June 12, 2023
Carving story wins Australasian prize
Melbourne-based Taranaki and Te Ātiawa writer Rachel Buchanan has jointly won the 2023 Ernest Scott Prize for the most distinguished written contribution to the history of Australia or New Zealand, or to the history of colonisation.
Her Te Motunui Epa, which explores the journey of a set of carved wooden panels across time, shares the prize with Australian historian Alan Atkinson for Elizabeth and John: The Macarthurs of Elizabeth Farm.
Judges described Te Motunui Epa as part detective story, part a public history, and also a crime narrative.
Most importantly, it demonstrates a deep engagement with a Te Ao Māori worldview and challenges orthodox views of perspective, voice and the narrative form itself.
Buchanan is the third consecutive Bridget Williams Books author to share the prize, following from Hirini Kaa with Te Hāhi Mihinare in 2021 and Lucy Mackintosh with Shifting Grounds in 2022.
Ned Fletcher’s The English Text of the Treaty of Waitangi was also shortlisted for the prize, with the judges calling it an important and substantial book … sure to become a landmark text in Treaty of Waitangi and international treaty scholarship.