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History The Big Winner At Montana NZ Book Awards

Monday 26 July 2004

History Is The Big Winner In This Year's Montana New Zealand Book Awards

History in all its guises was the clear winner at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004. The historical novel, Slow Water by Annamarie Jagose won the Deutz Medal for Fiction and The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas by Anne Salmond won the Montana Medal for Non Fiction. New Zealanders voted Michael King's The Penguin History of New Zealand winner of the Readers' Choice Award.

These Awards, New Zealand's most prestigious for contemporary writing, were presented at a gala dinner tonight at the Hilton Hotel in Auckland by Prime Minister Helen Clark. The winners of the seven non-fiction categories were also announced.

Tony Simpson, convenor of the judging panel, commented that the judges had a very good range of high quality titles and publications from which to make their final selection. He said this "illustrates yet again that we are dealing with a mature writing community and publishing industry which can consistently deliver books for consideration at a standard which measures up to and can surpass the best of international comparisons."

The winners of the three top awards and the eight categories in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004 were:

Deutz Medal for Fiction - Slow Water by Annamarie Jagose (Victoria University Press). The judges said that "rarely in New Zealand literature have historical research and imaginative writing combined to produce such an unusual, and unusually satisfying work of fiction. Jagose ranks amongst New Zealand's best novelists."

Runners Up - Fiction Category
Iridescence by Peter Wells (Vintage)
The Scornful Moon by Maurice Gee (Penguin Books)

The Deutz Medal for Fiction is worth $15,000 while the Runners Up were each presented with $2,500.

Montana Medal for Non Fiction - The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas by Anne Salmond (Allen Lane / Penguin Books). The judges agreed that this was an impressive scholarly work. "It shows that complex subjects can be made fully accessible to general and popular readers in ways which are far from patronising. Salmond is a consummate storyteller and this book, as well as being in the very first rank of historical scholarship, is quite riveting."

Non-Fiction Category Winners:
Poetry - Sing-song by Anne Kennedy (Auckland University Press)
Biography - Mason: The Life of R A K Mason by Rachel Barrowman (Victoria University Press)
History -The Trial of the Cannibal Dog: Captain Cook in the South Seas by Anne Salmond (Allen Lane / Penguin Books)
Reference & Anthology - Whetu Moana: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English edited by Albert Wendt, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan (Auckland University Press)
Lifestyle & Contemporary Culture -Classic Fly Fishing in New Zealand Rivers written by John Kent, photography by David Hallett (Craig Potton Publishing)
Environment - Deep New Zealand: Blue Water, Black Abyss by Peter Batson (Canterbury University Press)
Illustrative - Central by Arno Gasteiger (Viking)

Each non-fiction category winner was awarded $5,000 while the winner of the Montana Medal for Non Fiction was presented with an additional $10,000.

Michael King's The Penguin History of New Zealand (Penguin Books) was the clear winner of the Readers' Choice Award with close to 60% of the total votes received. Rachael and Jonathan King, Michael King's children, accepted the Award on his behalf. The prize money for this Award was $1,000.

First time authors are also recognised in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. This year the winner of the New Zealand Society of Authors Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction is Bloom by Kelly Ana Morey (Penguin Books). The judging panel said this novel was written with great aplomb and was "a wonderfully accomplished first novel that reads like the work of a veteran writer rather than a first book author."

The New Zealand Society of Authors Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry went to Cliff Fell for his collection, The Adulterer's Bible (Victoria University Press). Fell was described by the judges as a writer with a big career ahead of him. They said this was an outstanding first book that demanded to be considered as one of the best poetry books of the year.

The New Zealand Society of Authors E H McCormick Best First Book Award for Non Fiction was presented to Deidre Brown for her book, Tai Tokerau Whakairo Rakau: Northland Maori Wood Carving (Reed Publishing Ltd). The judges thought this book to be an exemplar of its kind, authoritative and illuminating.

Each of these authors was awarded $1,000 in prize money.

The A W Reed Award for Contribution to New Zealand Literature was presented to Joy Cowley. This Award is presented biennially in recognition of an outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature and an involvement in activities which foster and promote literature to wider audiences. Cowley has given generously of her time and passion for children's books during a writing career spanning more than three decades. Many New Zealand children have learnt to read through reading her work which has been used in primary schools for the last 25 years. She is the driving force behind a wide range of writing courses throughout the country.

The Best Review Page or Programme and Reviewer of the Year Awards were also presented at tonight's ceremony. The judges for this integral part of the Montana New Zealand Book Awards were journalist and writer, Liz Grant and bookseller, Jillian Ewart.

The Review Page or Programme of the Year Award was presented to The Listener, whose pages, said the judges, were consistently good with a wide variety of reviewers all showing a very high standard and an excellent mix of books reviewed.

Michael King won the Reviewer of the Year Award. The judges considered Dr King's reviews to be "always a model of the reviewer's art. They read beautifully, bring fresh insights, and King always places the books in a wider, revealing context."

Judging: The judging panel for the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004 included Tony Simpson (convenor), Anne French and Paul Miller. They were assisted by eight specialist category advisors and one Te Reo Maori advisor. New Zealand books published during the 2003 calendar year were eligible for entry. The judges gave primary consideration to enduring literary merit and overall quality of authorship; quality of illustration and graphic presentation; production factors including jacket design, general design, typography, indexing and the standard of editing; impact of the book on the community taking account of factors such as topicality, public interest, commercial viability, entertainment, cultural and educational values, lifespan and value for money.

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, the New Zealand Society of Authors and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd.


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