PM’s literary awards for Cowley, McQueen & McNeish

Joy Cowley, Cilla McQueen and James McNeish received the annual Prime Minister’s Award for Literay Acheivement tonight.

Each receive $60,000 in recognition of their contribution to New Zealand literature.

Minister for Arts and Culture Christopher Finlayson, presenting the awards at Premier House on behalf of the Prime Minister, said the awards rewarded excellence and helped raise the profile of New Zealand writers.

These awards aren’t for a particular work, they recognise significant contribution to New Zealand literature over many years.

Previous winners are:

•Fiction: Janet Frame (2003), Maurice Gee (2004), Margaret Mahy (2005), Patricia Grace (2006), Fiona Farrell (2007), Lloyd Jones (2008), CK Stead (2009)

•Poetry: Hone Tuwhare (2003), Kevin Ireland (2004), Alistair Te Ariki Campbell (2005), Vincent O’Sullivan (2006), Bill Manhire (2007), Elizabeth Smithers (2008), Brian Turner (2009)

•Non-fiction: Michael King (2003), Anne Salmond (2004), Philip Temple (2005), Judith Binney (2006), Dick Scott (2007), WH (Bill) Oliver (2008), Dr Ranganui Walker (2009).

If you’re looking for some Labour Weekend reading I can recommend Cowley’s just-published memoir, Navigation.


10 Responses to PM’s literary awards for Cowley, McQueen & McNeish

  1. Cadwallader says:

    If these writers are truly valued by their respective readerships, why oh why, do they require monies from the taxpayers for the purpose of being capriciously lauded?


  2. homepaddock says:

    The awards were started by the previous PM. While I disagreed with many of her policies I can see merit in these awards to recognise a lifetime contribution to writing & NZ literature which rarely in NZ brings much in the way of financial reward.


  3. robertguyton says:

    Key failed to show two years in a row!!
    What’s with that Ele?
    Should we change the title?


  4. Cadwallader says:

    I continue to see these awards as not having any merit. If our top sports competitors (even the Black Caps!) simply received taxpayer funded awards for their efforts rather than pitting themselves against others would this mean they are champions?

    Sorry taxpayer largesse does not have a role in rewarding elite efforts. In fact it is worse than that: By receiving a government mandated gratuity aren’t these writers being rewarded for not writing in a manner that upsets politicians?


  5. homepaddock says:

    Robert – biased as I am towards John I have to accept he can’t be in two places at once 🙂

    Cadwallader – sports attract sponsorship which the arts don’t.

    Joy Cowley’s books sell all over the world.


  6. Cadwallader says:

    That’s well and fine, but it doesn’t justify a state seal of approval. When the state arbitrarily endorses certain works of art it suggests an acceptability that the market neither seeks nor demands. Whether the Cowley books sell well and widely is not a required measure in this taxpayer funded tribute.I won’t dispute it further but suffice to say an endorsement from the state is a doorstep to state control. This is ugly!


  7. homepaddock says:

    The awards are adminsitered by Creative NZ and nominations are judged by an expert panel (this year it was Graham Beattie, Morrin Rout and Bill Manhire). It’s public money but the state doesn’t choose who gets it.

    It may be an indication of priorities, the previous PM instituted these literary awards, the current one introduced PM’s science awards.


  8. Cadwallader says:

    I don’t wish to lock horns with you over this, but: What is the state’s role here? Is it laudatory or policing? There may well be an independent panel to ponder the entrants but the funds are tapped from the taxpayer at the instigation of the government. I’ll wager that a well written work which is received enthusiastically by the market would never recieve a grant if it was critical of the government of the day or flew in the face of any of its policies.


  9. homepaddock says:

    The state’s role is laudatory & funding. Awards are given for achievement over many years. I don’t think politics comes in to it – at least under this government.

    While I don’t know for sure what Brian Turner’s politics are I’d guess that he’s in the green and possibly pink to red section of the political spectrum yet he got an award last year.


  10. Cadwallader says:

    Agree with you re Brian Turner, he’s a watermelon!


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