Last week NZSA Canterbury announced the winners, runners -up and specially commended writers who had been selected by our judges in the Heritage Literary Awards. The competition was nation-wide and attracted entries from leading publishers and writers throughout New Zealand. All the judges – Prof Tom Brooking (nonfiction books), Fiona Farrell (novels), Owen Marshall (short prose) and Bernadette Hall (poetry) spoke of the high standard of the entries and the difficulty of making a decision.
The most popular section was for non-fiction books and there were nearly 40 of these -probably most of those that were published during the past year. The fiction category attracted around 20 entries and again they were of a high standard.
The function which was part of the Christchurch’s Heritage Week celebration was held in St Michael’s Church, a magnificent wooden building dating back to the 1870s and a very fitting venue.
Ngāi Tahu led by Sir Tipene O’Regan welcomed guests from all over New Zealand – nearly 100 attended. They also rose to celebrate the non-fiction winner Tāngāta Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu. This is a selection of biographical studies of various members of the iwi.
As judge Tom Brooking wrote:
This is a wonderful book. The fifty lively biographies bring these tipuna vibrantly to life. The quality of the entries is consistent throughout and credit must go to the highly qualified contributors and expert editors. And what a fascinating cast occupies the pages of this exceptional biographical dictionary. They range from well-known national figures through soldiers and even singers who became popular in London, to local community leaders little known outside their often remote localities. Despite their different lives in time and place each ancestor shared in common deep knowledge of southern Māori culture and tradition and fought long and hard to preserve it.
Helen Brown and Tarekei Norton, eds. Tāngāta Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu. Volume One. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu/Bridget Williams Books, Wellington/Christchurch.
The runner-up in this section was John Wilson with his study Local Lives: A History of Addington, Addington Neighbourhood Association/Caxton
Again the judge said:
John Wilson’s excellent suburban history of Addington is … another welcome addition to our rather sparse collection of studies of the places where the majority of people in cities live – the suburb.
The fiction prize went to Fiona Kidman for her new novel This Mortal Boy. Fiona Farrell who presented the award said that ‘it has been a real privilege to read such a wonderful book.’ This is the story of Albert Black, known as the ‘jukebox killer’. He, was only twenty when he was convicted of murdering another young man in a fight at a milk bar in Auckland on 26 July 1955. His crime fuelled growing moral panic about teenagers, and he was to hang less than five months later, the second-to-last person to be executed in New Zealand.
The runner us was David Hill for his Young Adult novel Finding and there was a special mention for Tree Worship by Jack Ross.
The short prose section was won by Caroline Barron of Auckland for her entry ‘Linette and Montague’. Owen Marshall said of the winner:
It has first person, present tense narration and this together with the crisp, contemporary language gives the piece pace and draws the reader in. The story is based on the narrator’s search in Archives NZ, Auckland, for evidence of a paternal grandfather, his relationship with Linette and their illegitimate child. The factual basis gives credibility and relevance, but the account of the search is enhanced by elements of surmise and speculation. As well imaginative touches add to the story, as when the narrator visualises the court room scene in which Montague Stanaway is ordered to pay expenses related to the birth of his child… A balanced, impressive short piece.
The runner up was Susan Cambridge with Dea’s Story – a tale of colonial society.
The poetry section was won by Lucy D’Ath: fight / flight. This suggested the horrific rhythm of the Christchurch earthquakes and the runner-up was Into the Audit by John Ewing
The full list of prize winners is as follows:
The winner is: fight / flight by Lucy D’Ath
The runner-up is: Into the Adit by John Ewen
Short Form – prose
Linette and Montague by Caroline Barron
Dea’s Story by Susan Cambridge
Helen Brown and Takerei Norton, eds. Tāngāta Ngāi Tahu: People of Ngāi Tahu. Volume One. Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu/Bridget Williams Books, Wellington/Christchurch, 2017. 352pp
John Wilson, Local Lives: A History of Addington, Addington Neighbourhood Association/Caxton, Christchurch, 2017. 320pp
John Newton, Hard Frost: Structures of Feeling in New Zealand Literature 1908-1945, Victoria University Press, Wellington, 2017. 368pp
Lachy Paterson and Angela Wanhalla, He Reo Wāhine: Māori Women’s Voices from the Nineteenth Century, Auckland University Press, 2017, 372pp
Grey Ryan and Geoff Watson, Sport and the New Zealanders: A History, Auckland University Press, 2018. 390 pp.
The winner is This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman. Penguin/ Random House
Runner up is Finding by David Hill Penguin/Random House
Special mention: Tree Worship by Jack Ross
I would like to thank our sponsors: the Christchurch City Council, Scorpio Books and Wily Publications Ltd.