2020 Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement: winners announced and live online literary panel

10 Nov 2020

This content is tagged as Literature .

NEWS

Winners of the 2020 Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement (L-R) Tessa Duder, Sir Tīmoti Kāretu and Jenny Bornholdt
Winners of the 2020 Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement (L-R) Tessa Duder, Sir Tīmoti Kāretu and Jenny Bornholdt

A lifetime of insights on Māori dance arts told in te reo Māori, a comprehensive anthology of New Zealand poetry in English, and an illustrated story of how James Cook charted Aotearoa New Zealand are just some of the many achievements of those being honoured with the 2020 Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement:

  • Non-Fiction: Sir Tīmoti Kāretu KNZM QSO (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu) - a leading New Zealand academic of Māori language and the performing arts, a translator and author, and a key driver of the revitalisation of te reo.
  • Poetry: Jenny Bornholdt MNZM - an award-winning poet, anthologist, Arts Foundation Laureate and former NZ Poet Laureate.
  • Fiction: Tessa Duder CNZM, OBE - critically acclaimed children and young adult writer.

The Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, says, “It’s a real privilege to support these special, annual awards that celebrate the value our writers bring to Aotearoa. It was wonderful to see such a high volume of nominations this year – this just demonstrates New Zealanders’ appreciation and appetite for literature. Congratulations to Tessa Duder, Sir Tīmoti Kāretu and Jenny Bornholdt. Thank you for your significant contribution to New Zealand literature, your storytelling, and the legacy you’ve created.” 

Each recipient will be awarded $60,000 in recognition of their outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature.

“Our warmest congratulations to Tessa Duder, Sir Tīmoti Kāretu and Jenny Bornholdt,” says Arts Council Chair Michael Moynahan.

The usual Unity Books lunchtime in-store event will move to an online event this year so that these outstanding writers can be acknowledged for their contributions to Aotearoa’s literature. 

Michael adds, “We’re thrilled to have one of New Zealand’s leading broadcasters, John Campbell, host our live, online literary panel with this year’s recipients. Taking this approach will give all New Zealanders across the country rare access to these incredible writers together. People will hear first-hand about their work and inspirations, and the public will have an opportunity to submit questions.”

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

Nominations are assessed by an external expert panel and recommendations are forwarded to the Arts Council of New Zealand for approval. This year’s selection panel was David Eggleton, Apirana Taylor, John Huria and Tina Shaw.

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

Live Online Literary Panel

Creative New Zealand, in partnership with Auckland Live and The Big Idea, invites New Zealanders from across the motu to come together for a live, online panel discussion with the 2020 recipients of the Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement.

Tune in on Tuesday 24 November, 6.30-7.30pm to watch Tessa Duder, Sir Tīmoti Kāretu and Jenny Bornholdt read and discuss their work with one of New Zealand’s leading broadcasters, John Campbell.

During the live stream, viewers can submit questions to the writers via the comment threads on Facebook and on YouTube. The live stream will be recorded and made available for those that are unable to join.

This event is made possible with the support of Auckland Live. Presented in partnership with The Big Idea and supported by Unity Books.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Heather Byrne

Senior Communications Adviser | Kaiārahi Matua Whakawhitiwhiti Kōrero
Creative New Zealand | Toi Aotearoa
M: +64 27 292 1589 | E: heather.byrne@creativenz.govt.nz

Additional notes: author biographies

Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement ­– Fiction
Tessa Duder CNZM (Auckland)

Tessa Duder CNZM OBE writes for children and young adults and is also an author of short stories, plays and non-fiction. Her well-known Alex novels (adapted for film and television) are critically acclaimed and have been published internationally and republished again recently.

Among her numerous distinctions are an OBE and the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal. She won the 2003 Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship, was awarded an Artists to Antarctica Fellowship in 2007 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Waikato in 2008.

She won the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Senior Fiction prize in 2000 for The Tiggie Tompson Show, the Honour Awards Winner in 2010 for The Word Witch and has won multiple Storylines Notable Book awards.

In 2010, the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for young adult writers was established to recognise her outstanding contribution to children’s literature, both in her publishing output and her work to promote children’s books and publishing.

She was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to literature in 2020.

She is a past president of the New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc), a former Trustee and deputy chair of the Spirit of Adventure Trust and a Trustee of the Storylines Children's Literature Trust of New Zealand.


Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement ­– Non-fiction
Sir Tīmoti Kāretu KNZM QSO (Ngāi Tūhoe; Ngāti Kahungunu) (Havelock North)


Sir Tīmoti Kāretu KNZM QSO is a leading New Zealand academic of Māori language and the performing arts, a translator and author, and a key driver of the revitalisation of te reo. He served as the inaugural head of the Department of Māori at the University of Waikato and later became a professor there.

He was the first Māori language commissioner, between 1987 and 1999, and then was executive director of Te Kohanga Reo National Trust from 1993 until 2003. In 2003, he was closely involved in the foundation of Te Panekiretanga o te Reo, the Institute of Excellence in Māori Language, and served as its executive director.

In 1993 he was appointed a Companion of the Queen's Service Order for public services, and in 2017 he was named a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to the Māori language. He has been conferred honorary doctorates by Victoria University of Wellington in 2003, and the University of Waikato in 2008.

In 2019, he translated nine songs from English to Māori language for the album, Waiata / Anthems, which peaked at number 1 on the New Zealand album charts in September 2019. Together with Dr Wharehuia Milroy, he wrote He Kupu Tuku Iho (AUP 2018), on key aspects of Māori language and culture, which won the Māori Language Award at the Ockham NZ Book Awards in 2019. His other works include The Raupo Book of Māori Proverbs (2012), and Haka!: The Dance of a Noble People (2012). Mātāmua Ko Te Kupu!, a lifetime of insights on Māori dance arts told in te reo, was launched on 4 November 2020.

He is a former professor at the University of Hawaii, a prolific composer of waiata and winner of the 2012 Creative New Zealand Te Waka Toi Supreme Award.

Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement ­– Poetry
Jenny Bornholdt
MNZM (Wellington)

Jenny Bornholdt MNZM is a poet and anthologist who has been publishing collections of poetry for more than 30 years. Her poems have been continuously recognised in publications such as the Best New Zealand Poems online anthology, and she has been selected for numerous awards and fellowships including the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship (2002) and the Victoria University of Wellington Writing Residency.

She is an Arts Foundation Laureate (awarded 2003) and became the fifth Te Mata New Zealand Poet Laureate in 2005.

She has edited or co-edited poetry anthologies including An Anthology of New Zealand Poetry in English which won the 1997 Montana Book Award for Poetry and she won the same award in 2009 for her poetry collection, The Rocky Shore (2008).

She was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services as a poet in 2014.

Her most recent collection, Lost and Somewhere Else, was published in 2019. She is considered an influential poet for new and younger writers and her anthologising has helped increase the international reputation of New Zealand poetry and poets.