The grant goes to Port Chalmers writer Majella Cullinane, whose winning proposal will utilise research drawn from the Auckland Museum Research Library Te Pātaka Mātāpuna o Tāmaki Paenga Hira’s extensive collections.
Majella Cullinane writes poetry, fiction and essays. She lives in Port Chalmers with her partner Andrew and their son, Robbie. Her 2018 debut novel The Life of De’Ath was shortlisted for the NZSA Heritage Book Awards and longlisted for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for Fiction. She has published two poetry collections Guarding the Flame, Salmon Poetry, Ireland 2011 and Whisper of a Crow’s Wing, Salmon Poetry and Otago University Press, 2018. The latter was chosen as The NZ Listener’s Top Ten Poetry Books of 2018. She has won the Kerrygold Prize for Short Fiction, been highly commended in the Seán O’Faoláin International Short Story Competition and the Frank Sargeson Short Story Prize, and shortlisted for several other short story and poetry awards in New Zealand, the UK and Ireland. She was the 2014 Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago, and in 2019 was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in Edinburgh. Last year she graduated with a PhD in Creative Practice from the University of Otago.
Judging panel convener Philippa Werry commented: “We found the wide range of projects submitted for this year’s grant both fascinating and enticing. The winner, Majella Cullinane’s short story collection based around the history, people, environment and landscape of Aotea/Great Barrier Island, captivated us with its proposed list of topics, including first contacts, family relations, murders and mining. The judges commented on the convincing sample extract, strong concept and good connections with the museum collection”.
The runner-up for this grant is Wellsford writer Jacqui McRae, whose historical novel project focusing on a little-known aspect of this country’s history, intrigued the selection panel.
The Judging panel, consisting of Philippa Werry, Sarah Ell and Geraldine Warren, Maori Resources & Matauranga Advisor, Collections, Information & Access, from the Auckland Museum, further commented: “The NZSA/Auckland Museum Research Grant is a unique grant, matching authors up to museum resources that can give them valuable insights for their work. As runner-up Jacquie McRae commented, “there is gold to be discovered in the collections.” The grant is obviously highly valued, given the high calibre of the applications, and we appreciated the effort and time that the authors had put into them. We felt privileged to read all these exciting projects and we send all the applicants our best wishes as they continue to work on them”.
We also congratulate those who were shortlisted for the grant. Shortlisted applicants – Henrietta Bollinger, David Howard and Cristina Sanders.
Now in its ninth year, The NZSA / Auckland Museum Research + Residency Grant is a wonderful opportunity for writers to develop a manuscript thanks to a stipend, guided access to the Auckland Museum’s documentary heritage collections and four weeks accommodation at The Michael King Writers Centre.
This opportunity is supported by the Nancy Bamford bequest to Auckland Museum. Nancy Richmond Bamford, an Auckland resident and local historian, was a life member of the Auckland Institute and Museum and a member of the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Federation of University Women. A long-standing supporter of the Auckland Museum library and, on her death in 1996, a generous bequest was made from her estate to the Auckland War Memorial Museum, to be used for Library purposes.
Adam Moriarty, Head of Collection Information and Access at Auckland Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira says, “Auckland Museum’s Heritage collection is a source of endless inspiration, and we’re once again delighted to invite New Zealand writers to explore it. The Museum’s research library holds manuscripts, ephemera, newspapers, periodicals, rare and contemporary books and pamphlets and so much more, and we can’t wait to see how these myriad sources might inform a new artistic or research endeavour.”
Past award winners have included historical novelists, archaeologists, biographers and playwrights.