The future of the country’s premier book honours – the New Zealand Book Awards – is now firmly secured, thanks to sponsorship from Ockham Residential, an Auckland urban development company widely considered to be one of the city’s most innovative and distinctive developers.
The newly minted partnership provides the financial underpinning required for the prestigious literary awards to flourish, alongside support from the Auckland Writers Festival which will produce and showcase the awards event.
Ockham Residential co-founder and director, Mark Todd, says there are strong synergies between the Book Awards’ aims and Ockham’s philosophy.
“We set up the Ockham Foundation, an education-focussed charity, concurrently with our commercial development company. Right from the start, we knew we wanted to operate a business that had ambitions wider than profitability. Original thinking and critical thought are two key elements of public discourse we wished to promote by way of education.
“Currently we are working with the University of Auckland to fund First Foundation Scholars studying science and we are funding two postgraduate scholarships in Statistics. We recently funded an outdoor classroom and nature trail at Grey Lynn Primary School.
“Partnering with the New Zealand Book Awards in their pursuit of critical thought, creativity and literary excellence is a great fit for us,” says Mr Todd.
Established in 2009 by Mark Todd and Ben Preston, Ockham Residential has completed in excess of $140 million of market-leading residential developments on the Auckland isthmus and has a further $110 million of development in the planning stage or under construction.
Their sponsorship announcement comes just weeks after the announcement of a $50,000 prize for the top adult fiction work each year, to be provided by Tauranga community organisation, the Acorn Foundation, on behalf of one of its donors.
New Zealand Book Awards Trust chairwoman, Nicola Legat, says Ockham Residential is a truly outstanding sponsor. “To have an organisation so philosophically aligned to the awards makes for a robust and rewarding partnership for us all. We look forward to a long and happy association.”
The New Zealand Book Awards winners will be announced at an event during the country’s largest literary gathering – the Auckland Writers Festival – in May 2016. As part of its awards sponsorship, Ockham also joins the suite of Auckland Writers Festival gold partners.
“It is so heartening when businesses recognise the value of working with the literary arts,” says Festival Director Anne O’Brien.“The Auckland Writers Festival attracts some of New Zealand’s and the world’s biggest writing names. With attendance growing exponentially year-on-year (more than 62,000 in 2015), we are a future-focussed marquee proposition for businesses.”
There are four main awards categories: Fiction, Poetry, General Non-Fiction and Illustrated Non-Fiction and, should there be sufficient entries, a Māori Language category. Three Best First Book Awards are also given. Each category will be overseen by specialist judges, three per category, plus a Māori language adviser for the Māori language award. The judges will select a long-list of around eight books in each category, which will be announced on 25 November 2015. The shortlist of four books in each of the categories will be announced in early March 2016.
Entries to the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards open today and forms are available on the AWARDS SUBMISSIONS page. Books published between 1 June 2014 and 21 December 2015 are eligible for entry.