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Speaker bios - Storylines National Children's Writers & Illustrators' Hui 2017

Read more about the presenters and panelists (in alphabetical order) below:

Leonie Agnew, Auckland
Chair of Storylines Hui Planning Group

Leonie Agnew, an Auckland primary teacher and former advertising copywriter, won the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon award in 2010 with her junior novel Super Finn. This went on to win the 2012 New Zealand Post Junior Fiction award, the Best First Book and the Children’s Choice awards. It was also a finalist for the LIANZA Esther Glen award. Her third novel Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand won the 2015 Esther Glen Medal. That year, with a manuscript entitled The Impossible Boy, she also won the Master of the Inkpot Competition run by prestigious UK children’s publisher David Fickling Books. Leonie has served on the Storylines’ management committee for two years.
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Gavin Bishop, Christchurch
Workshop: Illustration. Kaumatua Panel

Gavin Bishop (Waikato, Ngati Pukeko) graduated from Canterbury's School of Fine Arts and was for many years an arts teacher. Since 1981 he has published more than forty books and exhibited widely in New Zealand and offshore. The Storylines Gavin Bishop Award for new illustrators was established in 2009. Among his many awards are the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, the Mallinson Rendel Arts Foundation Laureate, the Grand Prix Noma Concurs and more listings in the Russell Clarke, AIM and NZ Post awards than any other author. He has written and designed two successful ballets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Canterbury in 2016.

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Donovan Bixley, Taupo
Workshop: Illustration. Panellist

Australian-born but resident in New Zealand since childhood, Donovan Bixley has published more than 90 books sold in 25 countries, winning numerous awards. Accomplished as both illustrator and writer, also as a singer and instrumentalist, he is a popular speaker and visitor in schools. Besides his children’s books and acclaimed illustrated biographies of Mozart and Shakespeare, he has also illustrated many short stories for educational publishers. His work has been exhibited in New Zealand, Germany and Taiwan, with the New Zealand award-winning Monkey Boy named by the International Youth Library in Munich as one of the top 200 children’s books in the world.

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Fifi Colston, Wellington
Workshop: Public speaking for authors and illustrators

Fifi Colston has written and illustrated both fiction and non-fiction for children, but is equally well-known as a columnist, Wearable Art designer and popular television presenter on children’s and breakfast shows. Her non-fiction books demonstrate her skills in design, with her latest two books for children, Wearable Wonders and Ghoulish Getups, shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Book Awards, and Wearable Wonders winning the 2014 Elsie Locke Medal for Non-fiction. From the UK but resident in New Zealand since 1968, she has been a judge for the New Zealand Post Book Awards and convener of the Wellington Children’s Book Association.

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Joy Cowley
Workshop: Picture book texts. Kaumatua Panel

Joy Cowley came to international attention in the 1970s as a writer of adult short stories and novels before turning to write for children. Her publications include picture books, novels, short story collections, non-fiction and plays, as well as 800-plus short texts for international literacy programmes. For many years she has travelled widely to promote literacy, particularly in America. Among her many awards and honours are the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement for Fiction. In 2005 she was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to children literature. A founding Trustee of Storylines, she now serves as Patron.

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Dame Lynley Dodd, Tauranga
Panellist: International Panel. Kaumatua Panel

Lynley Dodd trained at Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Art and with the classic My Cat Likes to Hides in Boxes began to illustrate for children in the 1970s. Her Hairy Maclary books have earned her a huge international following and multiple New Zealand awards, with mischievous canine rogue Hairy regarded as one of New Zealand’s best-known popular icons. Other notable characters include Slinky Malinki and Schnitzel von Krumm. Characteristics of her work are the musical, perfectly-rhyming text and witty illustrations. In 2002 she was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to children’s literature, and she has also received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Waikato.

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Tessa Duder, Auckland
Keynote speaker. Kaumatua panel

Tessa Duder trained as a journalist and has published some 45 books since 1982, including the award-winning classics Night Race to Kawau and the Alex quartet, along with anthologies, short stories and non-fiction for both adults and children. Her awards include the University of Waikato Writers’ Fellowship, the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-loved Book, the Katherine Mansfield fellowship to Menton, France, and an Antarctica artists’ fellowship. She has received an OBE and an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Waikato. Also creative writing mentor and short story judge, she has been a Trustee of the Storylines Children’s Literature Trust since 2005.

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Kate De Goldi, Wellington
Workshop: Craft of Writing

Kate De Goldi is known for her impressive range as an award-winning short story writer, poet and novelist for children and particularly young adults, as well as a tireless advocate, acclaimed public speaker, reviewer, broadcaster and creative writing tutor. Her best-selling 2008 novel The 10 PM Question, NZ Post’s Book of the Year, won critical acclaim both in New Zealand and offshore, while the ground-breaking 2016 anthology ANNUAL recalls the annuals beloved of children fifty years ago. Her many honours include several major short story awards, university fellowships, an Arts Foundation Laureate, the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and the Michael King Fellowship.
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David Elliot, Dunedin
Workshop: Illustration

David Elliot holds a Fine Arts Diploma from the University of Canterbury and worked for many years as an art teacher both in schools and for adults, but it was time in a zookeeper's cottage in Edinburgh, drawing the animals at nights, which led him to a full-time career in illustration. His picture books, increasingly using his own texts, have won numerous awards and shortlistings, and he has exhibited widely around New Zealand. David’s work has appeared in the American Redwall, Castaway and Apprentice series. He was the inaugural Mallinson Rendel Arts Laureate, and won the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal in 2014. His most recent book Snark is an imaginative extension of two classic Lewis Carroll poems.

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Brian Falkner, Queensland
Keynote speaker. International panel

Brian Falkner grew up on Auckland’s North Shore, studied computer science and journalism and held a variety of jobs before publishing his first book in 2003. In 2008, with four novels under his belt, he won a place on the University of Iowa Writing Programme. His 2009 novel Brainjack was a Storylines Notable Book, also winning the NZ Post Children’s Choice award. Battlesaurus: Rampage at Waterloo was shortlisted for the 2016 NSW Premier's Awards, and won the NZ Book Awards Young Adult Fiction award. The sequel Battlesaurus: Clash of Empires, is a Storylines Notable Book. Currently living in Queensland, Australia, Brian is published in US and Canada, and regularly visits schools as a sought-after writing coach.

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Maria Gill, Warkworth
Workshop: Non-fiction

Maria Gill is a former teacher who since 2005 has specialised in non-fiction for the trade and international education markets. In 2013-14 she co-wrote a Writing for Young Readers MOOC for the Commonwealth Education Trust. For 13 years coordinator of the Kiwi Write4Kids writers’ group, she is in demand as a visitor to schools, creative writing tutor, reviewer and short story judge. Most of her titles have appeared in NZ Post Book Awards shortlists and Storylines Notable Books lists. In 2016 her book Anzac Heroes won both the New Zealand Book Trust Awards for Children and Young Adults for Non-fiction and the Margaret Mahy ‘Book of the Year’ Award.

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Paula Green
Workshop: Poetry for children

Paula Green, PhD, is a children’s writer, poet, reviewer, judge, teacher and staunch advocate for promoting children’s enjoyment of poetry, maintaining two popular blogs, New Zealand Poetry and New Zealand Poetry Shelf, and regularly touring schools to talk about poetry. She has authored nine poetry collections, several of them for children, and edited several anthologies including the recent Treasury of New Zealand Verse for Children. Her awards include Children’s Choice Award for the 2015 Book Awards, four Storylines Notable listings, the University of Auckland Literary Fellowship, and the MNZM in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list.

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Stacy Gregg, Auckland
Workshop: Writing

Stacy Gregg, of Ngati Mahuta descent, dreamed as a child of riding horses and being a writer. She owned her first pony at ten, and later enjoyed show-jumping and eventing. As a well-known journalist she wrote for newspapers and fashion magazines before combining her two loves and publishing her first book in her 14-book Pony Club Secrets series, set in New Zealand, in 2007. The Pony Club Rivals series, set in Kentucky, USA, also published by HarperCollins UK, followed. Three stand-alone novels have each won a NZ Post Children’s Choice award, and her two latest are both Storylines Notable Books. Stacy travels widely for research, to Spain, Arabia and Italy and most recently Russia.

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Casie Hermansson, Pittsburg, Kansas
Panelist: International Panel

Casie Hermansson, raised in Palmerston North and a Massey graduate, now teaches English Literature and Film and Media Studies at Pittsburg State University, in Kansas. She has published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry for children and youth in various American and Australian magazines, also for educational programmes. Her books include non-fiction, sci-fi, spy-fi, school stories, historical fiction, and folklore retellings, principally for Heinemann. A Fulbright Scholar, she has also written academically on children's literature (two books on Bluebeard, one on Peter Pan) and contributed advice for writers to the US publications Children's Writer and in Writer's Guide 2012 and 2013.

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David Hill
Keynote speaker. Workshop: Craft of writing. Kaumatua Panel

David Hill taught high school English for 14 years before becoming a full time and prolific author, playwright, school visitor, and widely-published reviewer and columnist. His novels’ many translations include French and Chinese. Awards include the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, the Esther Glen Award (twice), the Times Educational Supplement Award for Special Needs and the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for See Ya, Simon, and the 2016 Book Awards’ Children's Choice (Junior Fiction), while many of his more than 40 novels have been finalists for AIM and NZ Post awards and listed as Storylines Notable Books. He was the 2003 Dunedin College of Education children’s writers’ resident, and in 2004 received the NZOM.

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Mike Hudson, Auckland
Workshop: Theatre for children

Mike Hudson is a well-known producer, director and playwright in the New Zealand theatre scene. An Auckland intermediate school teacher, he has over twenty years’ experience in writing and producing theatre for young people, with his plays often catering for up to 150 young actors. Several plays have been toured throughout New Zealand and have featured in a number of New Zealand arts festivals. Wide Awake (2014) and Could Do Better (2016) were awarded Best Play for the Young by New Zealand Playmarket, while his adaptation of Tom Sawyer (Best Adapted Play 2016) was part of the Auckland Theatre Company's 2016 programme.

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Darryn Joseph, Palmerston North
Panellist: Maori publishing

Darryn Joseph PhD (Ngāti Maniapoto) teaches at Massey University in both te reo and English. Since winning the 2003 Huia Short Story award Te Pakiwaitara i te reo Māori mā ngā Pakeke, he has published more than 24 books for children in Māori: picture books, chapter books and text books. His fantasy graphic novel Hewa won the LIANZA Kura Pounamu Award in 2010. An avid reader especially of comic books, his latest fiction Te Poi Koiora explores the need to plan ahead for climate change. His non-fiction work about language has appeared in Mana Tāngata, Kawea te Wairua o te Kupu, and his children’s literature in Matariki Monograph. In 2017 he joined Storylines as a Trustee.

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Janice Marriott, Auckland
Workshop: Writer as editor

Janice Marriott, novelist, editor, tutor and manuscript assessor, graduated from Victoria University before studying librarianship in San Francisco and working in radio and TV in California and Vancouver. Returning to New Zealand, she worked for many years as audio producer for Learning Media as well as publishing more than 20 children’s fiction and non-fiction titles, winning AIM Supreme and Senior Fiction awards, the NZ Post Junior Fiction and Esther Glen prizes, and four Storylines Notable Books listings. She held the Auckland College of Education’s residency in 1994 and the Foxton Residency in 2001. Recent publications include three acclaimed gardening books co-authored with Virginia Pawsey.

Janice Marriott

Kyle Mewburn, Central Otago
Workshop: Picture book texts

Kyle Mewburn, Brisbane-born, variously European traveller, journalist, teacher, manager, dishwasher, kibbuztnick, settled in New Zealand in 1990. A full-time and notably prolific writer since 1997, he was the 2005 winner of the Storylines Joy Cowley award for a picture book text (published as Kiss! Kiss! Yuk! Yuk!). To date his 50-plus picture books and junior fiction titles have been published in 27 countries and won multiple awards, including NZ Post Picture Book and Children’s Choice prizes, and Storylines Notable Books listings. He held the Otago University children’s writers’ residency in 2011, and was President of the New Zealand Society of Authors from 2013-2017.

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David Riley, Auckland
Workshop: Self-publishing

David Riley lives in South Auckland and holds an MA in Social Anthropology from Auckland University, focusing on Pacific culture and history. He has worked as a researcher for the MacMillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies (Canterbury University) and as a freelance writer. A high school English and Drama teacher for nearly 20 years, he began to self-publish non-fiction in 2013, specialising in colourfully illustrated and meticulously researched titles on famous sportsmen in rugby, basketball and boxing. Recent books under his Reading Warrior imprint feature notable Tongan, Samoan and Niuean personalities. His books on Steven Adams and Samoan Heroes are Storylines Notable Books.

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Melinda Syzmanik, Auckland
Workshop: Writing 101

Melinda Syzmanik holds an MSc from the University of Auckland, a BA in English and Diplomas in Business Studies and Children’s Literature. She began publishing in 2006, and has since produced seven picture books, three junior fiction and one young adult title, as well as contributing short stories to the Australian School Magazine and the New Zealand School Journal. Among her awards are the NZ Post Children’s Choice, LIANZA Librarians’ Choice, and four Storylines Notable Books listings. She was the 2014 University of Otago College of Education Children’s Writer in Residence, and in 2016 was appointed a judge for the 2017 Book Trust Children's and Young Adult Book Awards.

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Tim Tipene, Auckland
Panellist, Maori publishing

Tim Tipene (Ngati Kuri, Ngati Whatua) is a writer, trained counsellor and martial arts expert and self-defence teacher. He was motivated by an abusive childhood to start the Warrior Kids programme in 1994, working with communities and schools. In 2014 he was a Kiwibank Local Hero Medalist, and in 2016 was appointed to the Sir Peter Blake Trust Dream Team as an inspirational Kiwi leader. Since 2001 he has published eight books, winning a Picture Book Honour Award at the 2006 NZ Post awards, and the LIANZA Te Kura Pounamu Award in 2009. In 2013, holder of 12 Dan Black Belts and various teaching titles, he was inducted into the New Zealand Martial Arts Hall of Fame. He was a Storylines Trustee for six years.

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Vasanti Unka, Auckland
Workshop: Illustration

Vasanti Unka trained as a graphic designer and has worked for many years as art director for children’s books and leading magazines (Herald on Sunday, Cuisine, Canvas and Little Treasures). In 2009 she gained a Masters degree in Design. Her first picture books appeared in 2001, followed by six others, winning a LIANZA Russell Clark award and several Storylines Notable Book awards. The 2011 winner of the PANZ Book Design Award, she went on in 2013 to win the NZ Post Picture Book and Margaret Mahy Book of the Year awards with The Boring Book, written, illustrated and designed by her. This title was also named a White Raven and chosen by New Zealand IBBY as an IBBY Honor Book.

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Zak Waipara, Auckland
Panellist: Maori publishing

A former New Zealand Herald graphic artist and AUT Digital Media lecturer, Zak Waipara (Rongowhakaata, Ngati Porou, Ngati Ruapani, Ngati Kahungunu) is now HOD of Animation at Animation College in Auckland. He has worked as a designer for Māori Television’s children’s show Miharo, illustrated comics and a range of books, and created animated music videos. In 2007 Zak was commissioned to create the poster for International Children's Book Day 2007, hosted by Storylines as NZ Section of IBBY (International Board on Books for Young People), and distributed to 70 member countries. At AUT he has won postgraduate research awards and been a three-time finalist in the Qantas Media Awards.



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