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Michael King leaves priceless legacy

Media release

Michael King leaves priceless legacy

Creative New Zealand mourns the loss of Michael King, who died with his wife, Maria Jungowska, in a car accident yesterday. He has left New Zealand a priceless legacy of his writings about the country that he loved, says Peter Biggs, Chair of Creative New Zealand.

"This is a devastating, cruel loss and our deepest sympathy goes to Maria's and Michael's families," Mr Biggs says. "Michael was one of our foremost chroniclers of New Zealand's history and its people. He was also an incredibly generous man whose insights into New Zealand's past and present society have illuminated our lives."

In October last year, Michael King was one of three outstanding New Zealand writers to receive the inaugural Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement. Fiction writer the late Janet Frame and poet Hone Tuwhare were also recognised.

Displaying his customary generosity, Michael King said of winning the award for non-fiction: "Ever since I discovered New Zealand literature in my late teens, I have admired immensely the work of Janet Frame and Hone Tuwhare. To receive this award in their company was the greatest compliment I could have."

At the same time as he received the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in non-fiction, his Penguin History of New Zealand was published. This became a bestseller and has sold more than 50,000 copies since its publication.

"Michael King - through his writings, his scholarship and his generous spirit - has made us understand more clearly what it is to be a New Zealander," Mr Biggs said. "And ultimately, his life has made us better New Zealanders. We all mourn his passing."


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