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Te Papa Press titles commended at top arts awards

Three Te Papa Press titles took out some of the top category awards in the Art Association of Australia and New Zealand (AAANZ) Book Prizes, announced at the AAANZ annual conference in Auckland at the end of last year.

Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing, edited by Sean Mallon and Sébastien Galliot, won the Best Anthology Prize for a volume the judges described as “fascinating, deeply researched, and beautifully produced”.

In making their assessments of the anthology entrants, the judges said they took into account criteria such as scholarly rigour, contribution to knowledge, impact, significance, production quality and clarity of exposition.

They said about Tatau: “We learn in great depth from the authors and editors about the extensive history and cultural significance of tattooing from the eighteenth century to the present, taking in everything from the earliest known observations by European colonists to the contemporary appearance of the form in global art and popular culture. The book is a fitting tribute to the power and endurance of this vibrant Sāmoan cultural practice.”

Tatau also won its editors and essayists the top award for Best Art Writing by a New Zealand Māori or Pasifika. Describing the book as a “tour de force publication”, the judges commended Mallon and his co-editor for presenting “highly original scholarship that follows an indigenous framework” and said the multi-authored publication offered “a range of perspectives that are delivered in formats that are intellectually stimulating, yet accessible”.

Two other Te Papa Press titles were Highly Commended by the judges in the same category. In Te Hei Tiki: An Enduring Treasure in a Cultural Continuum author Dougal Austin provided “comprehensive, detailed and in-depth research of the collection of hei tiki at Te Papa Tongarewa,” they said. “Te Hei Tiki far exceeds previous publications by anthropologists such as The Maori Hei Tiki by H.D. Skinner (1966) over fifty years ago and offers valuable mātauranga māori insights by Austin.”

Awhina Tamarapa was also commended for her writing and research in Whatu Kākahu: Māori Cloaks. “There are many books on weaving but Whatu Kākahu is hard to beat in terms of specialist research of kākahu, descriptions of materials and details of construction that has significance for weavers and non-weavers alike. The publication exceeds in its scope and Awhina Tamarapa draws on a wide range of expertise to research a collection of kākahu that she knows well as a weaver and former Curator Mātauranga Māori,” said the judges for the section.

Te Papa Press publisher Nicola Legat said she was deeply proud of the achievements of these books and their authors. “These are landmark books, by wonderful writers. They’ve been very warmly received because each of them is culturally rich, and they will all go on to play key roles and inform further research endeavours.”

The annual AAANZ prizes recognise the best in arts writing and research across Australia and New Zealand. The awards cover a broad array of arts publishing and acknowledge the contribution of both emerging and established scholars and artists. The full list of 2019 winners can be seen here.

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