The book explores the struggle to save the Maori language over the last 40 years and one of the judges describes it as a groundbreaking te reo Maori publication.
Paora Tibble says the book mixes traditional language with modern metaphors and shows te reo Maori as a living language.
And Paula Morris, of Ngati Wai, won the fiction category with her historical novel Rangatira.
The novel is about her tipuna, Ngati Wai chief Paratene te Manu, and his visit to England in 1863.
Awards convenor Chris Bourke says the judges were impressed by what he calls the refreshing purity of purpose to Paula Morris’ story-telling.