A biography by internationally acclaimed fiction writer Patricia Grace has taken one of four awards at the Massey University Nga Kupu Ora Maori Book Awards.

Grace's book, Ned and Katina, tells the love story of 28th Maori Battalion soldier Ned Nathan and his wife Katina, who he met in Crete in 1941. It won the biography category at the awards.

Massey University PhD candidate Julie Paama-Pengelly won the award for art, architecture and design category for book Maori Art and Design: Weaving, painting, carving and architecture, which traced the origins and evolution of Maori art and design.

The history category was won by Contested Ground: Te Whenua i Tohea, The Taranaki Land Wars 1860-1881, edited by Kelvin Day. The book was published to coincide with an exhibition commemorating the 150th anniversary of the wars.

The te reo Maori award was won by People of the Land: Images and Maori Proverbs of Aotearoa New Zealand, by Sir Hirini Moko Mead and Lady June Te Rina Mead.

The winners were decided by public vote during Maori Language Week last week, and drew twice as many votes as last year.

Awards organiser Maori library services manager Spencer Lilley said other book awards were failing to recognise and celebrate Maori literature, which had inspired the Maori Book Awards, now in their second year.

An awards ceremony would be held at Massey University's Wellington campus Maori Language Day on September 14.