About the awards

The inaugural Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Book Awards were held in 2009 to mark Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, Māori Language Week at Massey University and to celebrate and encourage excellence in Māori literature and publishing. Ngā Kupu Ora is the name of the University’s library collection of Māori resources and translates as ‘The Living Words’. A copy of each of the winning books has been added to the collection held at the Manawatū campus.

Initially a panel of judges selected a shortlist of books and winning books were selected by public online voting. In 2011 a judging panel was convened to review and select a list of finalists and to select winners. For the first four years an awards event was hosted at Te Pūtahi-a-Toi the School of Māori Art, Knowledge and Education at the Manawatū campus in Palmerston North. In 2013 the name of the awards was changed to Ngā Kupu Ora Aotearoa Māori Book Awards and the awards event to celebrate winners moved to Wellington.

In 2016, the awards were expanded to include recognition of Māori journalism. The 2016 Ngā Kupu Ora Awards: Celebrating Māori Books and Journalism were held in Auckland on Monday 3rd of October hosted at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The first Māori Journalist of the Year award was made alongside a lifetime achievement award, Te Tohu a Tanara Whairiri Kitawhiti Ngata, named in honour of pioneering Māori journalist, Whai Ngata.

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