Wednesday, April 01, 2009



Elizabeth Caffin, who managed Auckland University Press for 21 years, will receive an honorary Doctor of Literature degree in Auckland next week (Maidment Theatre, 7 April, 7.30pm).

The award of the degree by The University of Auckland recognises her contribution as managing editor and then as director until mid-2007. In output, range, quality and electronic innovation AUP strengthened its local and international standing as a publisher of high quality books.

AUP published 359 books in her time as against 192 in the previous nearly 60 years. Some 47 received awards including 14 prestigious Montana Book Awards and many more were finalists for awards (sometimes up to five in one year).

Under Ms Caffin''s leadership AUP became the leading publisher of New Zealand poetry, entered new areas such as art history, politics and contemporary issues, while continuing to produce major books in New Zealand history, archaeology, biography and memoir, and on Maori and Pacific topics. These have contributed to the understanding New Zealanders have of themselves.
She sought books of depth and originality which are accessible to the thoughtful reader. She also moved AUP into electronic and internet publishing, putting out collections of Maori waiata and contemporary poetry with CDs and working with the NZ Electronic Poetry Centre.

Ms Caffin demonstrated strong business acumen as well as literary judgment. In 2003 AUP won the 2003 Thorpe-Bowker NZ Publishers' Award for outstanding achievement in the book industry for "continually producing fascinating New Zealand books that have outstanding editorial and production standards".

Before joining AUP Ms Caffin was involved in government and commercial publishing. She has sat on many committees associated with literature and publishing, and served as President of the Book Publishers Association of NZ from 2003 to 2005. She is currently a Guardian of the Alexander Turnbull Library and on the boards of Peppercorn Press and the Diploma of Publishing course at the Whitireia Polytechnic.

In 2005 she was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for her services to literature.

"Thanks to Elizabeth Caffin AUP is the pre-eminent university press in New Zealand, producing books that are scholarly, superbly edited, designed and printed, and highly readable," says the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart McCutcheon. "The press's output is one of the most striking and enduring ways in which the University contributes to the intellectual life of the community."
Bookman Beattie offers his warmest congratulations to Elizabeth Caffin for the great honour the Universioty are bestowing upon her. A richly deserved reward for the grand job she carried out with such distinction. For a book person it is hard to imagine a greater honour than this and I am absolutely delighted for Elizabeth.
For a report on Elizabeth's retirement from AUP last year link to my blog posting here.
And for a report on her Life Membership Award to the Book Publishers Association link here.

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