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Announcing the 2022 Ockham NZ Book Awards Judges

Announcing the 2022 Ockham NZ Book Awards Judges

Internationally acclaimed authors, long-time reviewers, award-winning photographers and a respected former publisher are among the 12 experts selected to judge the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

The $60,000 Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction will be judged by Otago Daily Times journalist and books editor Rob Kidd; Booksellers Aotearoa’s programme coordinator and avid reader Gemma Browne; and award-winning writer and freelance oral historian/researcher Kelly Ana Morey (Ngāti Kurī, Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri). They will be joined by an international writer in deciding the ultimate winner from their shortlist of four.

Judging the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry will be author, poet, reviewer and teacher Saradha Koirala; internationally published and award-winning poet, playwright, short story writer and novelist Apirana Taylor (Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Ruanui and Te Āti Awa; and writer, editor and bookseller Jane Arthur.

The General Non-Fiction Award will be judged by poet and non-fiction author, book reviewer and blogger Nicholas Reid, award-winning journalist and photographer Aaron Smale (Ngāti Porou); and poet, historian, former diplomat and Fulbright alumna Leilani Tamu.

The Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction will be judged by museum curator Chanel Clarke (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Porou, Waikato Tainui); photographer, author and urbanist Patrick Reynolds; and former publisher and co-founder of Godwit Press Jane Connor.

New Zealand Book Awards Trust trustee Paula Morris notes that this year’s panels were drawn, in part, from the first-ever open call for judges.

“Our books deserve consideration by informed and avid readers,” she says. “This stellar group of judges include a diversity of experience, expertise, location and point of view.”

The New Zealand Book Awards Trust is now inviting entries for the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards for titles with release dates between 1 January 2021 and 31 December 2021.

Submissions for titles published between 1 January 2021 and 31 August 2021 are now open and will close 5pm on Tuesday 14 September 2021. Online entries for titles published between 1 September 2021 and 31 December 2021 open on Wednesday 15 September and close 5pm on Wednesday 27 October 2021.

Click here for eligibility criteria and a Call for Entries information pack, then enter online here.

The judges will advise their longlist of up to 10 books per category on 27 January 2022 and the 2022 shortlist of 16 books will be announced on 2 March. The winners will be celebrated at an awards event at the Auckland Writers Festival on 11 May 2022.

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New Zealand, Jann Medlicott and the Acorn Foundation, Mary and Peter Biggs CNZM, MitoQ, Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand and the Auckland Writers Festival.



The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are the country’s premier literary honours for books written by New Zealanders. First established in 1968 as the Wattie Book Awards (later the Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Awards), they have also been known as the Montana New Zealand Book Awards and the New Zealand Post Book Awards. Awards are given for Fiction (the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction), Poetry (the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry) Illustrated Non-Fiction (the Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction) and General Non-Fiction. There are also four awards for first-time authors (The MitoQ Best First Book awards) and, at the judges’ discretion, Te Mūrau o te Tuhi, a Māori Language Award. The awards are governed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust (a registered charity). Current members of the Trust are Nicola Legat, Karen Ferns, Paula Morris, Jenna Todd, Anne Morgan, Melanee Winder, Melinda Szymanik and Richard Pamatatau. The Trust also governs the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day.


Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction

Rob Kidd (convenor)

Rob Kidd has been a journalist for the last 13 years. He has been the books editor at the Otago Daily Times for the past four years and is a trustee of Dunedin’s Ignition Children’s Book Festival. Rob also initiated New Chapters, a short-story competition for prisoners at the Otago Corrections Facility.

Gemma Browne

Gemma Browne is the Programmes Coordinator for Booksellers Aotearoa. They are an avid reader, and have published writing and reviews as Gem Wilder in various publications. They have also appeared at Verb Wellington and the NZ Festival of the Arts.

Kelly Ana Morey (Ngāti Kurī, Te Rarawa, Te Aupōuri)

Kelly Ana Morey is an award-winning writer of five fiction and four non-fiction titles. Her most recent publication Daylight Second (2016) was a finalist in the Heritage Writing and Māori Writing Awards in 2017. She is a freelance oral historian/researcher and is currently writing a duo of Māori novels.

General Non-Fiction Award

Nicholas Reid (convenor)

Nicholas Reid’s Doctorate is in History. He also has Masters degrees in Literature and Philosophy. Author of the book blog “Reid’s Reader”, he is a prolific book reviewer. His reviews are seen regularly in the New Zealand “Listener” and elsewhere. Two collections of his poetry have been published as well as six books of non-fiction.

Aaron Smale (Ngāti Porou)

Aaron Smale is an award-winning journalist and photographer. In 2021 he won the Best Individual Investigation at the Voyager Media Awards and in 2020 he won the Feature Writer of the Year. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University and is currently studying towards a PhD in History.

Leilani Tamu

Leilani Tamu is a poet, historian, former diplomat, and Fulbright alumna. An avid reader, she has delivered book reviews for RNZ’s Nine to Noon and online for the website Kete. Leilani is one of the University of Auckland’s Top 40 under 40 alumni, and is currently working as the Manager for Pacific Policy at the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction

Chanel Clarke (Ngāpuhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Porou, Waikato Tainui) (convenor)

Chanel Clarke is currently the Curator for Te Rau Aroha Museum on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Before this role, Chanel had a twenty-year career as the first Curator Māori.

Patrick Reynolds

Patrick Reynolds has co-authored over a dozen illustrated books, has contributed to magazines and other publications both with images and words for decades, taught photography and urban design at the University of Auckland, judged architecture awards and held public art, urban form, and transport directorships.

Jane Connor

Jane Connor is a retired publisher who was co-founder of Godwit Press, Publishing Director of Random House New Zealand, and Publisher of Timber Press in Portland, Oregon. Throughout her career she has also worked as an editor and designer, with a special interest in the way text and images are used together in illustrated non-fiction books.

Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry

Saradha Koirala (convenor)

Saradha Koirala is an award-winning author, poet, reviewer and teacher. Her work includes three poetry collections and two young adult novels, the most recent of which is Learning to love Blue (Record Press 2021).

Apirana Taylor (Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Ruanui and Te Āti Awa). Apirana Taylor is a nationally and internationally published poet, playwright, short story writer and novelist. He’s been Writer in Residence at Canterbury and Massey Universities. He tours globally presenting his poetry. He’s written and published poetry, plays, short stories, and novels and is included in many anthologies.

Jane Arthur

Jane Arthur is a writer, editor and bookseller. She is co-owner and manager of Good Books, an independent bookshop in Wellington which opened in 2020. Her debut poetry collection, Craven (VUP), won the Jessie Mackay Prize (MitoQ Best First Book Award) at the 2020 Ockham NZ Book Awards.

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