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NZ Actor Voted Top Talking Book Narrator

From: The Royal New Zealand Foundation for the Blind

George Henare is celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Foundation for the Blind's Narrator Award – having been voted the best talking book narrator during 2000.

The award, sponsored for the second year in a row by Merck Sharp & Dohme, was presented at a ceremony held at Awhina House, Parnell (Auckland) on the 9th February 2001.

George has been a narrator for the Foundation’s talking book service since 1973, beginning his career with Pounamu pounamu by Witi Ihimaera. Since then he has narrated 38 talking books.

“Narrating talking books is excellent work for actors. You get to practice script interpretation, character development and how to handle dialogue.

“I love telling stories so I find narrating really enjoyable, but it is nice to get acknowledged for the effort that’s put into it," says George. “I particularly enjoy doing stories that have a lot of characters – something that is interesting and fun.”

This is the second time George has won the award. Talking book readers voted him as their favourite narrator in 1992, the third year the award was presented.

The Narrator Award was introduced in 1990 to recognise the invaluable work narrators do for blind and sight-impaired readers. By dedicating an average of three hours a week to recording, narrators provide blind and sight-impaired people with something most of us take for granted – access to news, information, the mass media and recreational reading – all for a minimal fee.

Those who listen regularly to the narrators – users of the Foundation’s talking book library – decide the winner of the award.

A list of New Zealand narrators who have produced work in the last twelve months is placed on the Telephone Information Service (TIS). Members ring in, listen to an extract of each nominated narrator, and vote for whom they think is the best – George Henare was clearly the winner for 2000.

Foundation member Moya Badham has used the library service since 1963 and was one of the members who voted for George’s narration of Albert Wendt’s Short Stories.

“George is an excellent narrator. I particularly admire his ability to personify the characters so well. He takes the trouble to speak in the correct vernacular – it’s like listening to real people talking, not someone reading you a story.

“I am absolutely thrilled that George has won the award – he is so deserving of it,” says Mrs Badham.

Award sponsors, Merck Sharp & Dohme (leaders in eyecare) have supported Library services since 1983 - financially assisting the production of 10 talking books to date.

"We are delighted that the award will be presented to George this year, it's an area of work that is not readily recognised by the general public. The contribution that narrators and the talking book service makes to the community cannot be underestimated and we are proud to be supporting it once again," says My-Linh Kha, Marketing Services Manager, Merck Sharp & Dohme.

The other nominees were – Paul Barrett, Elisabeth Easther, Frances Edmond, Tim Faville, Verity George, Elizabeth Hawthorne, Peter Kaa, Wendy Karstens, Maggie Maxwell, Elizabeth McRae, Ken Porter, Tony Ricketts, Rosemary Ronald, Helena Ross and Fiona Samuel.


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