The Eleanor Catton Saturday Series: Part II

Was Catton correct saying writers get little to no support from this greedy-right-wing-look-after-your-mates-and-shit-on-the-arts government?   Turns out, the support has been there – financial and otherwise.

The Taxpayers’ Union is releasing figures obtained from Creative NZ showing that author-turned-policy-critic, Eleanor Catton, has received tens of thousands of dollars worth of grants courtesy of New Zealand taxpayers. Taxpayers’ UnionExecutive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“In addition to the usual government support of students, Ms Catton has received special Creative NZ funding amounting to tens of thousands for her artistic endeavours. Far from not supporting the arts, it appears that taxpayers have been rather generous.”

“Despite The Luminaries being a commercial success, taxpayers still paid for the book to be translated into three languages. If that’s not generous support, what is?”

“We say again, if Ms Catton isn’t thankful for the support by the New Zealand Government while she wrote The Luminaries, maybe she should use some of the substantial royalties to pay the money back.”

$9,000: Writers Bursary for living expenses while writing The Luminaries
$5,000:  Arts Grant –to appear at the Vancouver International Writers Festival

$28,750: Arts Grant – to the University of Canterbury to support the Ursula Bethell Residency 2011 for creative writing. Eleanor Catton was one of two writers who undertook the residency in 2011.

International Travel Fund
$2000 to the Perth Writers Festival to support attendance by Eleanor Catton (and one other)

$3000 to attend the Edinburgh Writers Festival

$1500 for a joint application by four Canadian literary festivals to have Eleanor Catton attend their events.  They were the Kingston Writers Festival, Eden Mills Literary Festival, Ottawa Literary Festival and the Thin Air Literary Festival

$3000 to the Adelaide Writers Week to support attendance by Eleanor Catton (and five others)

Translation Grants
$1500 for the translation of The Rehearsal into Spanish – made to one publisher in Spain

$6000 for the translation of The Luminaries into Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese – made to publishers in Spain, the Netherlands and Portugal ($2000 each).

Michael King Writers Centre
Eleanor Catton was one of four writers-in-residence at the University of Auckland Residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in 2012. She worked on the final draft of her The Luminaries during her residency.   The residency programme is provided with support from Creative New Zealand and the University of Auckland.

Frankfurt International Book Fair 2011 – New Zealand Guest of Honour
Eleanor Catton was one of more than 60 New Zealand authors who were part of the New Zealand pavilion at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany in 2011.  New Zealand’s Guest of Honour appearance and pavilion were project managed by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.  All the New Zealand writers that featured were promoting a work in German translation and/or participating as invited authors in a range of German festivals and events or special Guest of Honour cultural exchanges and projects.

Taipei International Book Exhibition 2015 – New Zealand Guest of Honour
Eleanor Catton is one of 19 New Zealand writers who will be attending the Taipei International Book Exhibition in February 2015.  She is one of four New Zealand authors whose travel and accommodation was paid for by the Taipei Book Fair Foundation, as part of the Guest of Honour contract with PANZ.

Creative New Zealand has invested more than $100,000 in the project, over two financial years, and has contracted PANZ to project manage New Zealand’s presence at the fair.


As you can see.  Absolutely no support for the literary arts from the New Zealand government at all, and Catton appears to have experienced this lack of support personally, which is why she is totally justified in being critical…

…hang on a cotton pickin’ minute?

Her outburst was politically motivated.  Neither her personal experience nor the facts back up her assertions.



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  • Forrest Ranger

    Ungrateful does not even begin to describe her. Hopefully now that she has bitten the hand that feeds she will receive no further grants of any kind from a publically funded orgainisation.

    • Wallace Westland

      Well in a perfect world.
      Of course in ours the money is handed out by Creative NZ another group of pinko liberals that probably fully support her attack on John Key.
      Key is not going to interfere (and probably can’t anyway) as that would be seen as being petty and spiteful a tag that has hurt every politician except Helen.
      So I’d say brace yourself as our ungrateful Canadian import willingly accepts more Kiwi largess with no twinge of conscience or feelings of hypocrisy.

  • Kelvinmyhero

    Why are these ‘grants’ not treated like student loans? Once you get out into the real world and start earning money, pay back the tax payer.

    • Wahbonnah

      lol nice name as well KMH!!!

  • Rodger T

    Parasite..there`s a 10 dollar word you can put in your next book for free Eleanor.

  • Imogen B

    Feeding from the public trough does appear to cause some kind of financial amnesia.
    No help Eleanor, really?

  • Lance Ralph

    I hope that she didn’t use all these other taxpayer-funded trips overseas to badmouth her country as well.
    I have not read ‘The Luminaries’ but I did read her other novel, ‘The Rehearsal’.

  • KGB

    If your politics influence your life decisions at least have the courage to own and display such.

  • HR

    I laughed! Then I laughed some more! Precious, spoiled (and talented, no doubt) bigmouth gets owned in public for her stupid, self serving selfish rant.

    And I laugh again!

  • conwaycaptain

    She’ll be on the Green Party list in 2017

  • All_on_Red

    What? She’s been getting funding since 2007. I look forward to her new book ” 8 years a trougher”.

  • Curly1952

    All backing up my prediction that she is lining up for Wussels job!!

  • JC

    Plus of course nearly all this money was paid out under a National Govt, she gets to retain all profits from her books, interviews, endorsements and attendances and best of all she pays considerably less tax on her profits under a National Govt.


  • Talented certainly, spoiled absolutely, politically aware zero.

    What she doesn’t get is that her constant diatribe against New Zealand is compounded every time she opens her mouth. Of course she has the right to ‘free speech’ and no-one is stopping her saying out loud what she believes. However her attitude is utterly disgusting when one takes into account the significant support of around $100,000 tax free dollars, plus perks, plus book sales that happened as a direct consequence of this support.

    She would gain so much more credibility and support if she acknowledged the input of Creative NZ and didn’t spout her naive political views on the international book circuit. As it is I suspect all she is doing is compromising her market and she’ll be hard pressed to maintain book sales in NZ in future.

  • Luis Cannon

    The arts should bear the scrutiny of and be treated like any other business. I don’t see it as a function of government to support any elitist group. An artists work should stand or fall on its own merits and be valued accordingly. If it is worth purchasing then that should be the only criteria.

    • Cadwallader

      I question whether she’d regard Peter Jackson’s work as art simply because it pays its own way! For something to be true art it must only be appreciated by the inner circle of the bludgers who ache with insincerity and are somehow connected to artistic ability.

  • kiwiinamerica

    Great work by the Taxpayers Union – showed Catton up for the ungrateful spiteful Green whiner she is.

  • Cowgirl

    Like many of the Greens, it would appear that Ms. Catton doesn’t know when to shut up and stop digging. She has the right to criticise the government for sure – and I’m sure her outburst – whilst disappointing – would be like water off a duck’s back for National and Key at this stage. I do however take umbrage with her not only bagging out the government who have supported her, but all NZers who have (justifiably) taken pride in her achievement as a fellow Kiwi. Her not wanting to share her accolade with the country she calls home feels petty, churlish and ungrateful. Her bagging out of the government feels opportunistic and vindictive, and – above all – all of these things are negative. Not once does she offer a solution to any perceived problems, or credit to anyone for their financial support. She doesn’t even seem happy that NZers are proud of her.
    I haven’t read her book, but not sure I still want to (even though I am usually a big reader). I certainly won’t pay for it if I did. She has tarnished herself now, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Fine Eleanor, have it your way. I hope you’re happy now (I doubt it).

    • hookerphil

      It’s a struggle.I have put it down – perhaps one day I will pick it up again.

  • Pita

    We can only imagine how annoyed she’ll be when she doesn’t win the Nobel Prize in literature…

  • Pete

    Wasn’t there a bit of a hoo ha last year about Auckland council not funding a helicopter in favour of arts? Am I remembering correctly??

  • papagaya

    She’s a very fragile luvvie who only has herself to blame for the drama she now finds herself in. No doubt her impending breakdown will be covered by ACC.

  • caochladh

    Perhaps she should have a mug with a meaningful message to remind her where she is in the scheme of things as she travels through life………………….

  • WhaleBoyNZ

    Her quote : “I will of course discuss the frightening swiftness with which the
    powerful Right move to discredit and silence those who question them,
    and the culture of fear and hysteria that prevails. But I will hope for
    better, and demand it.”

    “and demand it” – What arrogance! She thinks she is better than everyone else because she is in the arts and has won a “prize”.

    She must think writing rubbish books while sucking on the taxpayers teet is more important than the work of police, doctors, engineers, builders etc. who actually do something real to help society. What a spoiled, elitist!

    I think culture and the arts are important but she needs to get some perspective! It has all obviously gone to her head.

    Also if she is trampling on the reputation of NZ and NZ’ers to progress her own political agenda then this is truly selfish and reprehensible.

    • Lance Ralph

      I agree with what you say, particularly with regard to arrogance but ‘rubbish’ is I think a bit unkind as a description of her book(s). One has after all won a major prize.
      I would though say turgid and I have used that word after leafing through ‘The Luminaries’ at an airport bookstore.

      • WhaleBoyNZ

        Yes I probably said that in anger and it probably was unwarranted. However I absolutely hate it when people look down on others because they think they are intellectually superior. My overall impression is she thinks she is better than most other Kiwis. It really grinds my gears!

  • Genevieve


    Definition: a person who is widely known
    Synonym: superstar
    Antonym: has-been

    • Cadwallader

      That daft Tim Roxborogh was calling her an icon last night. A bit over the top? No? Unless you include iconic ingratitude.

  • Monito

    Absolutely motivated by her political beliefs her acid tongue was more concerned about lashing John Key than any other agenda. Her actions have done so much damage to up and coming young writers but then again she is only concerned about number one it seems.

  • WhaleBoyNZ

    I think this is the real reason she is so upset:

    “New Zealand artist Dick Frizzell, who was a judge at last year’s New Zealand Post Book awards, told Radio New Zealand he felt as though Catton obviously still held on to some resentment for not taking home the top accolade.

    “There were some other very very good books… this is not the Booker this is a New Zealand prize,”

    What a princess and what disrespect to the winner.I think that the arts should receive less funding now if this is the kind of nasty, ungracious person the arts industry produces. The bottom line though is if anyone takes offense to her comments don’t support her by buying her books. Buying her books probably means a donation to the Green Taliban anyway.

    Does she understand the offense and anger she is causing and how patronising she is?

    • Lance Ralph

      Logical proposal, do not buy her books.
      I posted below saying how I had read her first novel. Actually I bought the book – still have it.

  • Sailor Sam

    No wonder Russel is fed up, with people like Catton, Lawless and others in the Green party.

    • Wasapilot

      Yep, who can blame him. Those you mentioned are far to right wing for his liking.

  • Skydog

    Actually, I don’t give Eleanor much thought. After all she only wrote a book that a panel thought was more interesting than others. Has she made a difference to society, saved a persons life, found a cure for cancer?

  • twr

    What an appalling list of profligacy with money forcibly removed from taxpayers. When people call this a right wing government they should take a look at this list.

  • yossarian

    I put her comments down to immaturity and lack of experience in the world. Absent these assets she is unable to frame her criticism a little more maturely. When she has a more solid background from which to make her ungrateful statements, and couch them in language that reflects some maturity, people may give her a bit more slack, while still disagreeing with her.

  • Chiefsfan73

    I have so come to cherish free speech, let her have it. At least we know where she stands, if we disagree, then vote with wallets. I have not nor now intend to pick up a copy. Any movie or do co will likewise not receive my support.
    I was thrilled for her when she won that accolade. Bit disappointed in her now.

  • Wasapilot

    For those of you who haven’t heard the chat that her daddy had with sean plunket here it is

    After listening to this, I am left in no doubt why her book is said to be repetitive, meandering and unnecessarily long. Sounds like she is a chip off the old block.

    • 1951

      Oh dear, I couldn’t get passed the repetitive ‘name-calling’ accusation. You just know the same person will come out with ‘deny-er’ in another conversation.

  • Radvad

    Not to mention all those oil guzzling air miles.

  • Jimmie

    C’mon WO you know that those payments weren’t grants, they were entitlements and as such don’t count.

    Also most of them were made when the neo liberal, right wing, anti-arts John Key government was in power so they doubly don’t count – almost like she was receiving blood money ripped from the pockets of the oppressed beneficiaries.

  • oldmanNZ

    My god, what does she want?
    a Ticker Tape parade?

    Does he want the government to spend evern MORE money on arts,
    don’t worry about health, transport, and other essentials, as long as people has a book to read or a painting to look at, it will be all good.

  • Ilovelife

    Judging by the comments made by her father she is a spoilt overindulged brat. Her grandmother spoke some common sense on the issue and has, no doubt, shaken her head at Eleanor’s upbringing. You’d be amazed at the idiots supporting her views, though. Admittedly they are either immature greenies or fanatical left wing morons.

  • intelligentes candida diva

    Oh dear the greedy little monkey isnt she.

    It reminds me of all the fuss about the book Eat Pray Love, Oprah hailed that as something extraordinary but having read it, it was nice but if you paid me a year in advance to gallivant and find myself by travelling several countries you betcha I could offer up a decent read.

    To me true artists are those who do it with limited input.

    SHE HAS HAD A LIONS SHARE & as ‘oldmanNZ’ below already said….. “My god what does she want..?

  • Rosey

    Like so many who have never had to fully take responsibility for themselves, she displays a distinct lack of gratitude. I would have thought thanking Kiwi’s for the wonderful support she has received, and then suggesting that if funding were increased many more writers may be able to enjoy the same success, would have been a way more positive way to go.

  • Disinfectant

    Maybe her job description should be “writer” and “serial grant applicant”.