December 2012


The latest – and possibly last, but you never know – Alcohol Sponsorship Press Award is dedicated to honouring the year’s best and strangest New Zealand journalism.

The weekly award recognises excellence and strangeness in New Zealand media, including social media, blogs and things like that. The winner and finalists are announced every Friday on the Twitter account @SteveBraunias.

Since it was established in November 2011, the awards have become widely regarded as New Zealand media’s most coveted prize. The winner is awarded two bottles from award-winning wine label Grower’s Mark – as such, the awards credo is, “We don’t take the piss. We give it.”

The awards are taking a summer break. They are scheduled to return in late January – but only if a new sponsor comes on board.

Awards judge and Metro hack Steve Braunias said he wanted to thank outgoing sponsor, Grower’s Mark, for their support.

“Grower’s Mark has shown marvellous generosity in presenting two bottles of wine every week to the award winner. It’s made a lot of journalists less sober, which can only be a good thing.

“Grower’s Mark has also shown a lot of verve and wit in backing a media prize called the Alcohol Sponsorship Press Award.

“I’m confident that another sponsor will seize the opportunity to be associated with the awards, which are followed avidly by prominent media figures and sub-editors, bloggers and hard-working journalists, hipsters and hacks, musicians and poets, the intelligentsia and broadcasters, and all sorts of other people who take a close interest in quality media and quantity alcohol.”

This week, the judging panel – comprising a seasoned media professional in each of the four main centres, as well as Tangimoana and Scott Base, two settings which feature in the splendid new book by Steve Braunias, Civilisation: 20 Places at the Edge of the World – name the 10 best or strangest moments in New Zealand media in 2012.


10. An unbylined reporter (Taranaki Daily News), for “Scooter goes missing.” Judges said the 148-word narrative of memory and nothingness did more than any news story of 2012 to reveal the true nature of life – and journalism - in New Zealand.

9. Scott Hamilton (Reading the Maps), for “Te Radar finds goldfish, but misses the nukes and the strip mine”. Judges said it was a robust and occasionally manic piece of commentary from the admirable Hamilton, who has also written memorably this year about Tonga, the Great South Road and The Hobbit.

8.  Vanessa Gillard (Bay of Plenty Times), for capturing the unfolding  drama in her  photos of the Twin Towers tragedy

7. John Drinnan (NZ Herald), for “And here is the phoney news”. Judges said Drinnan’s attack was part of a series of his fulminations against the TVNZ initiative. They described Drinnan as, “The kind of columnist who gets as riled-up as a bear with a sore head. We like that.”

6. Cathy Odgers (Cactus Kate), for “Over-grieving in the modern world”. Judges said it was a manic and occasionally robust piece of commentary and much preferred it to the boring platitudinous laments inspired by Mahy’s passing.

5. Toby Manhire (NZ Listener), for the Friday quiz in his column, “The Internaut". Judges said it gave their lives meaning. They also wished to thank Manhire for alerting them to the year’s best photo.

4. Wellington journalist Laura McQuillan for what she wore at a murder trial. Judges said, “Pants.”

3.  In third place, Tony Wall (Sunday Star-Times) receives one bottle of Grower’s Mark wine for “MPs family probes dead mum’s missing money.” Judges said it was quite simply the scoop of the year, and added: “Tony Wall. Legend.”

2. In second place, Jose Barbosa (Pantograph Punch) receives one bottle of Grower’s Mark wine for his comedy masterpiece, “My Swim with Kim.” Judges said it was easily the best long-form piece of non-fiction writing published in New Zealand in 2012.

1. And the winner for the best or strangest story of 2012, and who takes away the glory and liquor of the Alcohol Sponsorship Press Award, is: the Timaru Herald, for its celebrated series, “Police notebook”.


Judges said the notebook was appointment reading, and noted that awards convenor Steve Braunias had sometimes emailed them to Wellington poet Bill Manhire for his consideration. “They read like lines of poetry,” said Braunias.

Recent examples of the notebook included the one about a wheelbarrow, the one about a sandpit, and the one about a paper cup.

“There’s a sense of the infinite about the notebook,” said judges. “You get the feeling it would continue to appear long after the world ends.

“It also has a dream-like quality. A getaway wheelbarrow, a paper cup on fire – in a few brief, intense lines, the notebook records strange and startling images.

“But above all the notebook is pure journalism. All journalists select, condense, dramatise; the notebook reduces complex events down to the bare minimum.

"They read like perfectly formed haikus.

“There we go again, referring to some high-end literary model when the great achievement of the notebook is its practise of good, low-end journalism, with its principles of accuracy and brevity.

“Timaru Herald features editor Claire Allison will receive two bottles of Grower’s Mark on the newspaper’s behalf. Her staff deserves a drink, and so does she. Salut!”

The more or less complete list of all winners of the Alcohol Sponsorship Press Award

Cheryl Riley (Greymouth Star)
David Sell
(Christchurch Press)
Patrick Gower
Jane Bowron
Adrienne Rewi
(Public Address)
Jon Stephenson

Grant Bryant
(Southland Times)
Matt Rilkoff
(Taranaki Daily News)
Rhonda Mark
(Timaru Herald)
Annette Taylor
(Number 8 Network)
Simon Collins
(NZ Herald)
Abbie Jury

Danyl McLauchlan
(Dim Post)
Sir Bob Jones

Bradley Ambrose

Colin Craig

Nick Dwyer
(George FM)
Jermaine Kerehi

Matt Heath
(Radio Hauraki)
Alistair Bones
(Waikato Times)
David White
(NZ Listener)
John Key

Sarah Stuart
(NZ Woman’s Weekly)
Andrew Holden
(Christchurch Press)
Greg King
Don Scott
(Christchurch Press)
Michael Laws
(Radio Live)
Louise Boyder
(Tarnaki daily News)
Tim Wilson

Adam Dudding
(Sunday Star-Times)
Maarten Holl
Mike White (North & South)
Stephen Stratford
(Quote Unquote)
Petra Finer
(Taranaki daily News)
Anna Williams
(Marlborough Express)
Toby Manhire
(NZ Listener)
John Armstrong
(NZ Herald)
Teuila Fuatai (NZ Herald)
Dan Whitfield
John Campbell
(Campbell Live)
Jonathan Marshall
Keith Ng (Public Address)
Josh Drummond
Sally and Jaime Ridge
John Bissett (Timaru Herald)
Kristin Edge (Northern Advocate)
Alex Fensome (Southland Times)
Laurel Stowell (Wanganui Chronicle)
Corey Charlton (Hawkes Bay Today)