Subversive, Genre-Bending Piece Wins 2020 Adam Foundation Prize

A genre-twisting written piece called Tauhou has won the 2020 Adam Foundation Prize, giving its writer Kōtuku Titihuia Nuttall (Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Rangatahi, Tsawout First Nation, Coast Salish) the recognition and support to put the piece into broader publication.

Tauhou was part of Kōtuku’s 2020 Master of Arts (MA) at the IIML. At Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington and the $3,000 prize money will give her the time financial support to further work on the piece.

“I want to thank the Adam Foundation for their incredible generosity—I am still in disbelief at my luck and circumstances,” says Kōtuku.

“For me, this award is an opportunity to rework my manuscript until it is fit for publication, which is such an invaluable gift. I’m still a little overwhelmed, but mostly I feel like my words have been heard and understood, and for that, I am endlessly grateful.”

The Adam Foundation Prize in Creative Writing and its $3,000 prize money is supported by Verna Adam and the late Denis Adam and the Victoria University Foundation. It is given annually to one outstanding writer in the MA in Creative Writing programme at Victoria University.

The prize was created in 1996 by Verna and Denis Adams with their wish to encourage and support young writers in New Zealand. Denis Adam had quoted saying ‘that art nurtured the finer instincts of human beings’, and it seems that notion resonated in Tauhou.

Senior lecturer Emily Perkins, co-convenor of the MA at the IIML was impressed with the way Tauhou managed to weave between stories stretching between First Nations Canada and Aotearoa New Zealand.

“It was a privilege to see Kōtuku’s folio develop over the year—those in the workshop were always blown away by the beauty and resonance that ran through her work, and by the deep originality of her approach.”

Kōtuku’s supervisor and MA co-convenor, poet and essayist Anahera Gildea add, “Tauhou weaves intergenerational experience across time and place with a lyricism that allows the reader to span oceans and to experience the visceral reality of both climate change, and the indigenous diaspora.

Praise even stretched as far as Australia, with Sydney University of Technology’s Gomeroi writer Alison Whittaker, noting its “integrity, craft and poise”.

Prior Adam Foundation Prize recipients include now prominent authors Ashleigh Young, Eleanor Catton, and Tayi Tibble.


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