Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 14, 2019

2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards winners

The 2019 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards winners have been announced.  The winners, harvested from Twitter, are in bold below.


  • The New Ships, by Kate Duignan (Victoria University Press),  see my review. 
  • The Cage by Lloyd Jones (Penguin Random House), see my review
  • This Mortal Boy by Fiona Kidman, (Vintage, Penguin Random House),  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)

There were Best First Book Awards too (I’m not sure if I’ve got them all, and welcome corrections if I’ve missed any)

Best First Book for General Non Fiction

We Can Make a Life by Chessie Henry (Victoria University Press)

Best First Book of Fiction

The Sound of Breaking Glass by Kirsten Warner (Makaro Press) (on my TBR at home)

Best First Book for Illustrated Non Fiction

Whatever it Takes by John Reid, (Victoria University Press)

For more information about the other awards, visit the Ockhams website.



  1. I love Fiona Kidman but haven’t read This Mortal Boy yet. She’s such a great writer.


    • Yes, she’s great. Have you read The Captive Wife? I think that is her best ever.


      • Oh no I haven’t. I must check it out. I interviewed her for the Belfast Book Festival a few years back and she was incredibly lovely. I enjoyed her autobiography very much.


        • It’s an early book, so I haven’t reviewed it on the blog. I keep meaning to re-read it and have recently found a second-hand copy. It’s the story of a C19th woman captured by the Maori and then returned to white colonial society, and the book explores all the different ways the woman was ‘captive’.


          • Sounds excellent Lisa. She’s still very underrated here in the UK – or maybe not known as much as I think she deserves to be.


  2. Congrats to Fiona Kidman. I’ve only read her The book of secrets, which I really loved and have never forgotten. I’d love to read more of her.


    • Keep your eye out for The Captive Wife. It was one of her first, but I think it’s her best.


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