Books about Mäori written by Mäori were the resounding choice of hundreds of voters in Massey’s inaugural Ngä Kupu Ora Book Awards held to coincide with Mäori Language Week.
Organiser Spencer Lilley, the University's Kaihautü Mäori (Mäori library services manager), says the idea for organising book awards recognising Mäori literature was a result of other major book awards consistently failing to do so.
Nominations were invited, finalists in six categories were selected and the public given the chance to vote on-line.
“The overarching trend across the six categories was that books about Mäori written by Mäori were the most popular," Mr Lilley says. "This is a reflection of how far publishing has come in this country in the past 20-30 years. Back then you would have been very hard-pressed to find a book about Mäori written by a Mäori author.”
Despite missing out on an award at the Montana Book Awards announced earlier in the week, Ngä Tama Toa: The Price of Citizenship by Massey graduate Dr Monty Soutar was a clear favourite in the history category.
The result of the te reo Mäori category also differed from the Montana awards, with Tähuhu körero: The sayings of Tai Tokerau by Dr Merata Kawharu of Auckland University narrowly beating He Pätaka Kupu te kai a te rangatira compiled by Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Mäori (the Mäori Language Commission).
Massey researcher Malcolm Mulholland’s Beneath the Mäori Moon was the winner of the sport and recreation category. Mr Lilley says the importance and popularity of Mäori rugby to New Zealand’s national game had been captured in the book. "Malcolm's win in this section reinforces the positive reception the book has received from reviewers and commentators.”
An awards presentation will be held on Mäori Language Day, September 14, to celebrate the success of the winners and acknowledge the contribution of the other finalists to Mäori publishing.
The complete list of winners in each category is:
Art, Architecture and Design – Mäori Architecture: From Fale to Wharenui and Beyond – Deidre Brown
Biography – Tohunga Whakairo: Paki Harrison: The Story of a Master Carver – Ranginui Walker
History – Ngä Tama Toa: The Price of Citizenship – Monty Soutar
Sports and Recreation – Beneath the Mäori Moon: An Illustrated History of Mäori Rugby – Malcolm Mulholland
Te Reo Maori – Tähuhu Körero: The Sayings of Tai Tokerau – Merata Kawharu and Krzysztof Pfeiffer
Book of the Decade – Mau Moko: The World of Mäori Tattoo – Ngahuia Te Awekotuku