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Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award Winners


Julia Marshall: 2021 Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal winner


Julia Marshall was the 2021 Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal winner for lifetime achievement and distinguished contribution to New Zealand children’s literature, and was presented with her medal and delivered the 2021 Storylines Margaret Mahy lecture on 28 March at Storylines’ national awards ceremony in Auckland.

Julia has been described as “a truly innovative and fearless publisher [whose] standards of excellence never waver”. She has a record of being innovative and brave – no more so than when starting Gecko Press in 2005 after she discovered that Ulf Stark’s classic Can You Whistle, Johanna? had been translated into 20 languages but not English.

She began by selecting other quality titles previously unpublished in English, and has continued her approach to publishing quality literature for young people over the last 16 years. More recently, she began publishing titles as te reo Māori editions.

She has published numerous books selected for “Best of” lists, including in 2020, The House of Madame M by Clotilde Perrin and Migrants by Issa Watanabe by Kirkus Reviews; Bear Named Bjorn by Delphine Perret in the New York Public Library Best books for Kids 2020; The Gobbledegook Book: A Joy Cowley Anthology by Joy Cowley in the International Youth Library, White Raven selection 2020; and The Mapmakers’ Race by Eirlys Hunter as an IBBY Honour Book in 2020.

Early publishing success for Julia and Gecko Press came in the form of Snake and Lizard by Joy Cowley, illustrated by Gavin Bishop, which won the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year award and the Junior Fiction award in 2008. Snake and Lizard was the first original New Zealand title from Gecko Press, then described as a “new, boutique independent publisher”. It is now more likely to be described as a global publishing business.

In a recent blog post Julia says, “There is a tendency in English-speaking countries to think that early childhood is a place of innocence, and that we should protect our children and avoid strong emotion and fear. We choose soft, friendly bears over wolves. We choose quick rhymes and sweet, smiling faces.

“But children also love another kind of book…, ones that produce the frisson of fear, like the deliciousness of being tickled within an inch of too much. And children too enjoy deciding for themselves what to think, what might have happened, who was right or wrong.

“For Gecko Press, story is at the heart of what we publish and we choose books where the problems and resolutions unfold without the reader being aware they are learning about the world, and people in it, good and bad. It is the old adage of show, not tell.”

In addition to making Gecko Press a publishing success story, Julia is also strongly supportive of local writers and the New Zealand children’s literature community. Over the past two years Julia has been President of the Publishers Association of New Zealand, and one of the PANZ/NZSA/CNZLA Copyright Working Group set up to protect the rights of writers and illustrators of Aotearoa.

Read more about Julia and Gecko Press.
Read Julia's Storylines Margaret Mahy lecture here.
Julia Marshall-792Julia Marshall, publisher at Gecko Press

2020 Margaret Mahy Medal winner: Maria Gill


Multi-award-winning non-fiction author Maria Gill is the winner of the 2020 Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for life-time achievement and a distinguished contribution to New Zealand’s literature for young people.

We were unable to present Maria with her medal, and Maria was unable to present her Storylines Margaret Mahy Lecture as planned on 5 April due to the Covid19 lock-down. We are planning an alternate event as soon as that is possible. Maria will then receive her medal and present her lecture. The lecture will then be available on in print and video format on the website.

Maria  is a superbly worthy recipient of the award. She has written more than 60 books and her impressive list of awards highlights the exceptional quality ofher work. She has always supported other writers, been driven to boost a love for reading and writing among children and adults and worked tirelessly in the world of children's literature. She is recognised in New Zealand and in Australia for her publications and teaching; she has been regarded for the past decade and a half as one who “puts words into action, pushes up the shirt sleeves and gets into the work” kind of person for the writing, reading, and children’s education communities. She is highly regarded and admired among fellow writers for the worthiness of the work she produces for children, and her quiet determination to use her talents and gifts to enhance the lives of others – especially children of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Maria presents the 2020 Margaret Mahy Lecture online on 6 September after the cancellation of the Storylines Margaret Mahy National Awards Day due to Covid-19.
Watch her lecture here, or read her lecture here.

Read Maria's profile on our website.

Maria Gill-818Maria Gill will be presented with her medal, and present the 2020 Storylines Margaret Mahy lecture on 5 April

2019 Margaret Mahy Medal winner: Mandy Hagar


Multi-award-winning Wellington-based author Mandy Hager was the winner of the 2019 Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal.

Best-known as a writer of young adult fiction, Mandy  has also written fiction and non-fiction for younger children, as well as film scripts and educational programmes. In 2017 she published her first adult novel, Heloise, long-listed for New Zealand’s premier adult Ockham Book Awards.

From the publication in 1995 of Tom’s Story for Mallinson Rendel, and for nearly every work of fiction since, Mandy Hager has achieved the unusual feat of winning a major award or being shortlisted. She has also been extensively published by major US publishers.

Read more about Mandy here, or on her website, Facebook or Twitter pages. 
Mandy also has a Facebook page for the
Blood of the Lamb trilogy

Read the full news release about Mandy’s award here.

Karyn Hay interviewed Mandy on RNZ National the day her award was announced. 
You can find the interview here. (There’s no direct link so you may need to search for it, about 30 minutes into Karyn’s programme.)

Margaret Mahy medal winner Mandy Hager with Bridget Mahy IMG 3702 -804-566
Mandy Hagar was presented with her medal by Bridget Mahy after the presentation of the 2019 Stortylines Margarte Mahy Medal in April 2019

2018 Margaret Mahy Medal winner: Janice Marriott


Children’s author, screenwriter, mentor, audio producer, editor and teacher, Janice Marriott, was awarded the 2018 Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for lifetime achievement and her distinguished contribution to New Zealand’s children’s literature at the annual Storylines Margaret Mahy Awards Day on 8 April. Her Margaret Mahy Medal was presented by Prime Minister and Minster for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Jacinda Ardern.

Janice then presented the Margaret Mahy lecture, a beautifully crafted analysis of the rungs on the literacy ladder, and how adults can enrich children's experiences at home and at school through sharing words and stories.

In welcoming Janice to the podium, Storylines trustee Tessa Duder said: "
With experience in broadcasting, teaching and librarianship, Janice burst onto the New Zealand children’s book scene in 1989 with Letters to Lesley, the first of around 20 children’s books and many ‘school readers.’ Several of her publications have picked up national awards and been honoured as Storylines Notable Books. The gardeners among us will know her as the writer of books and magazine columns on gardening.

"Janice has held literary residences in Dunedin, Auckland and Foxton. For many years her day job was producing audio books for Learning Media, those Kiwi Kidsongs books known in probably every primary and intermediate classroom in the country.

"A lesser-known feature of Janice’s career has been her supportive work of other writers: more than two decades’ experience as a creative writing teacher, judge, manuscript assessor, editor and mentor. This contribution, added to her own body of writing, is this year being acknowledged by the coveted Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal."

You can read the full  text of her lecture, or watch her lecture on video.
Or hear an interview with Janice Marriott on RNZ National.
You can also see the speech presented by Prime Minister and Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage, Jacinda Ardern.
Twice winner of the New Zealand children’s novel of the year, Janice began her publishing career in 1989 with Letters to Lesley and Brain Drain, followed by a steady flow of children’s and YA novels, educational texts, short stories, radio plays and documentaries, scripts for the TV series The Wot Wots, as well as books on gardening for both children and adults. She has held writers’ residences at the Auckland and Dunedin Colleges of Education and judged several major books awards.

Over the past 15 years she has developed a parallel career as a sought-after creative writing tutor and mentor for tertiary institutions, online writing schools and for her own consultancy as editor and manuscript assessor.

Read Janice’s full publishing and professional profile here.


IMG 6083 Jacinda Adern and  Janice Marriott-540-857
Prime Minister and Minister for Arts Culture and Heritage Jacinda Ardern, with Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal winner Janice Marriott
IMG 6090 Janice Marriott-49-392-356
Janice Marriott presents the annual Storylines Margaret Mahy lecture

2017 Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal winner: Des Hunt


Des Hunt, of Coromandel, was the 2017 winner of the prestigious Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for lifetime achievement and a distinguished contribution to New Zealand children’s literature and literacy. Des presented the 2017 Margaret Mahy lecture and received his award at the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and National Awards Day on 2 April.

Read more about Des here
Read his lecture, "Stories Out Loud" here.


Watch the video of his lecture here.
MM Medal Winner 2017 Des Hunt-33-9382-32


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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