Timaru author Owen Marshall has been awarded $60,000 in recognition of his outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature.
Marshall is one of three recipients of the Prime Minister's Award for literary achievement, receiving his in the fiction category.
One of the country's best-known authors, Marshall has written or edited almost 30 books, including novels, short stories and poetry, and is widely regarded as one of New Zealand's literary treasures.
"I'm very thankful. It's nice to feel that you're working hard and someone appreciates it," he said.
To Marshall, the award isn't so much a prize, as encouragement.
"It's very encouraging. I don't view it as a reward. I see it as an opportunity to work harder, to do better."
After treating the family to an enjoyable time in Wellington at the ceremony, he plans to invest the money.
It's not the first time Marshall has been awarded a large sum - in 2003 he was presented with the Michael King Writers' Fellowship, worth $100,000.
However, he said writing has never made him rich. "It has given me all sorts of opportunities though. I think I've been very fortunate."
Writing fellowships have taken him to destinations including Antarctica, China and France. At present he is living as a resident artist in Alexandra, where he is working on a contemporary novel set in Central Otago.
He says he loves writing as "a powerful form of communication".
"I come from a bookish family, and I suppose writers come from being readers, and wanting to make that extra step."
At 72, he jokes that he is working hard to squeeze his last few books out, "before I start losing too many grey cells".
Marshall joins Auckland University professor Michele Leggott, who is honoured for her contribution to poetry, and Sydney-based New Zealander Martin Edmond, who is honoured for his work in non-fiction.
The awards will be presented at a public ceremony in Wellington next week.
- © Fairfax NZ News