Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 18, 2023

2023 New Zealand Ockham winners

Update, later the same day:

I owe sincere and humble apologies to Claire at Word by Word.  If you saw an earlier version of this post, you will have seen that below my post, was a version with a copy-and-paste of Claire’s announcement of this prize.  The news about The Axeman’s Carnival had come through to me via Twitter but it was hard to read the book titles from the Twitter photo of the winners and my Twitter feed only showed the fiction and poetry winners,  and I also couldn’t find the actual names of the awards. And so I copied Claire’s post which had that info into mine so that I didn’t have to go back and forth between two programs.  And in a rush to get to an appointment, I pressed publish without previewing my post or, most importantly, acknowledging Claire as part of my sources.

So, Claire, I’m sorry! I couldn’t have written my post without yours, and this acknowledgement should have been in my earlier post.

Hard on the heels on the Miles Franklin longlist announcement comes news from across the ditch that one of my favourite authors has won the Fiction prize in the New Zealand Ockhams book awards.

Fiction Prize

If you follow Catherine Chidgey at Twitter, you may have encountered the narrator of The Axeman’s Carnival i.e.  @TamaMagpie. He was even more demanding today:

The Axeman’s Carnival won the People’s Choice award, and the $64,000 Jan Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction.

(I have promised myself that I will not whinge about my travails in trying to source a copy of this book.  Suffice to say that I placed a reserve at Bayside Library in March. I am first on the list, and I am waiting, waiting, waiting…)

Here are the other winners, from top to bottom in the image:

Best First Book: Jessie MacKay Prize for Poetry

We’re all Made of Lightning by Khadro Mohamed

Best First Book: Hubert Church Prize for Fiction

Home Theatre by Anthony Lapwood

E.H. McCormick Prize for General Non-fiction 

Grand, Becoming My Mother’s Daughter, by Noelle McCarthy

Jann Medlicott Prize for Fiction and the People’s Choice Award

The Axeman’s Carnival by Catherine Chidgey

Mary and Peter Biggs’ Award for Poetry:

Always Italicise, How To Write While Colonised by Alice Te Punga Somerville

Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction

Jumping Sundays: The Rise and Fall of the Counterculture in Aotearoa New Zealand by Nick Bollinger

General Non-Fiction

The English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi, by Ned Fletcher

Best First Book: Judith Binney Illustrated non-fiction

Kai, Food Stories and Recipes from my Family Table by Christall Lowe

Congratulations to all the authors, editors and publishers!



  1. No apology necessary Lisa, all this took place overnight while I slept. :) I did wake momentarily during the wee hours to read for a while and saw your Miles Franklin post, but rest assured I know your intentions are always well meaning and I’m sorry you experienced that moment of concern.

    I hope you’re able to read a few of the NZ books, it’s unfortunate how difficult they’ve become to source and how expensive they are. I hope the library systems keep them in circulation.


    • Thank you Claire :), you are very kind.
      I am so pleased about the win, I just love Chidgey’s writing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m so pleased it’s being published nearby, in the UK, so I’ll get to read it in the coming months. In the meantime there is another novel out or soon to be published by Chidgey called Pet, which is said to be equally good!


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