kiddle

Rebecca Kiddle (Ngāti Porou, Ngā Puhi) is Director of Te Manawahoukura Rangahau (Research) Centre at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. She is an author of Imagining Decolonisation (2020)and co-editor of Our Voices – Indigeneity and Architecture (2018) and Our Voices II – The De-colonial Project (2021).


Lynn Freeman (convenor)

During her 35 plus years with RNZ, Lynn Freeman was Chief Reporter (Dunedin), Executive Producer (Nine to Noon/ Sunday Morning) and long-time presenter of the arts programme, Standing Room Only. In January 2023, Lynn moved to Forest & Bird to advocate for nature. Living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington, she continues to review books on RNZ and regularly chairs book-related events.

Marianne Hargreaves

Marianne Hargreaves was Executive Director at WORD Christchurch Festival for 12 years. She has been involved in the arts for 25 years and in 2022 received an MNZM for services to the sector. She has held various positions within the Christchurch Arts Festival, Jazz Festival, and was Arts Advisor to the Arts Centre of Christchurch.

Ane Tonga

Ane Tonga is an artist, curator and writer, and is the inaugural Curator, Pacific Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. In 2021, she was appointed as a member of the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa, Creative New Zealand’s governing board.