Ockham Residential

2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards Finalists

Four of our best-known novelists – whose novels, appropriately for our times, explore what it means to tell the truth – are in the running for the country’s richest fiction writing prize with today’s Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalist announcement

The Cage by Lloyd Jones, This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman, All This By Chance by Vincent O’Sullivan, and The New Ships by Kate Duignan are shortlisted for the $53,000 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize.

“They stood out for their ability to explore personal memory and collective mediation of the truth in new and provocative ways that have a lasting impact on the reader,” says the Fiction category convenor of judges Sally Blundell.

Award-winning New York-based novelist Joseph O'Neill will assist the three New Zealand judges to select this year’s Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize winner. 

Today’s announcement includes two major new Awards’ sponsors. Mitochondrial science company MitoQ will sponsor the four Best First Book awards, and arts enthusiasts and philanthropists Mary and Peter Biggs will support the Poetry category.

MitoQ’s chief marketing officer John Marshall says that as one of New Zealand’s newest success stories, it is their pleasure to help emerging writers further enrich the country’s literature.

Peter Biggs says that with poetry undergoing a wonderful resurgence in our country over the last few years, it struck him as strange that the Award for Poetry was unsupported.

“We are thrilled to be involved and hope that the Award continues to recognise poetry’s – and the poet’s – vital role to, as Salman Rushdie says, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.”

The finalists in the Mary and Peter Biggs Award for Poetry are Are Friends Electric? by Helen Heath; There's No Place Like the Internet in Springtime by Erik Kennedy; The Facts by Therese Lloyd and Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble.

“The poetry collections on this year’s shortlist are marked by a striking diversity of approaches to the lyric poem, but all show an ambitious and engaging interest in experimenting with narrative, form, structure and voice without sacrificing emotional resonance,” says this year’s Poetry category convenor of judges Bryan Walpert.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction finalists are New York Times best-selling author and academic Joanne Drayton for Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love; lauded and much-loved writer Maurice Gee for Memory Pieces; debut author Chessie Henry for We Can Make A Life, and renowned editor and writer Anna Rogers for With Them Through Hell: New Zealand Medical Services in the First World War.

“We were excited by the fresh and diverse perspectives, new voices, and generous writing reflected in the shortlist, as well as by the appeal and attractiveness of the books themselves,” says General Non-Fiction category convenor of judges Angela Wanhalla.

In the Illustrated Non-Fiction category, the four finalists are: Fight for the Forests: The Pivotal Campaigns that Saved New Zealand's Native Forests by conservationist and journalist Paul Bensemann; Wanted: The Search for the Modernist Murals of E. Mervyn Taylor edited by investigative artist and researcher Bronwyn Holloway-Smith; Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing by senior curator Sean Mallon with anthropologist Sébastien Galliot, and Birdstories: A History of the Birds of New Zealand by writer, publisher and environmentalist Geoff Norman.

Illustrated Non-Fiction category convenor Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins says the judges were thrilled with the quality and ambition of the short-listed books, all of which clearly stood out from the rest.

New Zealand Book Awards trustee Jenna Todd says the Ockham’s shortlist is clear evidence of the vitality of New Zealand literature.

“Not only does the shortlist feature some of our best known writers - those with long and illustrious careers - but it also includes newcomers writing out of deep passion and engagement. These 16 books deepen the public discourse on a range of issues and the particular genius of each of their writers lifts them to an emotional plane at which they reward and endure for their readers,” says Ms Todd.


The New Ships

Victoria University Press

Kate Duignan

The New Ships moves deftly back and forth in time and place as Peter Collie, his life eroding after the loss of his wife, tries to make sense of the past and find a way forward. With ageing parents, a flailing relationship with his son, and a past tragedy, the strata of life and family are excavated and entwined with ideas of art and literature to produce an intriguing and elegantly written novel with a wide cast of memorable characters and not a word out of place.

The Cage

Penguin Random House

Lloyd Jones

Lloyd Jones has delivered a dark but clear-eyed parable of who and what we become when supposedly decent societies master the art of ‘othering’. The narrator’s intense specificity in detailing the two captive strangers’ processes and behaviours, without any seeming emotional context, allows the book to become quietly horrific, the banality of its evil played out as studious observation. It is a courageous book in its insistence upon not directly engaging with its seeming lack of humanity. But the cumulative effect is that its chilling images and their implications do just that.

This Mortal Boy

Vintage, Penguin Random House

Fiona Kidman

Spare, unsentimental and unforgettable, This Mortal Boy is a masterful recreation of the events leading up to the real-life hanging of “jukebox killer” Albert Lawrence (Paddy) Black at Mount Eden prison in 1955. With seemingly effortless proficiency, Kidman creates an intensely human and believable story as she positions Paddy, newly arrived from Ireland, within the moral panic of post-war New Zealand, the restless vulnerability of Auckland’s teen culture and the damning preconceptions of the legal profession, all leading to the appalling inevitability of his death.

All This by Chance

Victoria University Press

Vincent O’Sullivan

All This by Chance is a remarkably immersive three-generational family saga revealing the persistence of a wartime past on our personal histories and the undeniability of traumatic memory. In rich, often intense prose Vincent O’Sullivan weaves the dramatic tension of his story through time and place, from a German concentration camp and post-war London to Italy, Greece, Africa and New Zealand, all the while holding his characters to the unbreakable thread that binds them to the impossible demands of the Holocaust.


Are Friends Electric?

Victoria University Press

Helen Heath

Helen Heath’s collection, by turns thoughtful and moving, asks how the material world, including technology, might mediate – or replace – human relationships. The experimental first half uses found poems to engage how artifacts – sex dolls, buildings – become objects of human passion. The elegiac second half offers a touching speculative narrative: a woman embeds her deceased partner’s personality into software to avoid letting go. The question Heath suggests is perhaps less whether friends are electric and more whether they can, or should be.

There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime

Victoria University Press

Erik Kennedy

Erik Kennedy’s frequently playful book offers intellectual and aesthetic surprises, not least of which in the way it moves beyond its ironic mode to at times vulnerable meditations on politics, family, relationships and the self. The collection is notable for experiments in structure and prosody, weaving the contemporary, per the collection’s title, with updated nods to received forms such as the sonnet and rhyme. Kennedy’s frequently light tonal touch belies the difficulty of the linguistic manoeuvres it deftly performs.

The Facts

Victoria University Press

Therese Lloyd

Therese Lloyd’s The Facts combines ekphrasis, literary influence and the personal poem. At times darkly humorous and at others intensely uncomfortable, these poems explore a contemporary approach to the confessional lyric, interrogating emotional experience while maintaining self-awareness and a willingness to look outwards. One engaging thread in the collection is its investigation of the role of art and spirituality in relation to individual trauma and the process of healing.


Victoria University Press

Tayi Tibble

Tayi Tibble’s first collection brings us fresh, bold poems that saunter and shimmy with an unsettling self-assurance through a range of uncomfortable and familiar tropes. Her words are vital on the page: skewing and renewing the dusky maiden as millennial sex kitten. Her kūpenga snares scenes that an Aotearoa audience will recognise as our own awkward, unequal, power dynamic. Her lyrical kaupapa draws us in to peer at a two-way mirror that is playful, brutal, seductive and disquieting.


Fight for the Forests: The Pivotal Campaigns that Saved New Zealand’s Native Forests

Potton & Burton

Paul Bensemann

In this powerful account of aspects of recent environmental history in Aotearoa New Zealand, the author brings together a wealth of first-hand accounts and stories to provide an important record of the individuals and groups who made commitments to forest conservation and activism. Historic illustrations and well-chosen archival materials create a sense of context for the reader, while the use of contemporary photography captures the splendour of the natural environment that the book so rightfully celebrates.

Wanted: The Search for the Modernist Murals of E. Mervyn Taylor

Massey University Press

Edited by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith

Thoughtfully designed and beautifully presented, the creators of this book about the murals made by artist E. Mervyn Taylor in the 1950s and 1960s have paid considerable attention to both content and production values and the result is impressive. The writers are diverse, the text engaging, and with the aid of well chosen illustrations the book delivers texture and context to a group of important and often overlooked public art works. It also makes a significant contribution to the broader understanding of artistic and cultural activity in mid-century New Zealand.

Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing

Te Papa Press


Sean Mallon and Sébastien Galliot

This striking book detailing 3000 years of Sāmoan tattooing immediately invites closer investigation as a result of its integrated approach to design, photography, typography and writing. The ambitious scope of the subject matter and the knowledge of the main authors results in an important body of new scholarship, while the texts remain clear, accessible and engaging. Invited writers add a range of perspectives and experiences appropriate to the subject and intention of the book.

Birdstories: A History of the Birds of New Zealand

Potton & Burton

Geoff Norman

This handsomely designed and elegant book offers an expanded history of the birds of Aotearoa New Zealand. The combination of text and illustrations creates a work that is detailed, wide-ranging and informative, illustrating the writer’s advanced understanding of his subject. Birdstories seamlessly brings iconic historical images together with the work of more recent artists and designers to create a volume that presents a real sense of how these birds became a feature of our visual, natural and cultural history, while reinforcing a strong conservation message.


Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love

Otago University Press

Joanne Drayton

This deeply moving and often surprising story is a delight to read. Set against the backdrop of the onscreen double-act many of us will remember, Hudson & Halls conveys the humour, enduring love and drama of this couple’s public and personal relationship. Joanne Drayton’s fresh approach to storytelling highlights significant social and political moments over four decades and three countries, while the story and the book design celebrate some of the kitsch flamboyance of the pair and the period.

Memory Pieces

Victoria University Press

Maurice Gee

A fresh and evocative take on the memoir from Maurice Gee, one of New Zealand’s favourite fiction writers. Three years after the publication of a comprehensive biography, he offers his own Memory Pieces, a compelling three-part memoir exploring his parents’ relationship, his own childhood, and his Swedish-born wife Margaretha’s childhood. This well-crafted and often riveting story is told with warmth and generosity, and presented in a beautifully produced book.

We Can Make a Life

Victoria University Press

Chessie Henry

Beautifully written and highly engaging, We Can Make a Life is the story of a remarkable family and their life in the South Island. Told with warmth and curiosity by an exciting new writer with a fresh and compelling voice, Chessie Henry’s powerful memoir explores her childhood, family dynamics, mental health, and the impact of the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes on her family. The assuredness of the writing is complemented by the attractiveness of the book.

With Them Through Hell: New Zealand Medical Services in the First World War

Massey University Press

Anna Rogers

In this exquisitely produced book, Anna Rogers introduces us to the little-known story of New Zealand’s medical services during the Great War. Ambitious in scope, and engagingly written, all dimensions of the medical effort are covered, as are the significant challenges the doctors, nurses, stretcher-bearers, ambulance drivers and pharmacists faced in treating the traumatic impacts of war on the bodies and minds of soldiers. A remarkable history told with skill, compassion and empathy.

Ockham New Zealand Book Awards 2019 Longlist

The $50,000 Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize for 2019 will be judged by novelist and literary festival programme director Rachael King; novelist, short story writer and lecturer James George (Ngāpuhi); and journalist, reviewer and editor Sally Blundell. They will be joined by a well-known international judge in deciding the ultimate winner from their shortlist of four.

The Poetry Award will be judged by three award-winning poets: creative writing teacher Airini Beautrais; Massey University Associate Professor Bryan Walpert; and Karlo Mila, Pasifika poet who runs an indigenous leadership programme.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction will be judged by academic and award-winning science writer Rebecca Priestley; award-winning historian and academic Angela Wanhalla; and curator, educator and writer Karl Chitham (Ngāpuhi).

The Illustrated Non-Fiction Award will be judged by well-known writer and commentator Douglas Lloyd Jenkins; art curator and writer Lucy Hammonds; and long-time bookseller Bruce Caddy.


The Man Who Would Not See - Rajorshi Chakraborti

The Life of De’Ath - Majella Cullinane

The New Ships - Kate Duignan

Caroline’s Bikini - Kirsty Gunn

Mazarine - Charlotte Grimshaw

The Cage - Lloyd Jones

The Ice Shelf - Anne Kennedy

This Mortal Boy - Fiona Kidman

The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke - Tina Makereti

All This by Chance - Vincent O’Sullivan


Edgeland and Other Poems - David Eggleton

The Farewell Tourist - Alison Glenny

Are Friends Electric? - Helen Heath

All of Us - Adrienne Jansen and Carina Gallegos

There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime - Erik Kennedy

The Facts - Therese Lloyd

Winter Eyes - Harry Ricketts

Walking to Jutland Street - Michael Steven

Poūkahangatus - Tayi Tibble

Aspiring Daybook: The Diary of Elsie Winslow - Annabel Wilson


Fight for the Forests: The Pivotal Campaigns that Saved New Zealand’s Native Forests
- Paul Bensemann

Galleries of Maoriland: Artists, Collectors and the Māori World, 1880-1910 - Roger Blackley

The New Zealand Horse - Deborah Coddington and Jane Ussher

Wanted: The Search for the Modernist Murals of E. Mervyn Taylor - Edited by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith

Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing - Sean Mallon and Sébastian Galliot

Mataatua Wharenui: Te Whare i Hoki Mai - Hirini Mead, Layne Harvey, Pouroto Ngaropo and Te Onehou Phillis

Birdstories: A History of the Birds of New Zealand - Geoff Norman

Whatever it Takes: Pacific Films and John O’Shea 1948-2000 - John Reid

Down the Bay: A Natural and Cultural History of Abel Tasman National Park - Philip Simpson

Hillary’s Antarctica: Adventure, Exploration and Establishing Scott Base - Nigel Watson and Jane Ussher


Filming the Colonial Past: The New Zealand Wars on Screen - Annabel Cooper

Song for Rosaleen - Pip Desmond

Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love - Joanne Drayton

Memory Pieces - Maurice Gee

The Heart of Jesús Valentino - Emma Gilkison

We Can Make a Life - Chessie Henry

Swim: A Year of Swimming Outdoors in New Zealand - Annette Lees

The Vulgar Wasp: The Story of a Ruthless Invader and Ingenious Predator - Phil Lester

With Them Through Hell: New Zealand Medical Services in the First World War - Anna Rogers

Dear Oliver: Uncovering a Pākehā History - Peter Wells

Judges announced for 2018 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

An experienced panel of 12 judges – including prize-winning writers and poets, as well as historians, academics, curators and one of the country’s most respected booksellers – will   select the best books published this year for the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

The Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, which will bestow $53,000 on its 2019 winner, will be judged by programme director of WORD Christchurch Rachael King, whose novel The Sound of Butterflies won the Hubert Church Best First Book Award for Fiction in 2007; novelist, short story writer and lecturer James George (Ngāpuhi); and journalist, reviewer and editor Sally Blundell. They will be joined by a well-known international judge, whose identity will be revealed in March 2019, to decide the ultimate winner from their shortlist of four.

Finalists and the ultimate winner in the Poetry category will be selected by three acclaimed poets: creative writing teacher Airini Beautrais; Massey University Associate Professor Bryan Walpert; and Karlo Mila, who runs an indigenous leadership programme and whose collection Dream Fish Floating won the Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry in 2015.

The Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction will be judged by science writer Rebecca Priestley, Associate Professor at Victoria University of Wellington and recipient of the 2016 Prime Minister’s Science Communication Prize; award-winning historian and University of Otago academic Angela Wanhalla; and curator, educator and writer Karl Chitham (Ngāpuhi), director of Tauranga Art Gallery, Toi Tauranga.

Well-known writer, curator and commentator on all aspects of architecture, design and art Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, whose book At Home: A Century of New Zealand Design won the Montana Medal for Non-Fiction in 2005, is joined in judging the Illustrated Non-Fiction Award by writer and curator at Dunedin Public Art Gallery Lucy Hammonds; and experienced bookseller Bruce Caddy, recently retired from a retail career spanning more than 40 years in several of the country’s best bookshops.

Paula Morris, chair of the Ockhams sub-committee of governing body the New Zealand Book Awards Trust, highlights that many of the 2019 judges are writers – and previous award-winners – themselves. “All are part of our vibrant literary culture here in New Zealand, and bring expertise and insights, as well as a passion for reading, to the demands of judging a major prize.”

She also points to the fact that the number of books entered in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards increases every year, requiring more time for reading and deliberation by the judges. “As a result, after consultation within the industry, we have moved the announcement of the 2019 longlist to late January,” says Morris.

The judges will make their longlist of up to 10 books per category known on 31 January 2019 and the 2019 shortlist of 16 books will be announced on 6 March.

The winners will be announced at an awards evening held as the first public event of the Auckland Writers Festival on Tuesday 14 May 2019.

The first round of submissions to the 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards closes on 10 September 2018. Titles published between 1 January 2018 and 31 August 2018 must be submitted no later than 5pm, on this date. Entries for titles published between 1 September 2018 and 31 December 2018 open on 11 September and close at 5pm on Wednesday 24 October 2018. Entries can be made via http://www.nzbookawards.nz/new-zealand-book-awards/form/

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are supported by Ockham Residential, Creative New Zealand, the Acorn Foundation, Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd, the Royal Society Te Apārangi and Auckland Writers Festival, and are administered by the Festival on behalf of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust.  

We couldn’t have said it better…

This thought provoking article recently published in the New Zealand Herald makes for compelling reading – particularly if the thought of owning a home in central Auckland leaves you feeling like it is spiralling out of reach.  It can be as simple as shifting your thinking, explains REINZ CEO Bindi Norwell.  If the headline “How to buy in an exclusive Auckland suburb and save $1 million” didn’t catch your attention, the content surely will. Click here to read the full article.

Daisy is Open!

It's official, Daisy is open and has achieved a perfect 10 Homestar rating, making it New Zealand's 'greenest' apartment building! We are thrilled with the result and would like to thank everyone who has been involved for their dedication and hard work and also, Mayor Phil Goff for doing the honours in cutting the ribbon.