Best First Book Awards: The Winners!

Congratulations to all the recently announced MitoQ Best First Book Awards winners at the 2021 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. They show what a vibrant and thriving literary scene we have at the moment–one we should be proud of. Surprisingly all the winners this year were Wellington based. The winners were:

Fiction: Victory Park by Rachel  Kerr

Poetry: I Am A Human Being by Jackson Nieuwland​

General Non-Fiction: Specimen: Personal Essays by Madison Hamill

Illustrated Non-Fiction: Hiakai: Modern Māori Cuisine by Monique Fiso


We have recently had the great pleasure of hosting events on and offline for three of the winners!

Jackson Nieuwland

I am a human being / Nieuwland, Jackson
“Poet Jackson Nieuwland’s first published collection is a beautiful, complex and surreal body of work. The poems within are very intimate and display vulnerability, and fragility. Working with the concept that no single word can adequately defines us and the multiplicity of who we are and what we have, the potential to become is explored in a sequence of poems such as I am an egg, I am a tree, I am a beaver, I am a bear, I am a bottomless pit, etc. The works within are delicately accompanied by Steph Maree’s line drawings.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Madison Hamill

Specimen : personal essays / Hamill, Madison
“A father rollerblading to church in his ministerial robes, a university student in a leotard sprinting through fog, a trespass notice from Pak’nSave, a beautiful unborn goat in a jar … In scenarios ranging from the mundane to the surreal, Madison Hamill looks back at her younger selves with a sharp eye. Was she good or evil? Ignorant or enlightened? What parts of herself did she give up in order to forge ahead in school, church, work, and relationships, with a self that made sense to others?” (Catalogue)


Rachel Kerr

Victory Park / Kerr, Rachel
“Kara lives in Victory Park council flats with her young son, just making a living by minding other people’s kids – her nightly smoke on the fire escape the only time she can drop her guard and imagine something better. But the truth is life is threadbare and unpromising until the mysterious Bridget moves in to the flats. The wife of a disgraced Ponzi schemer she brings with her glamour and wild dreams and an unexpected friendship.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

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