These annual awards offer four principal prizes: the Poetry Award, the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize, the Illustrated Non-Fiction Award and the Royal Society Te Apārangi Award for General Non-Fiction.
There are also four Best First Book awards, and a Māori language award for books written entirely in te reo Māori.
Winners of the Acorn Foundation Fiction Prize win $50,000. Winners of the other three principal category awards each receive $10,000, the Māori language award $10,000, and each of the winners of the four Best First Book awards, $2,500.
Panels of three judges each are selected to judge each of the categories.
Forty books have been selected for the 2017 longlist, in the categories of fiction, illustrated non-fiction, general non-fiction and poetry.
The awards are held each year in May, as part of the Auckland Writers Festival, in a partnership between the New Zealand Book Awards Trust and the Auckland Readers and Writers Festival Trust.