Friday, July 17, 2009

Inaugural Mäori book awards mark Te Wiki o te Reo

Massey University is marking this year’s Te Wiki o te Reo Maori (Maori Language Week) by celebrating excellence in Maori publishing. Books on Maori topics published in 2008 or 2009 have been reviewed and shortlisted for the University’s inaugural Ngä Kupu Ora Book Awards. While mainly targeted at staff and students, anyone can view the short-listed finalists online and at the campus libraries to vote for the winners.Kaihautu Maori (Maori library services manager) Spencer Lilley says the idea for organising book awards recognising Maori literature was a result of other major book awards consistently failing to include Maori items in their awards. “The only other book awards that has a regular Maori award is the Library and Information Association New Zealand Aotearoa Children’s Book Awards – Te Kura Pounamu Award, which recognises excellence in te reo Maori children’s books," Mr Lilley says.
He says books by Massey students, alumni and staff feature in five of the six categories of the Nga Kupu Ora Awards: Toi Ora, Ancestral Mäori Treasures co-written by Massey graduate Dr Huhana Smith is an art, architecture and design category finalist; Mata Toa, the life and times of Ranginui Walker by Professor Paul Spoonley is a biography category finalist; Ngä Tama Toa, The Price of Citizenship by graduate Dr Monty Soutar is a history category finalist; Beneath the Mäori Moon, An Illustrated History of Mäori Rugby by honours student and researcher Malcolm Mulholland is a sports and recreation finalist; He Püranga Täkupu a Taranaki by Te Reo o Taranaki involves input from PhD student Ruakere Hond in the te reo Maori category.

“Unfortunately a shortage of published Maori fiction in 2008 and 2009 precluded us from having a fiction category,” Mr Lilley says.“The short-listing process also highlighted a general lack of quality items published in te reo Maori aimed at fluent and sophisticated readers.” He thinks this might be due to “publishers perceiving the market for such items was small and unprofitable”.Voting closes on July 29. Voting forms will be available at the Manawatu, Wellington and Albany campus libraries.

Online voting is also available at or The winners for each category will be announced on July 31.

For the full shortlists link to the Massey website here.

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