The NZSA Heritage Literary Awards 2021 shortlists revealed

It was no easy task for judges in this year’s NZSA New Zealand Heritage Literary Awards to shortlist 156 entries coming from all corners of Aotearoa.

The awards are in their eighth year, and have now become established on the New Zealand literary calendar. Past winners include Fiona Farrell, Witi Ihimaera, Whiti Hereaka and Brian Turner – last year’s major winners were Caroline Barron for  Ripiro Beach: A Memoir of Life After Near Death, and Fiona Kidman for All the Way to Summer.

 The Canterbury Branch of the National Society of Authors are incredibly grateful to our talented judges this year in establishing shortlists for each of the six categories.

Judges were guided by the festival theme of People and Place – our stories revealed, to establish those titles in contention. Works were submitted for fiction, non-fiction, children’s book, and also a book written in Te Reo Māori.

Below is this year’s shortlist, including judges’ comments here.

The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony to be held at St Michael and All Angels, 95-99 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch, 22 October at 7pm.



Children’s Books Section – Gavin Bishop

 DISPLACED by Cristina Sanders (Walker Books)

 I AM THE UNIVERSE by Vasanti Unka, (Puffin Books, Penguin Random House)

NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS by Maria Gill and Marco Ivancic, (Scholastic NZ Ltd)


Nonfiction Books Section – Katie Pickles and Sally Blundell

 ROCK COLLEGE :  An unofficial history of Mount Eden Prison by Mark Derby (Massey University Press)

COMMON GROUND: Garden histories of New Zealand by Matt Morris (Otago University Press)

THIS PĀKEHĀ LIFE: An unsettled memoir by Alison Jones (Bridget Williams Books)

THE PLATFORM: The Radical Legacy of the Polynesian Panthers by Melani Anae (Bridget Williams Books)

KIA WHAKANUIA TE WHENUA: People, Place, Landscape Edited by Carolyn Hill for Landscape Foundation (Mary Egan Publishing)


Fiction Books Section – Paula Morris

BUG WEEK by Airini Beautrais (Victoria University Press)

 EVERYTHING CHANGES by Stephanie Johnson (Vintage)

FAKE BABY by Amy McDaid (Penguin Random House)

 THE TALLY STICK by Carl Nixon (Vintage)

 THE PIANO GIRLS by Elizabeth Smither (Quentin Wilson Publishing)


Te Reo Māori Books Section – Charisma Rangipunga

HE ITI TE KUPU:  Māori metaphors and similes by Hona Black (Oraitia Books)

MIHI by Gavin Bishop (Gecko Press)

 Short Prose Section – Jane Higgins

A War of Thoughts and Waiting by Ruth Bayley

Angelina’s Clowns by Nandini Ghosh

Life a Duology by Jen Gibbs

Among the Cat Tails by Kayleen Hazlehurst

Now and Then by David Vass

Poetry Section – David Eggleton

Aberdeen Street (Lane) Christchurch by Antoinette Baker

Driving Through the Maruia Valley by Jeni Curtis


The Holiness of Attention by Michael Harlow


 Judge’s comments can be viewed here

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