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Te Awhi Rito - New Zealand Reading Ambassador for Children and Young People

Te Awhi Rito RGB-692-340The role of Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Reading Ambassador for children and young people was announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in August 2020. An announcement of the appointment of the first Te Awhi Rito will be made some time in April 2021.
Storylines is one of the founding partners in this initiative to engage more New Zealanders with books and reading


Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Reading Ambassador champions the importance of reading in the lives of young New Zealanders, their whänau, and communities. They are a national reading role model, building visibility and awareness of reading across all sectors in Aotearoa New Zealand and helping to create a nation of readers.

Founding partners

The Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador initiative is led by the National Library in collaboration with founding partners Te Puna Foundation, Creative New Zealand, Storylines and Te Pou Muramura Read NZ. Funding for the role has been provided by Te Puna Foundation for the first three years, though it is anticipated that this will be an enduring programme.

The inaugural Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Reading Ambassador will be appointed part time for two years. The details of the programme they will undertake will be determined by the strengths and interests of Te Awhi Rito, working with the partner group, which will provide support to the successful appointee.

Appointment to the position is by nomination. A selection panel of up to eight people, including representatives of the founding partner group, will make the final decision.

More detail is on the web page.

The establishment of a high-profile national voice for reading and literacy is something Storylines has worked for and dreamed of for many years. We are delighted to be working with National Library, Te Puna Foundation, Creative New Zealand and Te Pou Muramura Read NZ to bring the dream to reality in 2021.



The name Te Awhi Rito comes from the harakeke or flax plant. The 'rito' is the young shoot at the centre of the plant, and ‘awhi rito’ are the strong mature leaves that stand straight and tall to surround, protect and nurture the rito. Outside te awhi rito are the 'tupuna' or older leaves that bend towards the ground, supporting the entire harakeke bush and eventually becoming part of the fertile ground beneath. The harakeke is sometimes used as a metaphor for the generations in a family with te Awhi Rito as parents, connecting the young people or rito in the centre of the bush to their grandparents or tūpuna. Te Awhi Rito represents this role in nurturing and inspiring the rito who are the young readers and new readers. The tūpuna represent the many organisations, authors, teachers, libraries and other advocates for reading in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Over time, each Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Reading Ambassador will add their mana and mahi to strengthen the whole harakeke or He Pā Rito.




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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