Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 6, 2019

2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlist

The 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards shortlist has been announced.


  • The New Ships, by Kate Duignan (Victoria University Press).  I have this one, loved it, see my review. 
  • The Cage by Lloyd Jones (Penguin Random House), see my review
  • This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman, (Vintage, Penguin Random House), on my TBR, I’d better get on and read it! See my review
  • All This by Chance by Vincent O’Sullivan (Victoria University Press), see my review




  • Are Friends Electric? by Helen Heath (Victoria University Press)
  • There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime by Erik Kennedy (Victoria University Press)
  • The Facts by Therese Lloyd (Victoria University Press)
  • Poūkahangatus by Tayi Tibble (Victoria University Press)


  • Fight for the Forests: The Pivotal Campaigns that Saved New Zealand’s Native Forests by Paul Bensemann (Potton & Burton)
  • Wanted: The Search for the Modernist Murals of E. Mervyn Taylor edited by Bronwyn Holloway-Smith (Massey University Press)
  • Tatau: A History of Sāmoan Tattooing by Sean Mallon and Sébastian Galliot (Te Papa Press)
  • Birdstories: A History of the Birds of New Zealand by Geoff Norman (Potton & Burton)


  • Hudson & Halls: The Food of Love by Joanne Drayton (Otago University Press)
  • Memory Pieces by Maurice Gee (Victoria University Press)
  • We Can Make a Life by Chessie Henry (Victoria University Press)
  • With Them Through Hell: New Zealand Medical Services in the First World War by Anna Rogers (Massey University Press)

The winners will be announced on May 14th.

Update from Auckland 14/5/19 (before the awards are announced): You may also enjoy this article.


  1. Repeat after me….I don’t need more books, I don’t need more books, I don’t need more books….these sound interesting. I haven’t read many NZ books. The bird history appeals to me. 🤠🐧


  2. It’s been a frustrating experience to find reasonably priced books here in NZ. I was given a long list of authors in one of the local libraries but when I went to the shelves of two of the bookshops in town, not one was in sight. Instead they had tables of all the international best sellers that I can get at home at much lower prices……Sigh


    • Yup, I find it difficult here in Australia too. Fishpond (online) is an option for me because they do free delivery from NZ to Australia, but few Kiwi books make it into the shops.
      Part of the reason I think, is because the Kiwi market is so very small. Their entire population (4.8 million or so) is not much bigger than the population of Melbourne and if you extrapolate from that what the literary fiction market might be, or even the entire book market (kids, NF & general fiction as well) you can see that it’s not big enough for a bookseller to make much of a living unless he markets the popular bestsellers from overseas. (Mind you, bookshops in small Australian towns probably do much the same. It’s not about cultural patriotism, it’s about a small business surviving in a global economy).
      OTOH the Kiwis don’t IMO make the most of their nearest market i.e. Australia. The big publishers (Penguin Random House and Harper Collins take books across the ditch sometimes, but the smaller publishers (who of course publish the most interesting books) don’t have the reach to do that.


      • I had a really good conversation with a couple who run an indie bookshop in Nelson. They pointed out the economics of the situation – the low population is a key one because it means the market size is too small to enable the more economic big print runs.. But there is also the fct that books attracted a sales tax .


        • Yes, that used to be an issue here when books sold locally had to charge GST (like VAT) but online behemoths like Amazon didn’t have to charge it if the sale was under $1000. That’s since been changed here, but I don’t know about in New Zealand.
          But really, it’s a bit of a furphy: Even a 15% consumption tax only adds $1.50 to a $30 book, (and Australia’s GST is only 10%) which is not really going make people buy from Amazon which charges a lot for postage on top of its cheaper price. It is smaller print runs which adds so much to the price per book, and poor marketing which means the publisher can’t expect to sell many books outside NZ so they don’t do bigger print runs.
          But at the end of the day, when I get to NZ in May, it’s an easy decision for me. Buying some books will only be a small fraction of the money the trip will cost. I can choose to spend my tourist dollar on forgettable souvenirs, or I can support their book industry by buying books that will bring me pleasure for much longer. The only thing that will constrain my buying is the baggage allowance!


          • Hm, now you’ve given me food for thought. I’m with you about the lack of interest in buying souvenirs – why would I ever want a knitted version of a kiwi (yes they are around). But the idea of a book and remembering where I bought it is appealing. Now I just have to decide what to buy…


            • Knitted Kiwis, eh?
              Wait till you see what they sell in souvenir shops here!
              The best place in the world for souvenirs IMO is Russia. First, they give you a nip of neat vodka to warm you up, and then they have all sorts of gorgeous jewellery made of amber and replica Faberge eggs.


              • Nothing happens in Russia unless it is accompanied by vodka. I was organising a press launch and customer event some years ago to mark the opening of my employer’s new base in Moscow. So I and the local manager would have to visit PR companies and translators etc – everywhere we went he had a bag containing a bottle of vodka to be given as a gift

                Liked by 1 person

  3. […] New Zealand Book Awards.  Like the other titles (see links to my reviews gathered in one place here) it explores what it means to tell the […]


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