Story: Awards and prizes

Page 6. General and international awards

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Fulbright fellowships

New Zealand’s geographical isolation means that awards to study and work overseas can be particularly valuable. One of the first sets of awards of this type was the Fulbright programme, festablished in 1948 through a bilateral treaty between the governments of New Zealand and the US as part of a worldwide programme. New Zealand was the fifth country to join the programme, which offered awards for New Zealanders and Americans wanting to study, research, teach or present work in each other’s country. By 2014 more than 1,700 New Zealand graduate students, artists, academics and professionals had received Fulbright fellowships.

Artists to Antarctica programme

In 1996 the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting recommended promoting understanding and appreciation of the values of Antarctica through the contribution of writers, artists and musicians. In each subsequent summer season two or three New Zealand artists, in any discipline, have travelled to the ice through the Artists to Antarctica Programme, established with Creative New Zealand.

The first recipients were painter Nigel Brown, writer Chris Orsman and poet Bill Manhire, in 1997–98. Other Antarctic arts fellows have been ceramicists, photographers, sculptors, choreographers, jewellers, designers and composers. Since 2008 Antarctica New Zealand has also run an invitation-only arts fellowship, selected by an expert panel and aimed at high-profile, senior New Zealand artists.

Arts Foundation of New Zealand

The Arts Foundation of New Zealand was formed in the late 1990s to encourage philanthropists to support New Zealand artists. In 2014 the foundation administered awards in seven categories, including the Marti Friedlander Photographic Award and the Mallinson Rendel Illustrators Award. The foundation established Laureate Awards in 2000 to encourage artists to develop their careers. These have since been presented annually to five artists, who each receive $50,000 and a bronze statuette. Arts Foundation of New Zealand awards are not decided through a competitive process, but are presented to selected recipients who do not know they are under consideration. By 2020, 205 artists had received a total of $6 million.

International literary awards

In addition to the national prizes and awards for which only New Zealanders are eligible, a wide range of international arts and science honours have also been won by New Zealanders, in competition with the rest of the world.

The Booker Prize, one of the world’s most prestigious awards for a work of fiction, was won in 1985 by Keri Hulme for her novel the bone people. In 2013 this award, now the Man Booker Prize, was won by another New Zealand writer, Eleanor Catton, for The luminaries. The Hans Christian Andersen Award for children’s literature, the world’s most prestigious award in this field, was won in 2006 by New Zealand author Margaret Mahy.

Nobel Prizes

Nobel Prizes for science have been awarded annually since 1901. The Swedish-based Nobel Committee selects prizewinners from a list of nominees. In 2018 the prize money was worth more than NZ$1.5 million. By that year, three New Zealand scientists had received a Nobel Prize for science:

  • Ernest Rutherford, chemistry, 1908
  • Maurice Wilkins, physiology or medicine, 1962
  • Alan MacDiarmid, chemistry, 2000.

Artists in the Order

In 2020 six of the 25 members of the Order of New Zealand, the nation’s highest order, were creative artists. Previous members of the order include composer Douglas Lilburn, poet Allen Curnow, author Janet Frame, potter Doreen Blumhardt, children’s writer Margaret Mahy and visual artist Ralph Hōtere.

Awards can be made to institutions as well as individuals. Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand has received a number of national and international awards, including the BearingPoint innovation in public service award (2005); BearingPoint innovation in services to Māori award (2005); New Zealand finalist in the World Summit awards, e-culture category (2005); a Webby award (2006); and a WriteMark award for best plain English website in the public sector (2008).

How to cite this page:

Mark Derby, 'Awards and prizes - General and international awards', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 20 June 2024)

Story by Mark Derby, published 22 Oct 2014, updated 1 Apr 2020