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Tessa Duder Winner of 2020 Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement: Fiction


The Prime Minister’s Awards for Literary Achievement were established in 2003. Every year New Zealanders are invited to nominate their choice of a New Zealand writer who has made a significant contribution to New Zealand literature in the genres of non-fiction, poetry and fiction and this year OneTree House author Tessa Duder is the fiction winner!


Other winners were:

  • Non-Fiction: Sir Tīmoti Kāretu KNZM QSO (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu) - a leading New Zealand academic of Māori language and the performing arts, a translator and author, and a key driver of the revitalisation of te reo.

  • Poetry: Jenny Bornholdt MNZM - an award-winning poet, anthologist, Arts Foundation Laureate and former NZ Poet Laureate.


The Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister and Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, says, “It’s a real privilege to support these special, annual awards that celebrate the value our writers bring to Aotearoa. It was wonderful to see such a high volume of nominations this year – this just demonstrates New Zealanders’ appreciation and appetite for literature. Congratulations to Tessa Duder, Sir Tīmoti Kāretu and Jenny Bornholdt. Thank you for your significant contribution to New Zealand literature, your storytelling, and the legacy you’ve created.” 


Each recipient will be awarded $60,000 in recognition of their outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature.

Tessa Duder CNZM OBE writes for children and young adults and is also an author of short stories, plays and non-fiction. Her well-known Alex novels (adapted for film and television) are critically acclaimed and have been published internationally and republished again recently by OneTree House.

Among her numerous distinctions are an OBE and the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal. She won the 2003 Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship, was awarded an Artists to Antarctica Fellowship in 2007 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Waikato in 2008.

She won the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Senior Fiction prize in 2000 for The Tiggie Tompson Show, the Honour Awards Winner in 2010 for The Word Witch and has won multiple Storylines Notable Book awards.

In 2010, the Storylines Tessa Duder Award for young adult writers was established to recognise her outstanding contribution to children’s literature, both in her publishing output and her work to promote children’s books and publishing.

She was named a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to literature in 2020.

She is a past president of the New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN NZ Inc), a former Trustee and deputy chair of the Spirit of Adventure Trust and a Trustee of the Storylines Children's Literature Trust of New Zealand

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