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Storylines Management Committee profiles

Leonie Agnew-302-59-39Leonie 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.  

Helen_Beckingsale_2.jpgHelen 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.

Christine Dale 2018-118-850Christine Dale

Christine Dale holds a DipBus and has worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years, many years as Publishing Manager at Scholastic NZ Ltd. During that time she helped to foster the strong relationship between Scholastic and Storylines with the establishment of first the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award and then the Storylines Joy Cowley Award. She has also illustrated several books and written one picture book. After retiring from Scholastic she has continued to support new writers as a member of the Manuscript Assessors Association through her design company dahlDESIGN. She continues to work with writers and illustrators of children’s books, as well as designing and project managing other works. 

Tessa Duder-570Tessa 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. 

Sarah_Fordyce_1.jpgSarah 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 with Storylines since 2001, joining the management committee in 2005.

Vanessa Hatley-Owen-690Vanessa 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.

Kaaren Hirst

Kaaren has 25 years’ experience in school libraries and working on committees. Active as an Auckland representative on the National Executive of the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA), she 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 has volunteered at Storylines Family Festival Days for the last seven years, and chairs the Storylines Festival national committee.

Libby Limbrick-625-126Libby Limbrick

Dr. Libby Limbrick has worked in teacher education for the past two decades. She has 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 has been 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 is currently Co-director with Rosemary Tisdall, of NZ IBBY, hosts for the 35th International Congress of IBBY, Auckland 2016.  

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. 

Sussannah McKenzie-801Susannah McKenzie

Susannah's desire to be involved in children’s education came later than most. She attended Auckland University and completed a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Primary, leading to Steiner Education). She has an undergraduate degree (B.F.A.) from Elam in photography, and Early Childhood qualifications specialising in Steiner Education from Taruna and AUT. Her passion for children’s literature grew through attending the Storylines Festivals and book awards. She is currently a Steiner Kindergarten teacher at Michael Park School in Ellerslie.

Helen_Villers_1.JPGHelen 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. 

Melinda Szymanik

Author Melinda Szymanik has been a member of Storylines since 1999 when she joined in order to enter the Tom Fitzgibbon Award. She didn’t win, but greatly encouraged by feedback from judge Jo Noble, she kept writing and her short stories, picture books and novels have been published since 2003. Winner of Children’s Choice in 2009 for picture book The Were-Nana, Librarian’s Choice in 2014 for her junior fiction A Winter’s Day in 1939, and a 2017 White Raven selection for picture book Fuzzy Doodle, she also has numerous award short-listings and notable book awards. Melinda spends her days either writing, or talking about writing, and books, with keen writers and readers, both young and old.

Vasanti Unka-619Vasanti Unka

Vasanti has worked in publishing for many years as an Art Director, an Art Editor and more recently as a freelance illustrator and designer. In 2009 she completed a Masters degree in Design. Over the years, Vasanti has won several awards for her illustrations and book designs. Her writing career took off when The Boring Book (2013) was named the New Zealand Post Margaret Mahy Book of the Year for 2014 and won the Best Picture Book award. It also received a White Ravens Award in Germany and was named an IBBY Honour Book by the New Zealand Section of IBBY for the excellence of its illustrations.


The Storylines Trust and Foundation together comprise New Zealand's only national organisation working year-round specifically to promote children's and young adult literature through an annual Festival in six regions, author awards, publications, advocacy and other activities ... 



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