Authors, poets and directors honoured

ELEANOR CATTON: The writer became the youngest winner of the Man Booker Prize for her 832-page, 19th Century- style work, The Luminaries.
ELEANOR CATTON: The writer became the youngest winner of the Man Booker Prize for her 832-page, 19th Century- style work, The Luminaries.

The new star of Kiwi literature, an anti-establishment film legend, musical virtuosos, and husband-and-wife poets are among the arts figures given awards in this year's New Year honours list.

Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton crowned a year in which she became the youngest person to win the literary prize by becoming a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

At 28, she became only the second New Zealander to win the Booker for her epic novel The Luminaries, set on the West Coast during the 19th-century gold rushes.

Wellington film director Geoff Murphy, best known for his classic trio of New Zealand films Goodbye Pork Pie, Utu and The Quiet Earth, becomes an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

He said he had always felt an anti-establishment person, so receiving an honour was a great 范surprise.

However, he was not minded to turn it down. "It's a bit confusing really ... I haven't got used to it yet."

Beginning his career in the 1970s, he later worked in Hollywood, directing Young Guns II with Emilio Estevez and Under Siege 2 with Steven Seagal. He also worked as second unit director on The Lord of the Rings.

Husband-and-wife poets Jenny Bornholdt and Gregory O'Brien have both been made members of the Order of Merit for their contributions to literature.

Bornholdt, a former poet laureate, has written nine acclaimed collections of poetry, and worked to promote New Zealand writing overseas, while O'Brien won the Prime Minister's Award for literary achievement and Arts Foundation laureate award in 2012.

He has published nine collections of poems and drawings and written two books on art for young people, Welcome to the South Seas and Back and Beyond.

The pair worked together on the Oxford Anthology of New Zealand Poetry and the anthology My Heart Goes Swimming: New Zealand Love Poems in the 1990s.

Three members of the New Zealand String Quartet have also become MNZMs – cellist Rolf Gjesten, first violin Helene Pohl and violinist Doug Beilman.

The quartet has become one of the country's highest regarded musical exports, premiered dozens of New Zealand classical works, recorded CDs and taught at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington.

Another cellist, Allan Chisholm, received an MNZM in recognition of 38 years in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and diverse career in teaching and music.

Ballet administrator Amanda Skoog also becomes an MNZM.

She has been managing director of the Royal New Zealand Ballet since 2006 and served in various arts administrative roles in Europe and New Zealand for 20 years.

She said yesterday that she was chuffed to be recognised for her work, and even more impressed that she had managed to keep the news from colleagues.

It had been a hectic year overseeing the 60th anniversary celebrations of the company and she said keeping tight-lipped about it was made easier because of how busy everyone has been.

"I rang my husband and he was as excited, if not more, than me. I also told my mum and dad and my two boys."

She said it was pleasing that someone who worked in arts administration was recognised in the New Year honours.

Professional dancer and choreographer Candy Lane was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to dance.

Lane, who runs a dance company and studio in Auckland, was best known for her work as a co-host on TVNZ's Dancing With The Stars between 2005 and 2009. 

Fairfax Media