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Neil Silverwood Wins NZ Geographic Photographer of the Year

New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year

New Zealand’s most prestigious photography prize, New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year, was tonight claimed by intrepid adventure photographer Neil Silverwood.

The competition celebrates New Zealand’s best editorial photography across six categories: Microsoft Surface Wildlife, Resene Landscape, Progear Photo Story, Panasonic Lumix Timelapse, DJI Aerial and Epson Society & Culture category.

Neil Silverwood’s winning portfolio for the Nikon Photographer of the Year Award takes viewers on a journey into New Zealand’s deepest, darkest and most dangerous underground environments. After a new entrance was discovered to the Ironstone cave system, Silverwood made the through-trip several times to document it. "Photographing the system was a difficult undertaking as getting wet is unavoidable," he says. In the process, an underwater housing flooded and four flash guns failed due to water damage. "Ironstone was the most expensive assignment I have ever completed."

More recently Silverwood has crawled out of his burrow to spend more time in the realm of light, but it's always associated with mountains, snow and the extremes. He has just arrived home from six weeks in Antarctica, where he participated in a Deep Field Traverse, one of the longest and most difficult New Zealand-led scientific journeys on the ice since Hillary set out for the South Pole on his Massey Ferguson.

“Neil doesn't just survive these conditions, but has an artful response to them, “ says New Zealand Geographic publisher and convener of judges James Frankham. “He brings light to dark and remote places—sometimes dozens of lights—and allows us to visit those places and understand more of what makes this country remarkable.”

Tamron Young Photographer of the Year Award was taken away by Ben Sanford—an Australian alpine photographer who regularly visits New Zealand to tackle our peaks. The Resene Colour Award was won by Joanne Ottey who took a photograph of a spider that appears more like a scene in a discotheque than a wildlife photograph.

Other winners include Darryl Torckler’s extraordinary image of flying fish hunting krill for Microsoft Surface Wildlife Category, Takashi Tsuneizumi won the Resene Landscape Category with an unusual and dramatic image of Stirling Falls, Mike Scott won the Epson Society & Culture Category with an image of kapa haka performers on a bus, the DJI Aerial Category was won by Rob Suisted from a luminous frame of lakes high on the flanks of Ruapehu, Andrew Wright’s compassionate photo essay of the last days of life won the Progear PhotoStory Category and a mind-bending video of Aucklanders going about their daily commute won Stephen Patience the Panasonic Lumix Timelapse Category.

“When this competition started in 2009, drones and timelapse exposure were not possible using consumer technology, nor were the ISO ratings that allow photographers to shoot in near darkness, but there has also been a more subtle shift in our expression of New Zealand,” says Frankham. “In the landscape and aerial categories we are seeing work that is less derivative of international work and more focused on those things that make New Zealand unusual; like snow, ice and seascapes. And the society and photo-story categories reflect a more urban and diverse population that challenges some of the old stereotypes of who we are.”

Auckland Museum Director Dr. David Gaimster said summer visitors to Auckland Museum are in for a treat. “A trip to this exhibition is a must-see summer holiday activity. The Museum will display these unique snapshots of New Zealand life on backlit panels for the first time, allowing every detail to really shine,” he says. “We’re excited to be able to present these stunning images to an extremely high international exhibition standard, for free to Aucklanders,” he says. “I can’t wait to share this experience with visitors.”

All 65 finalists will be on display at Auckland Museum between December 15 and February 25. The public can cast their votes for the Panasonic People’s Choice award at the exhibition, and online. Go to to preview all the finalist images.


• Exhibition opens Friday 15 December 2017 – Sunday 25 February 2018, Special Exhibitions Hall, Auckland Museum, free with museum entry.

• See to view finalists and vote.

• Categories are Resene Landscape, Microsoft Surface Wildlife, Epson Society & Culture, Progear Photo Story, Panasonic Lumix Timelapse, and DJI Aerial. Four special prizes were also awarded—the Resene Colour Award, the Panasonic People’s Choice Award, Tamron Young Photographer and the grand prix Nikon Photographer of the Year Award.

• All work was photographed or videoed within New Zealand or its overseas dependencies.

• New Zealand Geographic Photographer of the Year has taken place since 2009—this is the ninth year of the competition.


Nikon Photographer of the Year Neil Silverwood

Tamron Young Photographer of the year Ben Sanford

Resene Colour Award Joanne Ottey

Microsoft Surface Wildlife Darryl Torckler

Resene Landscape Takashi Tsuneizumi

Epson Society & Culture Mike Scott

Progear Photo Story Andrew Stewart

Panasonic Lumix Timelapse Stephen Patience

DJI Aerial Rob Suisted


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