27 Nov 2012

Writers recognised with Prime Minister's awards

2:21 pm on 27 November 2012

Three of the country's best known writers have been honoured with Prime Minister's awards recognising outstanding contributions to New Zealand literature.

Albert Wendt, Sam Hunt and Gregory O'Brien were presented with the awards by John Key in Wellington on Monday.

Accepting his award, Albert Wendt said an addiction to reading at a young age was his pathway to becoming a writer.

"That addiction has brought me a wonderful education, a fulfilling job teaching and an absorbing life of writing and painting - and through all that, everyone and everything else that is worthwhile in my life."

Sam Hunt said he has been privileged to have been able to spend his life writing poems about life and death.

Gregory O'Brien, who has been writing about New Zealand's culture for nearly three decades, was the winner of the non-fiction category.

He said he was honoured to follow in the footsteps of previous winner Michael King and is inspired to continue writing.

Creative New Zealand chairman Alastair Carruthers says the number of nominations more than doubled from last year.

He says New Zealand's literature is now being recognised internationally, such as at the Frankfurt Book Fair where nearly 70 New Zealand authors got "extraordinary attention."