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Auckland University Press Tops Books Awards For Fourth Year

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Auckland University Press Tops Books Awards For Fourth Year

This is the fourth year that Auckland University Press, a small publisher of scholarly non-fiction and poetry for the general market, has appeared at the top of the list in New Zealand’s national book awards.

Auckland University Press has three finalist books and two best first book winners in the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards (NZPBA) lists announced today. That puts AUP equal with much larger publishers Penguin and Random House on the NZPBA shortlist and top of the NZ Society of Authors (NZSA) Best First Book winners list, having taken out two of the three categories.

This is the fourth consecutive year since 2008 that an Auckland University Press book has won the NZSA award for Best First Book of Poetry.

NZSA Best First Book Award Winners

Dunedin academic Poia Rewi (Tuhoe, Ngati Manawa, Te Arawa, Ngati Whare, Ngati Tuwharetoa) has won the NZSA E H McCormick Award for the Best First Book of Non-Fiction for his book Whaikorero: The World of Maori Oratory.

“Poia Rewi is set to become one of this country’s leading Maori scholars and we feel very lucky to have worked with Poia on his first book, a work of deep insight into Maori language, history and culture,” said AUP Director Sam Elworthy.

The NZPBA judges found Rewi’s book “managed the difficult feat of being both a valuable record and manual of Maori oratory for practitioners, and an accessible overview for anyone interested in this ubiquitous cultural practice.”

Wellington poet Lynn Jenner has won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry for her Dear Sweet Harry, the manuscript of which also won the Adam Prize in Creative Writing.

“Lynn Jenner’s first collection Dear Sweet Harry grabbed us by the throat on first reading and never let go,” said AUP’s poetry editor Anna Hodge.

“Her poems and pieces are as impressive and death-defying and gratifying as the feats of her hero Houdini and his co-protagonists. And – for the fourth year in a row – AUP’s commitment to publishing new poets has been rewarded.

“Thanks to the New Zealand Society of Authors for this continuing tribute to the memory of Jessie Mackay.”

The judging panel described Lynn Jenner’s collection as a “fascinating and quite original miscellany of lyric poems, short prose texts, historical-documentary material, and autobiographical personae – all gathered together around the historical figure of 'Dear Sweet Harry' Houdini, the exemplary escape artist and masterful illusionist.”

NZ Post Book Awards Finalists
The Auckland University Press finalists in the New Zealand Post Book Awards are spread across two of the four of the award categories:

Poetry – Mauri Ola: Contemporary Polynesian Poems in English, Whetu Moana II edited by Albert Wendt, Reina Whaitiri and Robert Sullivan; and

General Non-Fiction – Blue Smoke: The Lost Dawn of New Zealand Popular Music 1918–1964 by Chris Bourke and No Fretful Sleeper: A Life of Bill Pearson by Paul Millar.

“The team at Auckland University Press are really thrilled to lead the field once more in the 2011 New Zealand Post Book Awards,” Sam Elworthy said.

“Each of our finalists was a big, ambitious book for the Press to take on: the many voices from across the Pacific gathered together in Mauri Ola; a big, revealing biography of a private and public man in No Fretful Sleeper; a decade of research and a photographic goldmine coming together in Blue Smoke.

“Working with great authors on such big ideas is what we like to do best at Auckland University Press and we congratulate our authors on their achievement.”

The winners of the NZ Post Book Awards will be announced at an awards ceremony in Wellington on Wednesday 27 July 2011. The awards for Best First Books of Poetry, Fiction and Non-Fiction will be also be presented at that event.

There will be a NZ Post Book Awards “Meet the Winners” lunchtime event the following day, Thursday 28 July, at Te Papa Tongarewa / The Museum of New Zealand. 

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