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Book & Print in New Zealand : A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa

Literary prizes and book awards

Literary prizes and book awards

McEldowney gives an outline account of state and private support for creative writing in New Zealand in his chapter in the Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English (1991, pp.574-79, 595-600). Creative New Zealand supplies a listing of special funds, fellowships, awards and scholarships in its publication Funding: A Guide for Applicants (1996) and the Department of Internal Affairs maintains a database of funding sources as part of its Link Centre service.

Before the establishment of the Literary Fund in 1946, competitions run by newspapers and magazines constituted almost the only regular acknowledgement of success for writers. The university colleges hosted a number of literary prizes, the most coveted of which remains the Macmillan Brown Prize. Substantial state-funded literary patronage began with the Centennial celebrations in 1940, when prizes were offered for work in a wide range of
Black and white photograph

An admiring audience for author Bob Kerr whose book Mechanical Harry won the inaugural Children's Choice award at the April 1997 NZ Post Children's Book Awards. Kerr's picture story book (published by Mallinson Rendel) explores some of the laws of physics through the adventures of Mechanical Harry, a genius inventor and descendant of Sir Isaac Newton. The popularity of the book (which didn't receive any of the awards decided by adults) has been a surprise, with the first edition selling out. (Photographed by Evening Post photographer Craig Simcox and reproduced by permission of the Evening Post; reference number 960-1997)

genres and centennial histories commissioned, including McCormick's pioneering survey, Letters and Art in New Zealand (1940). Largely owing to lobbying by the New Zealand Branch of PEN, the impetus created by the Centennial was sustained, culminating in the establishment of the Literary Fund in 1946. The extent of the Fund's support for writing and publishing during its first 25 years is set out in its report published in 1970 (New Zealand Literary Fund 1946-70). From 1950, the work of the Fund was detailed in the reports of the Department of Internal Affairs, published in the annual AJHR. The Fund was disestablished in 1988, immediately re-emerging as the Literary Fund Advisory Board of the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council, now Creative New Zealand.

Literary awards began to be privately sponsored with the establishment of the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Award for short fiction in 1959, organised by the New Zealand Women Writers' Society with the support of the Bank of New Zealand and still current. Mansfield's name is also associated with the prestigious Memorial Fellowship, a residential fellowship currently funded by the Electricity Corporation of New Zealand and administered by Creative New Zealand. The Wattie Book of the Year was founded in 1968 with the support of the Publishers Association and became the first of an increasing number of such awards. Recent issues of the annual New Zealand Books in Print provide retrospective listings of the winners of the various book awards. These currently include the NZ Post (previously AIM) Children's Book Awards (1983- ), the New Zealand Book Awards (established 1976) and the former Wattie (later Goodman Fielder Wattie) Book Award (1968-93), and its successor, the Montana Book Awards. In 1996, the Montana Awards amalgamated with the New Zealand Book Awards to form the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, managed by Booksellers New Zealand and offering prizes in six categories. The criteria for these and other awards are described in New Zealand Books in Print, as are other current sources of assistance for writers, including residential fellowships. The first of these was the Robert Burns Fellowship, set up from anonymous funding (widely attributed to Charles Brasch) at Otago University in 1959. Similar fellowships were established at Canterbury, Victoria, and Auckland Universities between 1978 and 1981, with other tertiary institutions following suit during the following decade.

Grants for research leading to a publication are available from, among other agencies, the Lottery Grants Board, the Historical Branch of Internal Affairs, the National Library of New Zealand, and the Stout Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington. Scientists and academics can apply for funding to the Marsden Fund, administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand, as well as to individual universities and the New Zealand Vice-Chancellors Committee. The major source of funding for creative writing is Creative New Zealand. As well as contributing to the university fellowships, and to the Todd and Louis Johnson New Writers Bursaries, which it also administers, Creative New Zealand distributes significant funds in the form of project grants to writers. These succeed the Literary Fund's system of Scholarships-in-Letters, Bursaries and Project Grants, which were designed to allow writers to work full-time for 12, 6 and 3 months respectively. The New Zealand Authors' Fund compensates registered authors for losses of royalty on books borrowed from New Zealand libraries. In addition, Huia Publishers offer the Huia Short Story Awards for Māori Writers. Finally, work in children's literature is currently recognised by eight awards briefly described in New Zealand Children's Book Awards: Complete List of Winners and a List of Books Shortlisted 1988-96 (1996).

Financial incentives and support for publishers are discussed in Chapter 3 under the heading 'Encouragement to publish' within the 'Process of Publishing' section.