2020 CLNZ/NZSA $5,000 Research Grants awarded to four outstanding projects.

Four New Zealand writers have each been awarded a $5,000 CLNZ/NZSA Research Grant for 2020.

The $5,000 grants support New Zealand writers who wish to undertake research for a fiction or non-fiction writing project. The judging panel received 55 applications and reported that the field was hugely diverse and interesting.

"We read exciting proposals for historical and fantasy fiction, graphic novels, writing for children and young adults and more. We hope that the good work enabled by these awards will find a publisher willing to champion it," says judging panel convenor Sarah Shieff.

About the Recipients

Fraser Smith: Bouncing Back

Fraser has been a primary school teacher and principal until early this year. He is currently finishing a trilogy that began with Awatea’s Treasure, grew to Awatea and the Kawa gang, and should end with Awatea’s Secret.

"I am thrilled to have recently been chosen to be a recipient for the 2020 CLNZ/NZSA Open Research Grant. My goal is to research and present stories from my Tipuna and whanau. These stories will entertain, explain, and help readers understand the place of traditional values in a modern world, and the influence past actions have on future generations," he says.

The judges said that Fraser's work was supported by a strong writing sample and they believe he is well placed to present his whanau story.


Vasanti Unka: Somewhat Indian - A New Zealand Story

Vasanti Unka is a writer, designer and illustrator who has won awards for her picture books both nationally and internationally, including the NZ Children’s Book Awards, for The Boring Book in 2014. Vasanti also produced an account of Indian women in New Zealand in her book: A Suitcase of Saris. Vasanti is a bit of a stirrer, one who speaks her mind – gently. Her aim is not to ‘keep calm and carry on,’ but to try and change people’s perceptions. And that is what she hopes her work can achieve as she steps out of the children’s book realm for her next adventure. The judging panel hope the grant will allow Vasanti to capture crucial, time-sensitive memories.


Elizabeth Cox: Elemental: New Zealand's Women Architects

Elizabeth Cox is a historian who specialises in New Zealand women's and architectural history, and has been writing about New Zealand's heritage buildings for more than a decade. Elizabeth runs her own heritage building consultancy, and also works as a historian at the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

She is currently working on a book about New Zealand's first women architects. Her research has already uncovered numerous women and their letters, architectural plans and other material from the early colonial period onwards. This research grant will allow her to expand the time period of the book by researching women working in the modernist era and beyond, in order to tell the stories of their education, their designs, their businesses and the impact they had on New Zealand's built environment.

The judges believe Elizabeth is well placed to tell the story of the undocumented history of women in architecture in New Zealand.


Wystan Curnow: Colin McCahon, Let Us Possess One World

Dr Wystan Curnow is an emeritus professor at the University of Auckland, where he taught English and American literature, and Creative Writing. He is highly regarded as an authority on New Zealand art, particularly on the work of Len Lye, Colin McCahon and Billy Apple. He has published five collections of poetry and contributed to journals such as the London Review of Books and Landfall. He has curated many exhibitions in New Zealand and abroad, including Colin McCahon, On Going Out With the Tide at the Wellington City Gallery (with Robert Leonard) in 2017. He is a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contributions to art and literature, and received the Prime Minister's Award for achievement in Non-Fiction in 2018.

His current project is a new book on Colin McCahon, a reinterpretion of his place in New Zealand and in world art. The judges appreciate that Wystan's project will reach beyond McCahon's work in New Zealand and believe the grant will support important research work.

CLNZ and the NZSA are delighted to assist New Zealand authors in their research efforts towards their writing projects. Research Grants are funded through the CLNZ Cultural Fund, which derives its revenue from a 2% share of domestic licensing income and from overseas revenue that is non-title specific. The 2020 judging panellists were Sarah Shieff, Renee Liang and Andrew Crowe.

NZSA was proud to administer the CLNZ/NZSA Research Grants this year. CLNZ and NZSA would like to thank all the writers who took the time to apply.

You can read more about previous Research Grant recipients here.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

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