Public and school librarians, teachers, booksellers, award-winning authors and illustrators, as well as passionate advocates of te reo Māori and te ao Māori, make up the two panels appointed to judge entries in the 2024 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Wānaka secondary school and public librarian Maia Bennett (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), who was a judge of the 2023 awards, will convene the English and bilingual panel in 2024. She is joined by literacy teacher Belinda Whyte of Levin, Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop co-owner Helen Wadsworth of Tāmaki Makaurau, bestselling author and publisher Kitty Brown (Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe, Ngāti Kahungunu) of Ōtepoti, and award-winning illustrator, author and artist Mat Tait (Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Kuia), who is based in the Motueka area. Mat was the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year winner at the 2023 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and will bring his knowledge of te ao Māori and te reo Māori to both the English/bilingual and Te Kura Pounamu judging panels.
Maia says she was delighted to be asked to return as convenor this year. “It is such a privilege to be part of this important mahi celebrating our local literature for children and young adults. This year’s panel of judges bring a wide range of expertise and experiences in a variety of fields, while sharing a passion for books and reading,” she says. “We look forward to the collaboration and spirited discussion that will no doubt ensue as we deliberate to collectively determine the very best children’s books from a highly competitive and innovative field of entries.”
The panel judging the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written or translated into te reo Māori will be convened in 2024 by experienced librarian Lawren Matrix (Tūhoe), who is the Whānau Learning Specialist for Auckland Council Libraries. In addition to Mat Tait, she is joined by kaitiaki pukapuka Mihi Te Rina Henare (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui), who works at Archives New Zealand in Tāmaki Makaurau, and support teacher and entrepreneur Quintin Te Maari (Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa).
“This year’s kaiwhiriwhiri for Te Kura Pounamu award offer a breadth of skills, knowledge of te ao Māori, and belief in the importance of reading for literacy,” says Lawren. “We come from various backgrounds in arts, education, information management and business, which will bring a depth and richness to the judging process. Mihi Te Rina and I have had the privilege of serving on this panel previously, and we welcome Mat and Quintin into the space. I look forward to working alongside these talented fellow judges, who all share my passion for our culture and reo, and for books.”
The 2024 judges will read and appraise an expected 160 or more entries in six categories: Picture Book, Junior Fiction (the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award), Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction (the Elsie Locke Award), Illustration (the Russell Clark Award) and te reo Māori (the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award). They will select up to five finalists in each category, as well as up to five finalists for the NZSA Best First Book Award, and then a winner in each category. The overall winner, the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, will be decided by both panels from the six main category winners.
Submissions for the 2024 awards are open to books published between 1 April 2023 and 31 March 2024. The first deadline, for books published up to 30 November 2023, is Wednesday 13 December 2023. Entries for books published between 1 December 2023 and 31 March 2024 will be accepted from Thursday 14 December. More details about how to enter can be found here: http://www.nzbookawards.nz/new-zealand-book-awards-for-children-and-young-adults/how-to-enter/
Category finalists will be announced on 6 June 2024 and the awards ceremony will be held in Wellington in mid-August 2024, preceded by a programme of finalist author events under the Books Alive banner.
The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are governed by the New Zealand Book Awards Trust Te Ohu Tiaki i Te Rau Hiringa. They are made possible through the generosity, commitment and vision of funders and sponsors Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, Wright Family Foundation, LIANZA Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa, Wellington City Council, The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa, and Nielsen BookData.
For more information about the 2024 judges, see below or go here: http://www.nzbookawards.nz/new-zealand-book-awards-for-children-and-young-adults/2024-awards/judges/
Any queries about the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults should be directed to Awards Administrator Joy Sellen at email@example.com.
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Convenor of judges Maia Bennett (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) is a secondary school and public librarian in Wānaka. A lifelong library lover, Maia’s professional path has traversed information technology, academic research and early childhood education, with all roads leading to librarianship. Knowing the vital role of school libraries in fostering literacy and wellbeing, Maia strives to provide a diverse and inclusive collection of books so students can see themselves and learn about others. Maia was a judge of the 2023 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Belinda Whyte is the Resource Teacher of Literacy for the Horowhenua region, based in Levin, a job that allows her to indulge her passion for books while supporting young students on their literacy learning journey. Belinda is national secretary of the New Zealand Literacy Association, and as president of the Manawatū chapter she was instrumental in organising a Reading for Pleasure Festival in Palmerston North in 2023. Belinda recently completed a Master of Education that centred on students’ online book discussions.
Helen Wadsworth has co-owned and managed The Dorothy Butler Children’s Bookshop in Tāmaki Makaurau for the last eight years. Her roles at the shop include book buying, marketing and of course recommending books to customers. Helen has read thousands of books, from many genres, for children of all ages. She particularly loves the familiarity of books set in Aotearoa by local writers and illustrators.
Kitty Brown (Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Kāti Mamoe, Ngāti Kahungunu) is a māmā, an award-winning author and an avid reader of children's literature from Ōtepoti. Her successful publishing partnership Reo Pēpi has 10 bestselling bilingual children's titles. Professionally Kitty is focused on elevating Kāi Tahu culture and te ao Māori in her community across diverse storytelling mediums including events, architecture, film and visual art. In 2023 she was Festival Director for the Dunedin Writers & Readers Festival.
Ko Kurahaupō te waka i kawe ai i ōku tupuna ki Aotearoa, nō tāwhiti rā anō.
Mat Tait (Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō, Rangitāne o Wairau, Ngāti Kuia) is a freelance artist, illustrator, writer and te reo Māori tutor based in the Motueka area. With a Bachelor in Fine Art in painting from Ilam School of Arts, his illustrations and comics work reflect a longstanding interest in pūrākau, mythology and local history. Mat won the Elsie Locke Non-Fiction Award and the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year at the 2023 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for Te Wehenga. Mat will bring his knowledge of te ao Māori and te reo Māori to both the English language and Te Kura Pounamu judging panels.
Ko te Tāhūhū o Haokitaha te Mauna, Ko Ōhinemataroa te Awa, Ko Mārini-a-wai te Kōawa, Ko Te Papakaina te Marae, Ko Nāti Koura te Hapū, Ko Tūhoe te iwi. He tanata ō Nāti Koura tēnei e kirikawa ki te Rākau.
Convenor of Te Kura Pounamu award panel for 2024 Lawren Matrix (Tūhoe) is the Whānau Learning Specialist for Auckland Council Libraries. A lifelong lover of libraries, cultivator of knowledge and advocate for the power of storytelling, Lawren has dedicated her career to advancing literacy, social and academic outcomes for Māori – a nod to her upbringing in Kawerau and schooling at St Joseph’s Māori Girls’ College. Lawren has a Bachelor of Māori Education from Te Wānanga o Awanuiārangi. She previously judged Te Kura Pounamu award in 2016.
Nō ngā Pukepuke Rau o Ngāti Hine a Mihi Te Rina, heoi, i tupu ake i ngā rekereke o ngā tini iwi o te rohe o Tāmaki Makaurau.
Mihi Te Rina Henare (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui) is an Assistant Support Archivist at Archives New Zealand in Tāmaki Makaurau. A raukura of Te Aho Matua, with a Bachelor of Library and Information Studies, she has a passion for te reo Māori me ōna tikanga, and is excited about the future of pukapuka Māori and a landscape that will encourage more Māori to become writers and storytellers. Mihi Te Rina was a judge on the 2023 Te Kura Pounamu panel.
He uri tēnei nō Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe, nō Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa anō hoki.
Quintin Te Maari (Ngāti Porou, Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa) is undertaking a teaching degree through Te Wānanga Takiura o ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa. He is a raukura of Ngā Kura-ā-iwi, and has a deep passion for storytelling and literature. Quintin has served as Cultural Lead at the Manurewa Youth Council and as a Youth MP for Youth Parliament 2022. He is the co-founder of Tukuna, a company using QR-coded technology to enhance Māori education, which he set up through the Young Enterprise Scheme.