Reviews of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalists

Ockham_Book_Awards_lo#26E84 (2)The finalists in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards have now been announced, giving readers 16 fine books to take a second look at, and consider among the best New Zealand books ever produced. The judges had an unenviable task, with 18 months worth of submissions considered, and of course they haven’t chosen everybody’s favourite books (wherefore no The Chimes?) , but it is a pretty fine list nonetheless.

Click the title you are interested in below to read a review, either on our blog, or if we haven’t yet had it reviewed, in another extremely reputable place.

Acorn Foundation Literary Award (Fiction) 


Image from Unity Books Wellington @unitybookswgtn

The Back of His Head, by Patrick Evans (Victoria University Press)
Chappy, by Patricia Grace (Penguin Random House)
Coming Rain, by Stephen Daisley (Text Publishing)
The Invisible Mile, by David Coventry (Victoria University Press)

How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, by Chris Tse (Auckland University Press)
The Night We Ate the Baby, by Tim Upperton (Haunui Press)
Song of the Ghost in the Machine, by Roger Horrocks (Victoria University Press)
The Conch Trumpet, by David Eggleton (Otago University Press)

General Non-Fiction


Image from Unity Books Wellington @unitybookswgtn

Maurice Gee: Life and Work, by Rachel Barrowman (Victoria University Press)
The Villa at the Edge of the Empire: One Hundred Ways to Read a City, by Fiona Farrell (Penguin Random House)
Māori Boy: A Memoir of Childhood, by Witi Ihimaera (Penguin Random House)
Lost and Gone Away, by Lynn Jenner (Auckland University Press)

Illustrated Non-Fiction
Te Ara Puoro: A Journey into the World of Māori Music, by Richard Nunns (Potton and Burton)
New Zealand Photography Collected, by Athol McCredie (Te Papa Press)
Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, by Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney, Aroha Harris (Bridget Williams Books)
Real Modern: Everyday New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s, by Bronwyn Labrum (Te Papa Press)

Enjoy these wonderful New Zealand books and share them far and wide.

The Ockham New Zealand Book Awards are supported by the Ockham Foundation, the Acorn Foundation, Creative New Zealand and Book Tokens Ltd. You can find out who the judges are here. The winners (including of the four Best First Book Awards) will be announced at a ceremony on Tuesday May 10 2016, held as the opening night event of the Auckland Writers Festival.

The awards ceremony is open to the public for the first time. Tickets to the event can be purchased via Ticketmaster once festival bookings open on Friday 18 March. Winners of the Acorn Foundation Literary Award, for fiction, win $50,000. Winners of the other three category awards each receive $10,000, the Māori Language award $10,000, and each of the winners of the three Best First Book awards, $2,500.

by Sarah Forster, Web Editor

Book Review: Te Ara Puoro – A journey into the world of Maori music, by Richard Nunns with Allan Thomas

Available in bookstores nationwide.

I was excited to rip into this book, which arrived at my house wrapped in cardboard due to its size and weight. Te Ara Puoro is large, stunning and hugely informative – an engaging read cv_te_ara_puoroand visually brilliant.

When wanting to discover more about taonga puoro (Maori musical instruments), Pakeha school teacher Richard Nunns asked Rose Pere what she knew, and it wasn’t until a year later she responded while he played the flute, “You make those instruments speak like people. You remember you asked me about our traditional instruments? Well, if you are meant to find out you will.”

Te Ara Puoro chronicles Nunns’ journey to rediscover his musical passion, and uncover and learn more about Maori instruments. Going through the instruments, Nunns covers all types of materials: bone, wood, stone, gourds, and even leaves and reeds. Nunns gathered knowledge from elders all over New Zealand over the last 40 years to help him to revive, understand, recreate and master taonga puoro.

Te Ara Puoro is wonderfully illustrated throughout with fantastic photography (I wouldn’t expect anything less from Craig Potton Publishing), and comes with a CD. The images and CD themselves tell a story, giving the reader a real insight in to what taonga puoro looks and feels like.

This book is far more than just a coffee table book. It is highly specialised, and as such may not appeal to everyone. I think the publisher says it well – “[this book] will undoubtedly be the most important written resource in existence on the subject.”

It should be in every school, and every library, allowing everyone with an interest in Maori culture access to taonga puoro and Richard Nunns’ substantial and invaluable work in this area.

Reviewed by Kimaya McIntosh

Te Ara Puoro
by Richard Nunns, with Arthur Thomas
Published by Craig Potton Publishing
ISBN 9781877517785