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Montana NZ Book Awards Judging Panel Announced

Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2002 Judging Panel Announced

The judging panel has been announced for the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
Witi Ihimaera is the convenor of a panel of three judges which includes Bill Ralston and Lindsey Dawson.

For the last three months the judges have immersed themselves in the reading and re-reading of a record 203 books submitted for the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Commenting on the quality of the submissions for 2002, Witi Ihimaera said, “the list reads like an Academy Awards’ nominee list – a virtual who’s who of our most glittering writers”.

The Montana New Zealand Books Awards are this country’s most sought after of literary prizes, carrying a total of $68,000 in prize money. Strict judging criteria are applied to ensure the Montana New Zealand Book Awards achieve their objective – the recognition of the excellence in New Zealand books. The judges consider each book as a whole while giving particular attention to specific elements, including enduring literary merit, overall quality of authorship, illustrations, design and presentation, impact on the community, and the promotion of entertainment, cultural and educational values.

The high calibre of the judging panel is critical to maintaining the pre-eminence of the Awards, past winners of which have included such renowned New Zealand literary luminaries as Michael King, Owen Marshall, Elizabeth Knox and Maurice Gee.

Witi Ihimaera brings over 30 years of writing and publishing experience to the position of convenor of the judging panel. He is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, editor and librettist. His most recent novel, The Uncle’s Story, was published in 2000; his play Woman Far Walking will feature at the Commonwealth Games Festival of the Arts in Manchester in June this year, and his opera Galileo premieres in Auckland in April. The feature film Whale Rider, based on Witi’s novel, will screen in New Zealand later this year.

Journalist, presenter and commentator Bill Ralston’s career of nearly 25 years, spans print, radio and television mediums. He has been a political correspondent for both main TV networks and has also hosted current affairs chat shows on TV One and TV3 as well as the arts show, Backchat. He edited Metro for three years and is in demand as a media and political commentator. Bill has won numerous awards for his news and current affairs work, including the 1998 and 1999 Qantas Awards for Excellence in Journalism as Best Political Columnist, and in 1999, the Qantas Award as Best Overall Columnist.

Lindsey Dawson’s career encompasses both journalism and writing books. Lindsey was one of Zealand’s most successful magazine editors, launching More, Next and Grace. Her first novel, Angel Baby, was well received in New Zealand and in the UK. She also wrote The Next Book of Decorating and Pearls: Words of Wisdom from the Ocean of Life. Lindsey is currently a magazine columnist, a regular commentator on National Radio and has a new novel on the way. She has previously been a category advisor for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and last year was on the judging panel for the Magazine Publishers Association Awards.

2002 heralds substantial changes to the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. For the first time books will be judged in eight categories – Fiction, Poetry, History, Biography, Environment, Lifestyle, Illustrative and Reference & Anthology. In previous years a single category, History & Biography covered all history, anthology, biography and reference books. A specialist advisor has been appointed for each category. The role of the advisor is to work with the three judges to select the finalists for their category.

Fiction – well-known literary figure, novelist and poet Kevin Ireland;
Poetry – respected poet and author James Norcliffe;
History – Raewyn Dalziel, former Head of the Department of History and now Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Auckland;
Biography – Emeritus Professor John Dunmore, CNZM, author of over 25 books about Pacific and New Zealand history, founder of the Dunmore Press and currently director of Heritage Press;
Environment – Philip Temple, author of more than 30 fiction and non fiction books, many with out-door, natural history and adventure themes;
Lifestyle – creative writer and book page editor for Next, Philippa Barrett;
Illustrative – Chris Saines, Director of the Auckland Art Gallery, Toi o Tamaki;
Reference & Anthology – Ray Grover, past Director of National Archives at the Alexander Turnbull Library, author, literary reviewer and judge in previous New Zealand Book Awards, and
Te Reo Maori – Te Awanuiarangi Black, a Te Reo specialist from the Maori Language Commission, Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Maori.

The principal sponsors of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards are Montana Wines and Creative New Zealand. The Awards are managed by Booksellers New Zealand and supported by the Book Publishers Association of New Zealand and the New Zealand Society of Authors.

31 May Longlist announced
28 June Shortlist announced
12 July Montana Poetry Day
20 July Winner of the Deutz Medal for Fiction announced
Winner of the Montana Medal for Non-Fiction announced
New Zealand Society of Authors Best First Book Awards announced
Readers’ Choice Award announced
Reviewer/Review Page announced

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