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Storylines Management Committee profiles

Current Storylines Management Committee Members

Leonie Agnew

Aucklander Leonie Agnew joined the Storylines Management Committee in April 2016. She began writing as a child but it was winning the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award in 2010, with her novel Super Finn, that provided the breakthrough.  This book went on to multiple awards in the 2012 New Zealand Post awards: the Junior Fiction award, the Best First Book award and the Children’s Choice award. It was also a finalist for the LIANZA Esther Glen Medal that year.  

Since then she has written two more novels, The Importance of Green and Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand (winner of the 2015 Esther Glen Medal). In 2015 she was chosen as the winner of the Master of the Inkpot Competition run by prestigious UK children’s publisher David Fickling Books for her manuscript, The Impossible Boy.  A former advertising copywriter, Leonie works as both writer and primary school teacher.

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Helen Beckingsale

Helen has been a children’s book enthusiast since encountering Tom Fitzgibbon and Betty Gilderdale at North Shore Teacher’s College and visiting Dorothy Butler’s bookshop when it was still based at her home in Birkenhead. She was a member of the Children’s Literature Association for many years and has been a member of the Storylines management committee since 2000. She is currently Children’s and Teens Librarian at East Coast Bays Library.

Tessa Duder

Tessa Duder was a founding member of Storylines’ forerunner, the Children’s Book Foundation begun in 1989. Her 40-odd books for both adults and children include novels, non-fiction, plays and anthologies. She is a past president of the NZ Society of Authors (PEN Inc), and has served on the Board of the Spirit of Adventure Trust since 1993. Among her awards are the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, the Meridian Energy Katherine Mansfield Fellowship 2003, the Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a Much-Loved Book 2005 and the 2007 Artists in Antarctic fellowship. She holds a O.B.E. and Honorary Doctorate from the University of Waikato. Tessa has been a Storylines Trustee since the inception of the Trust Board.  See also Tessa's author profile. 

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Sarah Fordyce

Sarah has avidly read everything from cereal packets to toothpaste tubes since the age of 3½, but since finding Storylines has focused her attention on the distilled essence of good literature: children's books. She has been a member of Storylines since 2001, joining the management committee in 2005.

Vanessa Hatley-Owen

Vanessa was a daydreaming child whose nose was permanently stuck in a book. Now, as a keen writer of stories for children, she has been published by Learning Media, shortlisted for both the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon and Storylines Joy Cowley awards for unpublished manuscripts, and her first picture book is scheduled for publication in November. She has been reviewing books for Booksellers New Zealand for the last two years and is a current recipient of a Society of Authors mentorship. In her day job, she is Communications Officer at a high-school where she sometimes gets to help out in her happy place – the library.

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Kaaren Hirst (Chair)

On becoming chair of the  Storylines Management Committee, Kaaren says,"I joined Storylines as I saw the need for those of us in the library profession to support children's literature, in particular New Zealand's. We have such an amazing pool of talent and our tāmariki are the richer for engaging with our authors and illustrators. I have been fortunate to help at many Storylines Festivals in the past and have been thrilled with the response to our current Storylines Story Tours that take our talented authors and illustrators into our regions.

I look forward to continuing the work of the Storylines Trust and continuing the promotion of New Zealand children's literature."

Kaaren has worked in education libraries, both university and secondary school, for 38 years. During her professional life she has always advocated for school libraries and their provision in New Zealand schools. This resulted in her becoming a Life member of SLANZA in 2015. As part of this advocacy she has also represented support staff in schools on the NZEI National Leadership group for Support Staff (SSNCKT) twice, and currently chairs the NZEI Auckland Regional Council.

Kaaren was convener of SLANZA’s Auckland regional committee for seven years and co-convener of the SLANZA national conference held in 2011 at St Cuthbert’s College. She volunteered at Storylines Family Festival Days for many years, and chaired the Storylines Festival national committee.


Libby Limbrick

Dr. Libby Limbrick worked in teacher education for more than two decades. She  recently retired as Head of the School of Arts, Languages and Literacies at the Faculty of Education, University of Auckland and the School of Curriculum and Pedagogy. Most of her teaching was with postgraduate qualifications for teachers specialising in literacy education. Libby is a strong advocate for the place of literature in teaching children to read and write. She has been a member of Storylines and its predecessors, the Children’s Book Foundation and then Children’s Literature Foundation of New Zealand, since 1992. She was co-director with Rosemary Tisdall, of NZ IBBY, hosts for the 35th International Congress of IBBY, Auckland 2016, and is immediate past chair of the Storylines Children's Literature Charitable Trust.

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Bridget Mahy

Bridget Mahy teaches English at Epsom Girls’ Grammar in Auckland. She grew up in libraries and as a consequence has maintained a keen interest in children’s literature. She is a Director of Mayhem Multimedia which oversees the management of the late Margaret Mahy’s body of work.


Helen Villers

As a Senior Lecturer in language and literacy at the University of Auckland's Faculty of Education, Helen manages to find a picture book or a novel to read aloud in every lecture – for pleasure first and, where possible, for every single theme and topic within a course – even hard ones like assessment, disability or difference. Helen loves to read, and if there is time left over, to run, to garden and spend time with friends and family. 


Storylines Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki and Friends of Storylines Te Pou o Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki together form New Zealand’s only national organisation working year-round to promote New Zealand children’s and young adult literature through activities that include a major national Story Tour to schools, early childhood centres and communities, and awards for writers, illustrators and those who work in the area of New Zealand children’s literature



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