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2014 Prime Minister's Awards for Literary Achievement: Winners announced

20 Oct 2014

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Creative New Zealand has announced the winners of the 2014 Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement.  They are Jock Phillips, Jack Lasenby and Ian Wedde.

Each will be awarded $60,000 in recognition of their outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature. Jack Lasenby will be honoured for fiction, Ian Wedde for poetry and Jock Phillips for non-fiction.

Arts Council Chairman, Dr Dick Grant, says, “I am delighted to congratulate this year’s winners.  Without exception they have not only contributed fine literary works to our New Zealand canon, but also offered a legacy of exploration and insight into what it means to be a New Zealander.”

The Honourable Maggie Barry, Minister of Arts, Culture and Heritage, will present the awards at a ceremony held at Premier House, Wellington, on Thursday 23rd October.  The 2014 Creative New Zealand Michael King Writer’s Fellowship winner, Elizabeth Knox, will also be honoured at the ceremony.

The Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement were established in 2003. Every year, New Zealanders are invited to nominate their choice of a writer who has made a significant contribution to New Zealand literature in the genres of non-fiction, poetry and fiction. New Zealand writers are also able to nominate themselves for these awards.

Nominations are assessed by an expert literary panel and recommendations forwarded to the Arts Council of Creative New Zealand for approval.  This year’s selection panel was Margaret Cahill, Eva Radich, Iain Sharp and Paul Diamond.

A full list of previous recipients can be found on the Creative New Zealand website.

The Creative New Zealand Michael King Writer’s Fellowship is open to established writers of any literary genre who have already published a significant body of work. Valued at $100,000, it is awarded annually for a project that will take two or more years to complete.

Creative New Zealand and Unity Books invite you to a free literary event

Four of New Zealand’s finest writers: Jack Lasenby, Ian Wedde, Jock Phillips and Elizabeth Knox, will read and discuss their work with writer, broadcast journalist and historian, Paul Diamond. 

This is a free event at Unity Books, 57 Willis Street, wellington on Friday 24th October, 12-12.45 pm. All welcome.

Author Biographies:

Jock Phillips - 2014 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement - for Non-fiction

Jock Phillips was born in Christchurch in 1947.  He was educated at Christ’s College and Victoria University where he was a top graduate, before heading to Harvard where he gained his Masters and then his PhD as a Fulbright fellow.

Returning to New Zealand, Dr Phillips was a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Reader in History at Victoria University of Wellington.

He was the Founder and first Director of the Stout Research Centre for the Study of New Zealand History, Society and Culture.

In the late 80’s he joined the Department of Internal Affairs as Chief Historian and later acting General Manager of the Heritage Group.

He held a role as Conceptual Leader (history) for the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in the lead-up to its transformation, accompanying its move to the new waterfront premises.

And he created the world’s first born-digital national encyclopedia, Te Ara, the Encyclopedia of New Zealand for the Ministry for Culture and Heritage where he was General Editor since its inception in 2002 and Senior Editor from 2011.  Jock Phillips’ entries in Te Ara cover an enormous range of topics and in themselves form a substantial legacy.

A highly regarded editor and author of many books, articles and reviews, Phillips has published on subjects close to our hearts – from stained glass windows to war memorials, our relationship with America and our settlers from the UK, New Zealand at war and the impact of conflict.  He is perhaps best known for his famous and much-discussed study of Kiwi masculinity, A Man’s Country? The Image of the Pakeha Male. A new book, Brothers in Arms, about two First World War soldiers, is set for publication next year.

He has achieved recognition in the form of numerable scholarships and fellowships including selection as a Fulbright Visitor to the United States in 1992, Ian Ward’s prize for the best book in New Zealand history in 2009 and the Pou Arohanui Award from the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2011. 

He was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2013 and awarded Life Membership of the Professional Historians’ Association of New Zealand this year.

 

Jack Lasenby - 2014 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement - for Fiction

Born in 1931 in Waharoa in the Waikato, Jack Lasenby is widely acknowledged as one of New Zealand’s finest writers for children.  His titles are sought after and cherished by children and equally enjoyed and appreciated by adults.

He has worked as a postman, on the waterfront, as a gardener, a labourer and a fisherman.  He spent about ten years in the bush, deer culling and possum trapping.

He was a teacher, editor of the School Journal, and an English lecturer at Wellington Teacher's College until he left to write for children in 1987. 

He has children, grand and great-grandchildren, lived and wrote and sailed for many years at Paremata, and has just recently left his valley floor garden in Aro Street and moved into a dizzily high flat where he is unpacking his library and continuing to find time to write and bring new works to completion. 

Jack Lasenby was described by Margaret Mahy as “perhaps the most innately New Zealand writer of all New Zealand writers for children.”  In his own words, he says “I love New Zealand with an intensity that dazzles my thinking.” And he describes the book as “the greatest human invention after fire, whisky, and roast pork.”

He's the author of over 30 books for children, which include the Aunt Effie series, the Uncle Trev titles, ‘The Sedden Street Gang' trilogy, ‘The Travellers' quartet and the Harry Wakatipu books. He has been the recipient many times of the most highly regarded children's book awards: the Esther Glen Medal, the Aim Children's Book Award, and the New Zealand Post Children's Book Award.

Award-winning books include The Lake, The Conjuror, The Waterfall, The Battle of Pook Island, Because We Were the Travellers and most recently, in 2009, the New Zealand Post Junior Fiction Award for Old Drumble and in 2012, the New Zealand Post Young Adult Fiction Award for Calling the Gods.

Jack has been awarded many fellowships including the Writer's Fellowship at the Victoria University of Wellington, the Writer in Residence at the Dunedin College of Education and the Sargeson Fellowship in Auckland.  he was awarded the prestigious Margaret Mahy Medal in 2003 and the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book in 2012 for his first collection of stories, Uncle Trev.

The Jack Lasenby Award was established by the Wellington Book Association in 2002.
 

Ian Wedde - 2014 Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement - for Poetry

Ian Wedde was born in 1946. He is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, six novels, two collections of essays, a collection of short stories, a monograph on the artist Bill Culbert (NZ Listener best books in 2009; Dominion Post best art book 2012), and several art catalogues, and has been co-editor of two poetry anthologies and general editor of We Will Work With You: Wellington Media Collective 1978-1998. His work has been included in many anthologies and journals nationally and internationally.

His work has been praised for the vigour of its language and the wide scope of its ideas. His first novel, Dick Seddon’s Great Dive, was awarded a National Book Award for fiction in 1976 and in 1986, Symmes Hole established him as a major voice in Pacific fiction; the novel was hailed in the NZ Listener as ‘a remarkable and even triumphant achievement’, also receiving enthusiastic reviews when published in the UK. His satirical novel, The Viewing Platform (2006), was described as ‘A screamingly funny satire’ and ‘satire with bite, but also cunning narrative.’ Chinese Opera (2008) was Wedde’s fifth novel and is currently being adapted for the screen. His most recent novel, The Catastrophe (2011) was written during his 2009 Michael King Writer's Centre Residency.

Wedde won a New Zealand Book Award for his poetry collection Spells for Coming Out by Day (1978).  Ralph Hotere: Black Light, of which he was the general editor, won the Illustrative Arts section of the 2001 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. His most recent collection of poetry, The Lifeguard, was a finalist in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for 2013. He was the Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago in 1972, the Victoria University Writing Fellow in 1984, the Katherine Mansfield Fellow in Menton in 2005, and The University of Auckland Michael King Writer in Residence in 2009.

Wedde’s other awards include the New Zealand Literary Fund Scholarship in Letters (twice) and a Fulbright New Zealand Travel Award to the USA. He has been an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Auckland, a Research Associate at the Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies at Victoria University, received an Arts Foundation Laureate award in 2006, a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Auckland in 2007, and won the Landfall Essay Prize in 2010.

He has held positions as head of art and visual culture at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and as an adjunct senior lecturer in the departments of Art History and English at The University of Auckland.  In 2010 he was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2010 and in 2011 was named New Zealand Poet Laureate.

For 2013-14 Ian Wedde has been Creative New Zealand Writer in Residence in Berlin and his most recent book, The Grass Catcher - A Digression About Home was launched at the Berlin International Literature Festival in September 2014. Selected Poems 1971-2013 is in preparation with Auckland University Press, and a new novel, The Nap, is with Victoria University Press.

 

Elizabeth Knox - 2014 Michael King Writer's Fellowship

Elizabeth Knox was the 1999 recipient of the Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship which is offered annually to enable a New Zealand writer to work in Menton, France.

Her novel, The Vintner's Luck won the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the 1999 Montana New Zealand Book Awards, where it also received the Readers' Choice and Booksellers' Choice awards. It was also shortlisted for the 1999 Orange Prize, and in 2001 it was awarded the inaugural Tasmania Pacific Region Prize.

Knox was the recipient of a 2000 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award and was awarded an ONZM for her services to literature in the 2002 New Zealand Queen's Birthday honours list.

Her books have continued to gain awards and recognition:

Billie’s Kiss was short listed in the 2002 Montana New Zealand Book Awards.

Her novel, Daylight, was shortlisted for Best Book in the South Pacific & South East Asian Region of the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize.

Dreamhunter won the 2006 Esther Glen Award in recognition of distinguished contribution to New Zealand children's literature and was selected as an ALA (American Library Association) Best Book for Young Adults 2007

Dreamquake won the Michael L Printz Award in 2008 and an ALA Best book award in the same year.

In 2009, Knox received the Sir Julius Vogel Award for Best Collected Work, for The Invisible Road.

The Love School: Personal Essays was winner of the Biography and Memoir category of the 2009 Book Awards.

This year, Mortal Fire was a finalist in the LA Times Book Awards, and recently won the Young Adult Fiction category in the New Zealand Post Children's Book awards.

Elizabeth Knox receives the 2014 Michael King Fellowship award

 

 

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