Thursday, August 2, 2012

Report on experience: NZ Post book awards 2012

To Auckland yesterday for a meeting with an author I’m editing, a long lunch with writer friends followed by a martini with my favourite big-time bookseller upstairs at DeBretts, and then I was a guest of the Listener at the NZ Post Book Awards event which was a great success and ended at 1:30 a.m. 

Among the highlights of the evening: meeting novelist Hamish Clayton, author of the brilliant Wulf; meeting poet Dinah Hawken, author of the wonderful The Leaf-Ride; kissing Jennifer Ward-Lealand; catching up with old friends – all the usual benefits of attending the awards and not having performance anxiety. But the very best bits were when:
1. Te Reo advisor Paora Tibble presented Chris Winitana with the Maori Language Award for his book Toku Reo, Toku Ohooho: My Language, My Inspiration and spoke for 10 minutes or more in Maori. No concession given. Excellent.
2. Sam Elworthy of AUP introduced Michael Cullen, there representing NZ Post, as “the horrible Michael Cullen”. Well, that’s what it sounded like at our table.
3. Things were winding down and the more convivial among us decided to repair to the hotel where the out-of-towners were staying to continue discussions in the bar. We all got more and more amusing and attractive as the night wore on. 
Full details of the winners with judges’ comments are here, but in brief:

Book of the year
New Zealand’s Native Trees by John Dawson and Rob Lucas (Craig Potton Publishing)
Rangatira by Paula Morris (Penguin)
Shift by Rhian Gallagher (AUP)
General non-fiction
Tupaia: The Remarkable Story of Captain Cook’s Polynesian Navigator by Joan Druett (Random House)
Illustrated non-fiction
New Zealand’s Native Trees by John Dawson and Rob Lucas (Craig Potton Publishing)
Maori language
Toku Reo, Toku Ohooho : My Language, My Inspiration by Chris  Winitana (Huia)
People’s choice
From Under the Overcoat by Sue Orr (Random House)

Both Sue Orr and Paula Morris have held the Buddle Findlay Sargeson fellowship. When I get the Frank Sargeson website, which I’ve been working on for more than a year (embarrassingly), online to the public next week, this will be the Sargeson Trust’s first boast for 2012.

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