May 15, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views

And the Maori Book of the Decade goes to…

2 min read

Outstanding Maori authors deserve more than just an “afterthought” at the Montana Book Awards. This was the message delivered to a packed audience at the Nga Kupu Ora Book Awards ceremony last night.

The new Massey University award to recognise Maori literature was devised by Spencer Lilley, the university’s Maori library services manager.

While thinking of an innovative way to celebrate Maori Language Week in July, Mr Lilley and his colleagues realised Maori authors were consistently left out of major book awards.

Maori language categories were often tacked on halfheartedly, or significant books by Maori authors overlooked, Mr Lilley said.

“They are afterthoughts, only presented at the last minute and not given the same publicity as other winners are given.”

The popularity of the Nga Kupu Ora awards could be seen in the hundreds of people who voted for their favourite book on the Massey University website, Mr Lilley said.

And the name of the awards, which translated to “the living words”, showed how important it was to recognise the job Maori authors were doing in keeping the culture alive.

“It symbolises that those who create the words are mortal, but their words will continue forever,” he said.

The Maori Book of the Decade went to Waikato University Professor Ngahuia Te Awekotuku and Linda Waimarie Nikora and student researchers Mohi Rua and Rolinda Karapu for their book Mau Moko: The World of Maori Tattoo.

Massey University researcher, Ngati Kahungunu descendent and author Malcolm Mulholland won the Sports and Recreation category for his book on the history of Maori rugby, Under the Maori Moon.

“I’ve actually never won anything in my life before, so I’m a bit taken aback actually,” he said.

Kia ora to the Manawatu Standard for this article.

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