2015 Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards winners announced

Winners of the Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards, back row from left, Rāwinia Higgins, Des Kahotea, Aroha Harris, Atholl Anderson, Bishop Muru Walters, Robin Walters, Sam Walters, Susan Mitchell (on behalf of Hilary and John Mitchell). Front row from left, Vincent Olsen-Reeder, Te Ripowai Higgins, Dame Iritana Tawhiwhirangi and Renia Whaitiri.

Māori histories and the arts have dominated Massey University’s Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards 2015.

The Awards presented at a dinner at Te Papa in Wellington last night, named six category winners selected from a shortlist of 15 finalists and an overall pool of 60 Māori books.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Hon Steve Maharey congratulated the authors for their important contribution. “What we are doing here is celebrating books that will shape the future of not only how Māori see themselves but taking those stories to the rest of the world as well”.
Mr Maharey said the fact that three of the finalist books were written in Te Reo Māori showed the language was a living one and he urged more to be written in Te Reo.

Guest speaker Ripeka Evans from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage reflected on the power of ngā kupu ora translated as a “few good words”.

“We all remember the iconic picture of Dame Whina Cooper starting the first land march with the simple words ‘Not one acre more’.

Author and historian Aroha Harris praised the awards for giving recognition to Māori books. “It’s important that we have Māori stories and Māori voices out there”.

Now in their seventh year, Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards are supported by Te Puni Kōkiri and run by Massey University.

The Kōrero o Mua (History) category was won by a book charting the sweep of Māori history from ancient times to the 21st Century. Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History by Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney and Aroha Harris has already won the prestigious Royal Society of New Zealand Science Book Prize and, with 500 images and commentary, is being lauded as one of the most significant Māori histories.  

The Kōrero Pono (Non-fiction) prize was awarded to Anglican minister Bishop Muru Walters, his son Robin and daughter-in-law Sam for their photographic celebration of the country’s meeting houses in the book Marae: Te Tatau Pounamu. Bishop Walters who’s also a master caver, poet, broadcaster and former Māori All Black can now add award winning author to his list of talents.

The Haurongo (Biography) category was won by Nelson couple Hilary and John Mitchell for the fourth and final edition of a series of books on the biographies of 28 Māori whānau in the Nelson and Marlborough area. It’s taken 10 years to complete the series with the publication of Volume IV: Ngā whānau Rangatira o Ngāti Tama me Te Ātiawa – The Chiefly Families of Ngāti Tama and Te Ātiawa.

The Mahi Toi (Arts) section went to a book that documented the painstaking process of rebuilding a Tauranga meeting house destroyed by fire. Te Tū Hanga Whare o Whetū: The rebuilding of Te Whetū o Te Rangi by Des Tatana Kahotea captured the efforts of local people as they undertook the creation of art works and carvings and navigated the Māori customs associated with the rebuilding of Te Whetū o Te Rangi Marae.

The Tuhinga Auaha (Creative Writing) award was awarded to an anthology of poetry, Puna Wai Kōrero by leading Māori poets and scholars Robert Sullivan and Reina Whaitiri. It is the first anthology of Māori poetry in English and includes almost eighty poets.

A book that aims to engage and reawaken Māori consciousness on the value of Māori language won the Te Reo prize. The Value of the Māori Language: Te Hua o Te Reo Māori draws on research from more than 30 contributors about the value of the Māori language and their aspirations for its future direction. It was edited by Associate Professor Rāwinia Higgins, Associate Professor Poia Rewi, and Vincent Olsen-Reeder.

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