The winners of the University's Maori book awards, Nga Kupu Ora, were at the Manawatu campus on Monday night for an awards ceremony and presentation.
Five of the six category winners were present: Dr Ranginui Walker (Whakatohea), a former Auckland University professor; Dr Deidre Brown (Nga Puhi, Ngati Kahu, Te Aupouri, Te Rarawa), a senior lecturer at Auckland University; Dr Monty Soutar (Ngati Porou, Ngati Awa), the chief executive of Te Runanga o Ngati Porou; Professsor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku (Ngati Whakaue, Tuhoe, Waikato) from Waikato University; and Malcolm Mulholland (Ngati Kahungungu) from Massey University. The other winner was Dr Merata Kawharu (Ngati Whatua, Nga Puhi) of Auckland University.
Guests at the inaugural ceremony included pupils of three Maori girls' boarding schools, Turakina, Hukarere and St Joseph's, publishers, book sellers, Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey, and former Chancellor Morva Croxson.
Guest speaker was Professor Taiarahia Black, Massey's professor of Maori language, and the Massey Library's Kaihautau Maori, Spencer Lilley, who conceived the idea of annual Maori book awards in Te Wiki o Te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week), also spoke.
Margaret Kawharu, who accepted the award on behalf of her sister Merata, spoke of her memories of the Manawatu when their father, the late Sir Hugh Kawharu, was the founding head of Maori Studies at Massey.
Dr Soutar, a Massey graduate and former staff member, said the challenge facing authors in the modern age of technology, texting and on-line social media, was to produce books on subjects that young people want to read.
Mr Mulholland said the idea of awards for Maori authors had been talked about for many years and it was good to see a formal ceremony materialise.