Writer Ngāpuhi wins Surrey | Writing

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Southern Hemisphere’s Coolest Writers Residency Award Winners

The winner of the 2022 Surrey Hotel Writers Residency Award in association with Newsroom is J Wiremu Kane. Ngāpuhi, queer/takatāpui, doctor in a past life, emerging Maori writer this year in residence at Te Herenga Waka–Victoria University, and author of “Ringarewa“, a long short story so long and so fantastic that it was published over two days on the weekend of Waitangi, Kane wins seven nights accommodation at the Surrey Hotel in Auckland, plus $3,000 and a Sunday roast.

All the winners of the coolest residence award in New Zealand letters were announced a few minutes ago by Jesse Mulligan on his Afternoon broadcast on Radio New Zealand.

Second place – and $1,000 and five nights – went to famed Dunedin author Laurence Fearnley. His latest novel Winter hour takes place in Mackenzie Country. Owen Marshall loved it.

Tied for third place — $500 each and five nights — are Auē author Becky Manawatu and Hawkes Bay short story writer Shelley Burne-Field.

Plus there are three runners-up, who win four nights (no loot but they get free breakfasts and if they’re there on the weekend, a free roast) at dear old Surrey: jazz historian Dr Aleisha Ward, short writer Kirsten McDougall and novelist Catherine Robertson.

A judging committee had the devilish task of selecting the winners from a shortlist of 16 writers. It was incredibly tight. How tight? Each of the 16 received nominations from committee members. And so Kyle Mewburn, Amelia Rose Reynolds, Emma Hislop, Elizabeth Farris, Ashlee Sturm, Felix Desmarais, Melody Thomas, Tara Black and Fergus Porteous got close, very close indeed. Commissions to all.

But congratulations to the seven winners chosen for the 2022 Surrey Hotel Writers’ Residence Award in association with Newsroom. They must report to the hotel by December 1 or to the accommodation and the money is withdrawn, as is the hotel’s Sunday roast. The loot is courtesy of patrons and impressive gentlemen Dick Frizzell and Sir Bob Harvey. Accommodation is courtesy of Denise King, the hotel manager, who has supported the residency award since I first hosted it in 2016. Past winners are Kelly Dennett, someone whose I can’t remember the name because I never heard of her again, Megan Dunn, Colleen Maria Lenihan, Mia Gaudin and Talia Marshall.

Seven nights, five nights, four nights – sure, that’s not long enough to finish anything, but Surrey’s idea is to provide writers with wonderful, eccentric privacy to focus on their latest masterpiece- work, and maybe go somewhere with it, find an opener, create a scene, compose some really good sentences. Either way, great things are expected from the seven winners. Aleisha Ward will work on Jazzy nerves, sore feet and foxtrots, a history of the jazz age in New Zealand; Kirsten McDougall and Shelley Burne-Kennedy will work on short stories; Catherine Robertson will work on a novel set in Wainuiomata, Becky Manawatu will work on a novel set around a minor character in Auēand Laurence Fearnley will be working on a novel set in a hotel (“I was thinking somewhere like the Kelvin Hotel in Invercargill or the Brydone in Oamaru or the Surrey in Auckland.”)

As for the supreme winner of the 2022 Surrey Prize, J Wiremu Kane will be working on a historical novel, Whakarongorua. He described it thus, just a few days ago on the Twitter machine: “It will begin at the 1825 battle of Te-Ika-a-ranga-nui, with the death of Hongi Hika and Uruti Tewhareumu the end of the Musket Wars, the rapid settlement of Te Tai Tokerau, the burning of Kororareka, the relocation of my great-great-great-great-grandmother to Hokianga, her children, gender queer Whai and pansexual Hōri , from the freedom of early contact to the total rigidity of the Victorian era. It’s going to be fucking epic!”

Yes. Yes, it will; and it will be wrought in that faux-Tudor masterpiece, that literary saloon, that place of rest and deep reflection, that purveyor of a magnificent Sunday roast, the Surrey Hotel.

Many thanks to the 131 writers who participated in this year’s award. It was a pleasure to read their works in progress. Thanks also to Messrs. Frizzell and Harvey, who are already legends but their generosity makes them very beautiful legends in this case. Thanks, last but not least, to Denise King, manager at Surrey. New Zealand literature is indebted to him. She is really adorable.



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