New Zealand Society of Authors Waitangi Day Honours announced

New Zealand Society of Authors Waitangi Day Honours announced

Rachael King and Lee Murray are this year’s Honorary Literary Fellows in the New Zealand Society of Authors’ annual Waitangi Day Honours.

Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning writer and editor of science fiction, fantasy, and horror (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows) and a two-time Bram Stoker Award® nominee. She won two categories in the Sir Julius Vogel awards in 2019.

Rachael King is the programme director of WORD Christchurch, is an author and has had a long association with the New Zealand literary scene. She has been awarded NZSA Waitangi Day Honours for her international achievement in securing the release of Behrouz Boochani and bringing him to New Zealand. This upholds our international advocacy position for imprisoned writers, in line with our affiliation to Pen International.

NZSA President, Mandy Hager comments “Both these writers have greatly enhanced and expanded our literary landscape. As well as being an exceptional writer in her own right and the innovative programme director for Christchurch’s WORD Festival, Rachael King’s tenacity in bringing Behrouz Boochani to our shores (thanks to support from Amnesty International) resulted in a major human rights coup, enabling his freedom from detention, an action that sits well with our affiliation to PEN International, who work to defend freedom of expression and fight against the incarceration of writers worldwide.

Writing in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres, Lee Murray is the only New Zealander to twice be nominated for the international Bram Stoker Award, as well as winning twelve Sir Julius Vogel Awards and two Australian Shadow Awards. She has worked tirelessly to support young writers and, most recently, helped establish a new residency for local speculative writers.”

Lee Murray comments: I am stunned and humbled to receive this honour from the New Zealand Society of Authors. To be honest, it feels surreal, as if I’ve stepped through a portal into an alternative reality. On a personal level, this award is an indescribable boost, while also offering a welcome acknowledgment of the verve and innovation of New Zealand’s speculative and horror community, genres which serve to reflect on and reshape our society. Important work in these exciting and often turbulent times. I’d like to express my sincere thanks to the NZSA for this award, for its support of our literary sector, and for everything the organisation does to help our creatives tell their stories to the world.

Rachael King comments: “I am really chuffed to receive this lovely honour. I was worried when I took on the job of Programme Director at WORD Christchurch that it would put a stop to writing novels. I was right – it has been incredibly difficult to make the time, and, most importantly, the head space, for writing anything long form. But getting to work with, and elevate, other writers is thrilling and rewarding. It is also scratches the creative itch, and perhaps being a writer myself has given me a different perspective on how to devise events and run a festival. I love creating opportunities for writers, championing writers within the New Zealand arts eco-system, and using the connections I’ve made internationally to support our writers overseas. Working to bring Behrouz Boochani to New Zealand has been the highlight of my career. I am immensely grateful that this award from NZSA recognises the fact that literary festivals can make a difference in people’s lives.”

Lee Murray is a multi-award-winning writer and editor of science fiction, fantasy, and horror (Sir Julius Vogel, Australian Shadows) and a two-time Bram Stoker Award® nominee. With more than twenty titles to her name, Lee’s works for adults include the Taine McKenna military thrillers, and supernatural crime-noir series The Path of Ra (RSDP) which she co-writes with Wellington author Dan Rabarts. Among her books for youth are YA novel Misplaced, national ShortCuts novella winner Mika, and middle grade adventures Dawn of the Zombie Apocalypse (IFWG), and Battle of the Birds, a Sir Julius Vogel Award winner for Best Youth Novel. She is proud to have edited thirteen speculative works, including award-winning titles Baby Teeth: Bite Sized Tales of Terror and At the Edge (with Dan Rabarts), Te Kōrero Ahi Kā (with Grace Bridges and Aaron Compton) and Hellhole: An Anthology of Subterranean Terror (Adrenalin Press). With her colleague, author and educator Piper Mejia, Lee co-founded Young New Zealand Writers, an organisation which has offered development and publishing opportunities for New Zealand intermediate and secondary students for close to a decade. She is an ardent champion for New Zealand speculative fiction, serving as the programme director for national science fiction conferences Au Contraire 3 and GeyserCon, and co-founding the Wright-Murray Residency for Speculative Fiction Writers. More recently, she has encouraged a global discussion about well-being and creativity within the horror genre. Lee lives in the sunny Bay of Plenty where she conjures stories for readers of all ages from her office overlooking a cow paddock. Read more at She tweets @leemurraywriter

Rachael King has been the programme director of WORD Christchurch since 2013, and has a long association with the New Zealand literary scene. Her father was historian Michael King, and her mother and stepfather worked in publishing. Rachael is the author of two books for adults, and one for children. The Sound of Butterflies (2006) was published in nine languages and won the Hubert Church Award for Best First Novel. Magpie Hall (2009) was long-listed for the Dublin IMPAC award, and Red Rocks, for junior readers, won the Esther Glen Medal, New Zealand’s longest-running literary award. In 2008 Rachael held the Ursula Bethell Writer in Residence position at Canterbury University, which brought her to Christchurch for one year. She never left.

Previous honourees include Lani Wendt Young, Liam McIlvanney, Ashleigh Young, Associate Professor Selina Tusitala Marsh, Owen Marshall, Eleanor Catton and Anthony McCarten.

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