NZSA Heritage Book Awards 2022 – Winners announced

The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc) and the Canterbury branch of NZSA are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2022 NZSA Heritage Book Awards!

Link to audio for 2022 prizegiving ceremony

With many thanks to our judges, here are the winning books for the 2022 NZSA Heritage Book Awards:

  • Non-Fiction Book Winner: Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland by Lucy Mackintosh (Bridget Williams Books)
  • Fiction Book Winner: Harbouring by Jenny Pattrick (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • Te Reo Book Winner: Te Kōkōrangi, Te Aranga o Matariki Nā Witi Ihimaera, Nā Heni Jacob te whakamāoritanga, Nā Isobel Joy Te Aho-White ngā whakaahua (Puffin NZ, 2022)
  • Children’s Book Winner: Coastwatcher by David Hill (Penguin Random House NZ)
  • Poetry Book Winner: Unseasoned campaigner by Janet Newman (Otago University Press)
  • The Canterbury Branch NZSA Poem Winner: My Father, Nurse Maud and the Hospice by  Marjory Woodfield
  • The Canterbury Branch NZSA Short Prose Winner: In Search of Jane Deans by Nataliya Oryshchuk
  • Special Wily Prize for Canterbury region Winner: Uprising by Nic Low (Text Publishing)

Congratulations also to the runners-up and shortlisted, listed below along with judging comments.

Non-fiction Books: judged by David Veart and Julia Gatley

Winner: Shifting Grounds: Deep Histories of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland by Lucy Mackintosh (Bridget Williams Books)
Lucy Mackintosh’s revisiting of familiar Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland landscapes through new lenses, an approach she calls deep history, epitomises the contemporary need for well-researched histories that go beyond the obvious or well-known, peeling away layers to reveal not only the injustices that played out in nineteenth-century Aotearoa New Zealand, but also the cross-cultural exchanges and relationships that are often overlooked.

Runner-up: Uprising by Nic Low (Text Publishing)
Nic Low takes us on an exploration of Kā Tiritiri-o-te-moana like no other, whakapapa, history and a very personal engagement with the landscape come together to populate the Southern Alps with ancestors, gods and stories. The power of this book comes not only from the monumental landscape it explores but also from the author’s frank description of the struggle to find his place in it.

Short-listed: Toi Tu Toi Ora: Contemporary Maori Art by Nigel Borell (Penguin Random House NZ)
Linked to the Auckland Art Gallery’s 2020 exhibition of the same name, this survey of Māori art since the 1950s is a visual extravaganza, with a textured cover, a journey from darkness to light (literally black paper to white) and the sumptuous reproduction of a generous number of images.

Short-listed: How to Be a Bad Muslim and Other Essays by Mohamed Hassan (Penguin Random House NZ)
Poetic, tragic, astonishing, and at times very funny, Mohamed Hassan’s description of growing up in Aotearoa New Zealand as a Muslim immigrant is interspersed with airports, journeys, disturbing YouTubers and online gaming, with the terror attack in Christchurch always present. A book to change lives.

Short-listed: So Far, For Now by Fiona Kidman (Penguin Random House NZ)
Fiona Kidman is a wonderful writer and the third in her series of memoirs is both intimate and engaging. Most moving are her reflections on loss and grief; most insightful are her revelations about her writing processes; most evocative are her descriptions of time spent in Menton.

Short-listed: The Forgotten Coast by Richard Shaw (Massey University Press)
In this cleverly constructed book Richard Shaw provides a model for Pākehā New Zealanders to examine their colonial past and the problem of acknowledging it. A doctoral thesis written by an ancestor on the ‘evil of a lie’, a great-grandfather who was part of the invasion force at Parihaka and a family farm on Parihaka land combine to reveal a wider history.

Judges’ comments: Perhaps it was an effect of Covid but this year’s entries included a large number of memoirs, some written by established voices, others by people who may never write another book, we learned from them all.

The two award winners share a common thread: our stories as told by landscapes – one a city and the other a mountain range – and in these books people and land combine to create powerful and important narratives of space and time.

Fiction Books: judged by Philippa Werry

WinnerHarbouring by Jenny Pattrick (Penguin Random House NZ)
Set in 1840s Wellington, the growth of the new settlement is seen through the eyes of Huw and Martha Pengellin, poverty-stricken migrants from Wales and parents of Alfie, and Hineora, an outsider but a strong and fierce and outspoken woman. The Welsh migrant story has been little told and there are intriguing links drawn between Māori and Welsh culture and society at this time. With its enigmatic title and enticing cover, this book provides a vivid description of early meetings, misunderstandings and attempts to communicate between Māori and Pakeha, underpinned by fact and actual events but filled with characters whom we care about and want to see succeed.

Runner-up: How to loiter in a turf war by Coco Solid (Penguin Random House NZ)
The story follows three young women: Q, Te Hoia and Rosina, as they wait for and ride buses and visit family, shops and an art gallery exhibition on a hot summer’s day in Tāmaki Makaurau. Told in vivid energetic language, the book is a mix of fast-moving dialogue, (fictional) university essays, artwork and poems, showing the three friends negotiating their way through an Auckland of gentrification where organic markets are replacing market gardens, real estate agents hassle old ladies in their houses to win another open home and casual racism underlies everyday encounters.

Judge’s comments: The fiction section attracted 17 entries which captured some fascinating ‘milestones and moments’, including balloonists in the 1890s, land girls and Wrens doing top secret work in WW2, Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh’s 1948 Old Vic tour of Australia and NZ and the Muldoon years and anti-nuclear protests of the 1980s. Settings varied from Te Waipounamu (past and present) to a rundown apartment building in Wellington that was once a theatre and a radio factory and a convincingly squalid boarding house in Napier.

Te Reo Māori Books: judged by Vaughan Rapatahana

Winner: Te Kōkōrangi, Te Aranga o Matariki Nā Witi Ihimaera, Nā Heni Jacob te whakamāoritanga, Nā Isobel Joy Te Aho-White ngā whakaahua (Puffin NZ, 2022)
He pukapuka tino mīharo tēnei! What a wonderful book! An adventure so relevant to everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand, especially as Matariki is finally a public holiday for all. Brilliant artwork throughout, and a cogent translation of Witi Ihimaera’s English-language version The Astromancer, The Rising of Matariki. What is more, is that this is written in te reo Māori throughout. Pai rawe, mō te wā! He taonga hei mahara.

Runner-up: Blimmin’ Koro/ Kātahi rā e Koro e!Jill Bevan-Brown, Trish Bowles ngā whakaahua (Oratia, 2021)
Blimmin’ Koro/ Kātahi rā e Koro e! Nā Jill Bevan-Brown, Trish Bowles ngā whakaahua (Oratia, 2021). He pukapuka āhuareka tēnei! A delightful book! Jill Bevan-Brown has transported her real-life experiences into a lovely, positive and loving bilingual tale of manaakitanga. What seems like a ‘children’s book’ is, in fact, open for all ages to share, smile, savour. Tēnā koutou katoa mō tēnei pukapuka.

Judge’s comments: Tēnā koutou katoa mō tēnei kōwhiringa – thank you all for this opportunity. It is gratifying to see such excellent examples of ngā pukapuka – for all ages – written, if not completely in te reo Māori, as bilingual texts, all with outstanding artwork. My only comment is that we – everyone in this country and beyond – hope to, and indeed need to, see more entries in this key category next year and beyond.

Children’s Books: judged by Kyle Mewburn

Winner: Coastwatcher by David Hill (Penguin Random House NZ)
A young man’s harrowing, life-changing ordeal is vividly portrayed in this YA novel set in the Solomon Islands during WW2. Coastwatcher is a tense, finely-detailed page-turner.

Runner-up: Torn Apart by Swapna Haddow (Scholastic)
The impacts of partition on a personal scale are finely wrought in this engaging, historically lush tale.

Judge’s comments: The exceptional standard of entries, traversing a diverse range of themes, historical moments and locales, made selecting a winner incredibly difficult. While there were a number of worthy titles in contention, the final decision was distilled from this year’s theme — Our stories: Milestones and Moments.

Poetry Books: judged by Kiri Piahana-Wong

Winner: Unseasoned campaigner by Janet Newman (Otago University Press)

Regardless of whether you are a keen meat and dairy consumer or quite the opposite, farming has helped to shape the history of New Zealand and is an important part of our heritage. In Unseasoned campaigner, Janet Newman provides a nuanced take on the complexities of a farmer’s life and the realities of the role. The book is a challenging, insightful and surprisingly lyrical read.

Runner-up: The Pistils by Janet Charman (Otago University Press)

Whatever topic Janet Charman turns her poetic gaze to in The Pistils is brought into immediate sharp relief. Whether she is writing about a family walk up a mountain, environmental crises, sexual politics, mortality, bereavement or eating buttered hot potatoes in blackened foil at Mangawhai beach, no one illuminates life in New Zealand quite like her.

The Canterbury Branch NZSA Poem: judged by Joanna Preston

Winner: My Father, Nurse Maud and the Hospice by Marjory Woodfield

Runner-up: Imagine a woman by Karen Zelas

The Canterbury Branch NZSA Short Prose: judged by Carl Nixon

Winner: In Search of Jane Deans by Nataliya Oryshchuk

Runner-up: Moments in Time – Memories of Christchurch Tramways  by Angela Pope

Special Wily Prize for Canterbury region

(Wily Publications Ltd prize for the best non-fiction book about the heritage of the Canterbury /West Coast region. Categories in this section can include heritage, memoir or biography)
Winner: Uprising by Nic Low (Text Publishing)

Winners of the Fiction and Non-fiction book awards each receive $1000; Te Reo Māori book award, Children’s book award, and Poetry book award winners will receive $300 each. Judges were guided by the theme of the Christchurch Heritage Festival 2022:  Our Stories – Milestones and Moments.

The winners were announced at the Awards Ceremony held at St Michael and All Angels, 95-99 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, on Thursday, 20 October at 7pm.

The NZSA Heritage Book Awards are proudly bought to you by the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (NZSA) and celebrate New Zealand writers who have published work in the previous year to the opening date of the awards. First established in 2014 by the Canterbury branch of NZSA, the awards are now well established on the New Zealand writers’ calendar. The awards are open to self-published and traditionally published books and have inclusivity and diversity at the heart of their kaupapa.

These awards are in their ninth year, and past winners include Fiona Farrell, Witi Ihimaera, Whiti Hereaka, Brian Turner, Caroline Barron, and Fiona Kidman. In 2021 the winners of the book awards were ROCK COLLEGE: An unofficial history of Mount Eden Prison by Mark Derby (Massey University Press), EVERYTHING CHANGES by Stephanie Johnson (Vintage), I AM THE UNIVERSE by Vasanti Unka, (Puffin Books, Penguin Random House), HE ITI TE KUPU:  Māori metaphors and similes by Hona Black (Oratia Books).

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