At tonight’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards, Wellington-based novelist and playwright Whiti Hereaka won the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction, winning $60,000 for her book Kurangaituku. The novel is a contemporary retelling of the traditional story Te Arawa Hatupatu and the Birdwoman, told from the perspective of the “monster” Kurangaituku.
Fiction Category Jury President Rob Kidd described Kurangaituku as “an extraordinary novel, unapologetically literary and utterly innovative”.
“Kurangaituku is poetic, intense, intelligent and sexy as hell. It is also an important novel. A game changer,” he said.
Te Papa author and senior curator Claire Regnault won the Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction for her book Dressed: Dress fashionable in Aotearoa New Zealand 1840 to 1910.
Category manager Chanel Clarke said even those who don’t think they have an interest in clothing and fashion will find the book appealing.
Historian Vincent O’Malley won the general non-fiction award for Voices from the New Zealand Wars | He Reo nō ngā Pakanga or Aotearoa.
Judges said his book paid greater attention to wahine than previous historians and treated disputed events carefully.
The winners of the Illustrated Non-Fiction and General Non-Fiction categories each won a $10,000 prize.