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Leading New Zealand Writers Honoured

Ranganui Walker, C K Stead, Brain Turner
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Creative New Zealand Media release

Strictly embargoed until 7pm Wednesday 28 October

Date: 28 October 2009

Leading New Zealand Writers Honoured

Three of New Zealand‘s most celebrated writers –C K Stead, Brian Turner and Dr Ranginui Walker were honoured at tonight’s 2009 Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement at Premier House in Wellington.

Each writer receives $60,000 in recognition of their significant contribution to New Zealand literature. The awards are administered by Creative New Zealand.

These three writers were recognised in the categories of Poetry [Brian Turner], Fiction [CK Stead] and Non-Fiction [Dr Ranginui Walker].

Prime Minister, John Key said, “It is a pleasure to honour these three great writers. As New Zealanders we should celebrate success more. I am proud to acknowledge the legacy and continued involvement of these well-deserving recipients.”

Novelist, literary critic, poet, essayist and emeritus professor of English from the University of Auckland, CK Stead is one of New Zealand’s most honoured and prolific writers who came to prominence in the 1950s as a protégé of Frank Sargeson and Allen Curnow. He went on to gain an international reputation as a critic with The New Poetic: Yeats to Eliot (1964), and his novels have since been translated into 12 different languages.

Poet, essayist, biographer, editor and environmentalist, Brian Turner is one of New Zealand's most significant writers on landscape, environmentalism and sport. Turner brings a fresh perspective to nature poetry and is both personal but unsentimental in his approach.

Dr Ranginui Walker is a prominent Māori academic, commentator, writer and administrator. He is the author of the best-selling Ka Whawhai Tonu Matou: Struggle Without End, a history of Māori, as well as a number of other books. He is currently a member of the Waitangi Tribunal.

Creative New Zealand Chair Alastair Carruthers thanked the writers for the outstanding contribution they had all made to New Zealand literature.

“These three writers came of age in times of radical political, artistic and social change and in doing so heralded a new order among New Zealand’s literary community. Their body of works are a lasting legacy, works we read yesterday, today and will continue to read in the future. In influencing the writers of the future we look forward to more from these humble guardians of New Zealand’s literary voice.”

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement were established in 2003.

Every year, New Zealanders are invited to nominate their choice of an outstanding writer who has made a significant contribution to New Zealand literature in the genres of non-fiction, poetry and fiction. The nominations are assessed by an expert literary panel and recommendations forwarded to the Council of Creative New Zealand for approval.

This year’s selection panel was: Jock Phillips, historian and creator and General Editor of Te Ara, journalist, poet and reviewer Iain Sharp and novelist and short story writer, Catherine Chidgey.

The complete list of recipients to date is:

Fiction: Janet Frame (2003), Maurice Gee (2004), Margaret Mahy (2005), Patricia Grace (2006), Fiona Farrell (2007), Lloyd Jones (2008), CK Stead (2009).
Poetry: Hone Tuwhare (2003), Kevin Ireland (2004), Alistair Te Ariki Campbell (2005), Vincent O’Sullivan (2006), Bill Manhire (2007), Elizabeth Smithers (2008), Brian Turner (2009).
Non-fiction: Michael King (2003), Anne Salmond (2004), Philip Temple (2005), Judith Binney (2006), Dick Scott (2007), WH (Bill) Oliver (2008), Dr Ranginui Walker (2009).

ENDS


CK Stead
Auckland-born writer, CK Stead has published 14 collections of poems and two of short stories, 11 novels, six books of literary criticism, and edited a number of academic and literary texts. His novels are published in New Zealand and the UK, and have been translated into a dozen foreign languages. He was Professor of English at the University of Auckland from 1967 to 1986 graduating to Professor Emeritus in recent years.
His most recent critical books are Kin of Place Essays on 20 New Zealand Writers (2002), and Book Self (2008). He is also known internationally as an expert on Katherine Mansfield, edited a selection of her letters and journals, and published a novel about her, Mansfield (2003). His first novel Smith's Dream (1971) became Roger Donaldson's first movie, Sleeping Dogs, and Sam Neil's first movie role.
He has won a number of literary prizes, including the Katherine Mansfield prize for the short story, the Jessie McKay Prize for poetry, the New Zealand Book Award for poetry, the New Zealand Book Award for fiction, the Katherine Mansfield Menton fellowship, and the King's Lynn Poetry Prize, and the Montana Book Award. He has held Nuffield and Fullbright travelling fellowships, and the Creative New Zealand Michael King fellowship.
In recent years he has appeared in literary festivals in Australia, Canada, the UK and Europe, and in North and South America. He was awarded a CBE in 1985 for services to New Zealand literature, elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1995 (an honour shared with only one other New Zealander, Fleur Adcock), Senior Visiting Fellow at St John’s College Oxford in 1997, and Fellow of the English Association (UK) in 2003. In 2001 the University of Bristol, where he took his PhD forty years before, awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Letters. His latest novel, My Name was Judas, was published in 2006.

Brian Turner
Brian Turner is a distinguished New Zealand writer and a member of one of his country's most famous sporting families. Turner is a former New Zealand hockey player and has published best-selling sports biographies (with Colin Meads, Josh Kronfeld, Anton Oliver and Glenn Turner). His many other books include the autobiographical Somebodies and Nobodies: Growing up in an extraordinary sporting Family; Timeless Land (with Grahame Sydney and Owen Marshall); and numerous collections of poetry, including Footfall, shortlisted for the 2006 Montana Book Awards. He was the Te Mata Estate New Zealand Poet Laureate 2003-05 and awarded the 2009 Prime Ministers Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry.
Turner won the 1978 Commonwealth Poetry Prize for his first volume Ladders of Rain and the 1993 New Zealand Book Award for Poetry for his collection Beyond. In 1994-5 he held an Arts Council Scholarship in Letters. He was Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago in 1984 and Writer in Residence at the University of Canterbury in 1997.
He has been publishing poems since the 1960s. Up until 1986 his writing was fitted around work as a customs officer, publisher’s rep, journalist, managing editor of a publishing firm, work in sawmills, construction sites and as a rabbiter in Central Otago.

Dr Ranginui Walker
Dr Ranginui Walker belongs to the Whakatōhea iwi at Ōpōtiki. He was educated at St Peter’s Māori College, Auckland Teachers’ College and the University of Auckland. After 10 years teaching in primary schools and five at Auckland Teachers’ College, he took up a temporary lectureship at the University of Auckland in 1967. He completed his doctorate in 1970 and served for fifteen years in Continuing Education before being appointed Associate Professor of Māori Studies at Auckland in 1985, and Professor and Head of Department in 1993. In 1996, Professor Walker was appointed Pro Vice Chancellor (Māori) at Auckland until his retirement in 1997.

Dr Walker was a ‘Kōrero’ columnist for the New Zealand Listener for 18 years. He has published six books, and numerous papers and chapters in books on Māori activism, education and the politics of culture. He was also a foundation member of the World Council of Indigenous people from 1974 to 1990. In 2001, Dr Walker was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

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