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Tragic loss for New Zealand literature

March 31st 2004

Tragic loss for New Zealand literature

The death of biographer and historian Michael King in a car accident near Maramarua yesterday is a tragic loss for New Zealand literature, says William Taylor, president of the NZ Society of Authors.

His enormous contribution to New Zealanders' understanding of themselves and their history was recognised when in 2003 he was awarded the inaugural Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement for non-fiction. The other winners were Janet Frame for fiction and Hone Tuwhare for poetry. The awards are aimed at New Zealand writers who have made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature.

William Taylor says, 'Michael King's contribution to New Zealand society and culture has been incomparable. In his recording of the history of our country and its people he leaves us all a legacy of lasting worth. The country mourns the loss of Michael and his wife, Maria Jungowska. The writing community of our nation stands in his debt. We extend to their families our deepest and heartfelt sympathy.'

Michael King was an active member of the New Zealand Society of Authors for 29 years, and president from 1979 to 1980. He worked tirelessly on behalf of other writers, particularly in relation to the Authors' Fund. For the past four years he was a mentor in the NZSA Mentoring Programme, assisting beginning writers to improve their craft.


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