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Writers recognised in PM's Awards for Literary

Writers recognised in Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement

Three "giant kauri" in New Zealand literature - Janet Frame, Michael King and Hone Tuwhare - have been recognised in the inaugural Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement, held in association with Creative New Zealand and announced tonight in the Grand Hall of Parliament Buildings.

Aimed at New Zealand writers who have made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature, the Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement were presented to Janet Frame of Dunedin for fiction; Michael King of Opoutere on the Coromandel Peninsula for non-fiction; and Hone Tuwhare of Kaka Point in South Otago, for poetry. Each writer received $60,000.

Announcing the Awards, Prime Minister and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Clark said that Janet Frame, Michael King and Hone Tuwhare stand out as huge contributors to New Zealand writing.

"Janet Frame ranks as one of New Zealand's finest ever novelists, with an international reputation. Hone Tuwhare's poetry and plays are remarkable for their wit and wisdom as he tells the stories of his people. Michael King has established a formidable reputation as a chronicler of the history of New Zealand and its peoples," Miss Clark said.

The annual Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement are the result of an additional $1 million (inc. GST) per year to the literary sector, announced by the Government in May 2002. Representatives from the literary sector, Creative New Zealand and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage consulted on the best use of the additional funding. These Awards, along with the Creative New Zealand Writers' Fellowship awarded to Timaru writer Owen Marshall earlier this year, are two of the initiatives that were established.

Hone Tuwhare (Ngä Puhi, Ngati Korokoro, Tautahi, Uri O Hau, Te Popoto) was born in 1922 at Kokewai, near Kaikohe. His first volume of poems, No Ordinary Sun (1964), was the first published collection of poems in English by a Mäori writer and is in its 10th printing. Other collections and plays followed, including Mihi (1987), Deep River Talk (1993), Shape-Shifter (1997) and Piggy-Back Moon (2002). He has won many awards, fellowships and accolades for his work, and in 1999 was named the Te Mata Poet Laureate. He received an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award earlier this year.

Michael King's first book, Moko, Mäori Tattooing in the Twentieth Century, was published in 1972. Since then, he has written or edited 32 books, including biographies of Frank Sargeson and Janet Frame. The Frame biography, Wrestling with the Angel, was a bestseller and won the Montana Medal for Non-fiction and the Readers Choice Award in the 2001 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. His thirty-fourth book, The Penguin History of New Zealand, written to complement the late Sir Keith Sinclair's History, will be published later this month on 13 October. The publishers, Penguin Books, expect this book to become the established history of New Zealand. In 1988, Michael King was awarded an OBE for services to New Zealand literature.

Janet Frame's life has been well-chronicled in her award-winning, three-volume autobiography; the subsequent film of the books, An Angel at my Table; and in the Michael King biography. Born in Dunedin in 1924, Frame won the Hubert Church Memorial Award in 1952 for her first publication, The Lagoon and Other Stories. This was the first of many awards and accolades, including an honorary Doctor of Literature from Otago University in 1978, the inaugural Turnovsky Prize in 1984 and the 1990 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for her most recent novel, The Carpathians. Janet Frame has written 11 novels, five short story collections, a poetry collection and her autobiography. She is a member of the Order of New Zealand and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Earlier this year, she received an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award.

For the Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement, New Zealanders were invited to nominate their choice of an outstanding New Zealand writer in the genres of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, who has made a significant contribution to New Zealand literature. The nominations were assessed by an expert literary panel and recommendations were forwarded to the Council of Creative New Zealand for approval.

Chair of Creative New Zealand Peter Biggs said that Janet Frame, Michael King and Hone Tuwhare stand out as "giant kauri within New Zealand's literary canon".

"Like the kauri, their writing is of this country - a towering presence across our historical and literary landscape," Mr Biggs said. "As someone who has devoured literature - especially New Zealand literature - all my life, I rejoice in these Awards and the Government's ongoing support both for literature and the arts of this country.

"They are a recognition of the tremendous role that New Zealand writers and writing have played - and continue to play - in shaping our sense of who we are as a nation."

Ends

Biographies of 3 artists follow.

For more information please contact:

Undine Marshfield

Senior Media and Communications Adviser

Creative New Zealand

Tel: 04-498 0725 Mobile: 025-965 925

Email: undinem@creativenz.govt.nz

Janet Frame: a biographical note

Janet Frame's life has been well-chronicled in her award-winning, three-volume autobiography; the subsequent Jane Campion film of the books, An Angel at My Table; and in Michael King's biography Wrestling With the Angel (2000). Born in Dunedin in 1924, she has returned to that city to live after years in Auckland, Wanganui, the Horowhenua, Rangitikei, and several periods overseas.

Despite financial hardship, the Frame family was rich in the love of language and literature and Janet Frame has said that "Words were revered as instruments of magic." Her first collection of short stories, The Lagoon and Other Stories, won the Hubert Church Memorial Award in 1952.

In 1955, Janet Frame accepted an invitation from Frank Sargeson to live in an old army hut in the garden of his Takapuna home and she embarked on her writing career in earnest. Her first novel, Owls Do Cry (1957), received national and international acclaim and in 1958 won her the inaugural New Zealand Literature Fund for Achievement. From there, her career developed rapidly. Living in London as well as the United States for extended periods, she published five novels and a collection of short stories during the 1960s, closely followed by another two novels in the early 1970s - Intensive Care and Daughter Buffalo.

Living in the Maniototo, published in 1979, was followed by Frame's acclaimed autobiography. Each of the volumes won prizes: To The Is-land (1982) and The Envoy From Mirror City (1985) won the Wattie Book of the Year Award while the second volume, An Angel at My Table (1984), was placed third.

Janet Frame has received numerous other awards and accolades, including an honorary Doctor of Literature from Otago University in 1978, the inaugural Turnovsky Prize for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts in 1984, the Frank Sargeson Fellowship in 1987 and the 1990 Commonwealth Writers' Prize for her most recent novel, The Carpathians (1988). Altogether, she has written 11 novels, five short story collections, a poetry collection and her autobiography. She is a member of the Order of New Zealand and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Earlier this year, she received an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award.

In Wrestling With the Angel , Michael King writes that when Janet Frame was awarded the CBE, she said: "I'm pleased to be honoured for myself and for other writers, for it is a way of accepting writers into the esteemed company of athletes and accountants and thus recognising them as part of our daily life." She did, however, admit "a modicum of regret" that she had not achieved "Dame Frame".

Bill Manhire, reviewing An Angel at My Table in the New Zealand Times in 1984, wrote: "It is impossible to read this book without admiring, as well as her honesty, the extraordinary artistry with which Janet Frame has put her life on paper. She has a marvellous sense of the pace and patterns of experience ... "

Sources include the New Zealand Book Council website (www.bookcouncil.org.nz) and the Arts Foundation of New Zealand website (www.artsfoundation.org.nz).

Michael King: a biographical note

Michael King was born in Wellington in 1945. He grew up on the Pauatahanui arm of Porirua Harbour and was educated at Catholic schools. Both these early circumstances ­- living close to the natural world and the rich liturgy of the Catholic Church ­- have had a profound influence on his life. As a child, his neighbourhood provided his first encounter with history in the Mäori sites and battlegrounds of the New Zealand Wars.

King majored in history and English at Victoria University and graduated with a BA in 1967. He then moved to Hamilton to work for the Waikato Times and to study for an MA at the fledgling University of Waikato. The newspaper assigned him to the Mäori round, and he was exposed for the first time to the full force of Mäori language, culture and tradition in the years 1968 to 1971.

He left Hamilton to teach journalism at Wellington Polytechnic in 1972 and became a full-time writer in 1975. His first book, a collaboration with Marti Friedlander on Mäori tattooing, was published in 1972; and his television documentary series Tangata Whenua went to air in 1974 and won a Feltex Award in 1975.

For ten years he concentrated mainly on writing Mäori history in partnership with Mäori, becoming the first professional historian to work in this field. His biographies of Te Puea Herangi and Whina Cooper, and his prize-winning Mäori: a Photographic and Social History, were published during those years. He was awarded his doctorate in history by the University of Waikato in 1978.

In the 1980s, King also began to write about wider New Zealand history, and his ground-breaking Being Pakeha was the first book to examine the Pakeha ingredients of New Zealand society and culture. He won further awards, including a Wattie Book of the Year prize for his book, Moriori, published in 1989. In 1988, he was awarded an OBE for services to New Zealand Literature.

King devoted much of the 1990s to literary biography through his books on the lives of Frank Sargeson (1995) and Janet Frame (2000). The Frame biography, Wrestling With the Angel, was a bestseller that won the Montana Medal for Non-fiction and the Readers Choice Award in the 2001 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. He was also awarded honorary doctorates by Victoria University and Waikato University.

Michael King's new Penguin History of New Zealand, written to compliment History by the late Sir Keith Sinclair, will be published on 13 October 2003.

King's citation for his honorary doctorate in literature from Victoria University says: "He is that rare beast, one who has dared to write scholarly works for the public marketplace rather than for the academy, yet has retained the highest respect of the university community."

By 2003, he had written or edited a total of 33 books.

Hone Tuwhare: a biographical note

Hone Tuwhare (Ngä Puhi, Ngati Korokoro, Tautahi, Uri O Hau, Te Popoto) was born in 1922 at Kokewai, near Kaikohe. He began to write when he was an apprentice at the Otahuhu Railway Workshops, encouraged by fellow poet R. A. K. Mason.

His first collection, No Ordinary Sun (1964), was the first book of poetry by a Mäori writer in English. Now in its tenth impression, it remains one of the most widely read individual collections of poetry in New Zealand literary history.

While in Dunedin as the 1969 Burns Fellow, Tuwhare met painter Ralph Hotere, who provided the illustrations for his next four volumes: Come Rain Hail (1970), Sap-Wood & Milk (1972), Something Nothing (1974) and Making a Fist of It: Poems and Short Stories (1978).

During the 1970s, Tuwhare became involved in Mäori cultural and political initiatives. His international reputation also grew: there were invitations to visit both China and Germany, and in 1985 was awarded a DAAD scholarship to study in Germany. This led to the publication of Was wirklicher ist als Sterben.

While his earlier poems were kept in print, new work was constantly added. Tuwhare's play, In the Wilderness Without a Hat, was published in 1991. Three further collections of poetry followed: Short Back and Sideways: Poems & Prose (1992), Deep River Talk (1993) and Shape-Shifter (1997). In 1999, he was named New Zealand's second Te Mata Poet Laureate, the outcome of which was Piggy-Back Moon (2002), shortlisted for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. He received an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award earlier this year.

In 1998, Janet Hunt's biography of Hone Tuwhare was published by Godwit Press. In the introduction, Hunt writes: "As a traveller, Tuwhare carries two suitcases. In one he packs his Mäori birthright, the kaupapa, waiata and reo of his whänau and his tüpuna, and in the other he hefts an inheritance founded in the English language, the many registers of the schoolroom, streets, pub and workplace, the Christian liturgy, the bible and Western literature. Both suitcases have WORK-CLASS red-stickered on their sides."


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