The Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers' Fellowship is New Zealand's largest writing fellowship and supports established writers to work on a major project over two or more years.
When he met Michael King in 2000, Philip never imagined that he would one day hold the Fellowship named in his honour.
"It will change my life forever. It's a marvelous gift - two uninterrupted years to immerse myself in the mysteries of totara!" said Philip Simpson on hearing he had been awarded the fellowship.
Creative New Zealand Chief Executive Stephen Wainwright said he was pleased the Fellowship would support such a historically significant work.
"As a Montana award-winning writer Philip Simpson has already contributed two comprehensive and hugely enjoyable books on New Zealand's natural and cultural history" Stephen Wainwright said. "The iconic significance of the giant totara trees in New Zealand's development coupled with Philip's considerable rigour in his approach will result in a unique work of non-fiction that New Zealander's will relish."
Philip Simpson will be the seventh recipient of the Michael King fellowship since its inauguration in 2003. It was renamed in recognition of the late Michael King for his contribution to literature and his role in advocating for a major fellowship for New Zealand writers.
Previous recipients of the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writers' Fellowship are Owen Marshall, Vincent O'Sullivan, CK Stead, Rachel Barrowman, Neville Peat and Dame Fiona Kidman.