Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust of New Zealand | Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa

Storylines Hui 2022 Presentations, workshops & bios

Exciting line-up of presenters at the next Storylines Children's Writers and Illustrators' Hui

The Storylines Hui committee has invited award-winning keynote speakers and workshop leaders from around the country, and developed an exciting programme of keynote addresses, presentations, workshops and panel discussions to be held over three days from 15-17 July.

The information below provides details of all speakers and the presentations/workshops they are presenting.

Friday 15 July, 1pm

Keynote: Mandy Hager, Our magical creative brains

When we tap into the power of our creative brain and let it lead the way, magic occurs.

Mandy Hager is a multi-award-winning writer of fiction for young adults. In 2019 she was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal for life-time achievement and distinguished contribution to New Zealand’s literature for young people. She has won the LIANZA Book Awards for Young Adult fiction three times, the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards for YA fiction, an Honour Award in the 1996 AIM Children’s Book Awards, a Golden Wings Excellence Award, a Golden Wings Award and six Storylines Notable Book Awards. Other awards include the 2012 Beatson Fellowship, the 2014 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship and the 2015 Waikato University Writer in Residence. In 2015 her novel Singing Home the Whale was named the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year and the Best YA Fiction Award from the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. It was also named a 2016 IBBY Honour Book. In 2017 her historical novel for adults, Heloise, published by Penguin New Zealand, was longlisted for the 2018 Ockham Book Awards.

Mandy is a trained teacher, with an Advanced Diploma in Fine Arts from Whitireia and an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University. She also writes short stories, non-fiction, educational resources, blogs and articles, and tutored the Novel course for Whitireia’s Creative Writing Programme. She is currently the President of the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc.

Friday 15 July, 2pm

Presentation: Kat Quin, The importance of marketing for the ongoing success of a publication

Kat Quin (formerly Merewether) lives in Hamilton. A self-employed graphic designer, she began in 2002 with illustration projects for Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and other programmes. In 2014, working from her award-winning educational design studio, Design on Q, she set up her publishing imprint, Illustrated Publishing. Since her first title, Kuwi’s First Egg, she has published around 20 books. In 2016 Te Huia Tuatahi a Kuwi (Kuwi’s First Egg) was the Children’s Choice Award Te Reo Māori at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Her large-format best-seller Kuwi & Friends Māori Picture Dictionary won the Edify Award for Best Educational Book or Series at the 2021 PANZ Book Design Awards, and was a Storylines Notable Non-fiction Book and a finalist for the New Zealand Children’s and Young Adult Non-fiction award. The Boy Who Could See Only Purple was published in Phoenix, Arizona, and was endorsed by the Milton H. Ericson Foundation.  On her school visits, she talks about books and kiwi conservation; her bestselling series, Kuwi the Kiwi, has raised over $5500 for Kiwi for Kiwis, helping with kiwi conservation projects throughout New Zealand.

Friday 15 July, 3.30pm


Ruth Paul: How not to write a picture book

Ruth is a master of the art of avoiding the hard task of writing. This workshop will help you wrestle your beautiful idea out of the clouds and into words. We will cover sense, routine, story arc, structure, pacing, voice and vision.

Ruth Paul lives on a small farm just outside Wellington. She holds a BA from Victoria University, a Diploma in Visual Communication Design, and is working towards a law degree. From 2004, she has created more than 24 children’s picture books, including Stomp!, Bad Dog Flash, The King’s Bubbles and the Little Hector series. I Am Jellyfish won Best Picture Book at the New Zealand Children’s and Young Adult Awards in 2018. In 2019 Ruth received the prestigious Arts Foundation of New Zealand Mallinson Rendel Award for book illustration. Her books are sold in Australia, North America, UK, China and Korea, and her latest book, Lion Guards the Cake, will published in March 2022 by Scholastic NZ.​


Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith & Heather Haylock: Publishing my first book – what I’ve learned!

A workshop on picture books and chapter books for new authors and illustrators – coming up with an idea, crafting it into a manuscript and what to do with it then.

Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith is an author and an educationalist of Samoan, Tuvaluan, Scottish and Irish heritage. She trained as a teacher in Dunedin, later gaining a B.Ed. and lecturing at the University of Otago. ​ Currently, Pauline is the director of the Murihiku Māori and Pasifika Cultural Trust, based in Invercargill. Her first book My New Zealand Story: Dawn Raid, published in 2018, was a finalist at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults in the Esther Glen Junior Fiction category, and won the Best First Book prize. Pauline was the keynote speaker at the Southland, Dan Davin Literary Foundation awards ceremony in 2018, and presented at Dunedin’s Ignition Children’s Writing Festival in 2019.

Heather Haylock grew up in Rotorua and gained a Master of Social Sciences from the University of Waikato, majoring in geography and specialising in natural hazards and disasters. She has worked as a resource management planner and more recently as a teacher aide in South Auckland schools. She currently lives in Auckland with her family. Her manuscript Granny McFlitter the Champion Knitter was ​a finalist for the 2018 New ZealandZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and chosen as the text for the 2017 Storylines Gavin Bishop Award, illustrated by the winner, Lael Chisholm.  ​Her third in this series is due out by Christmas, 2022.


Giselle Clarkson: The power of illustration

Discussing the blurry line between comics and picture books, and telling stories without words.

Giselle Clarkson studied for a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury, majoring in photography. She began illustrating posters of New Zealand fishes and birds, leading to work for Forest and Bird’s children’s magazine, the School Journal, websites and other media. Her first published comic, The Flood, appeared in the 2016 collection of Aotearoa women’s comics, followed by illustrations for World of Butterflies by Courtney Sina Meredith, Hazel and the Snails by Nan Blanchard, An Illustrated Cookbook by Alexandra Tylee, and The Gobbledegook Book: A Joy Cowley Anthology. In 2021 with writer Alexandra Tylee she won the New Zealand Children and Young Adult Book Awards Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction with Egg & Spoon: An Illustrated Cookbook


Whiti Hereaka: Creating an authentic voice in both text and dialogue​.

Whiti Hereaka (Tūwharetoa, Te Arawa) is a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. A barrister and solicitor, she currently works for the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. In 2002 Whiti completed a Masters in Creative Writing (Scriptwriting) at the International Institute of Modern Letters. Her second novel, Bugs, for young adult readers, was published by Huia in 2013, winning the Honour Award, Young Adult Fiction 2014 in the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults and was a Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction book winner. Her third novel, Legacy, was judged Best Young Adult Fiction at the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.  She has held residencies at Auckland’s Michael King Writers’ Centre, the Te Papa Tupu Writers’ Programme in Wellington, and attended the 2013 International Writing Programme at the University of Iowa. Currently, she is working on a novel based on the story of Hatupatu and the birdwoman.

Saturday 16 July, 9am

Keynote: Ben Brown, Te Pūtahitanga. This is the convergence

– a moment of union, connection and intermingling, the outflow of which yields more than the sum of its parts. As creatives we strive for Te Pūtahitanga.

Ben Brown (Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Koroki, Ngāti Paoa) is an award-winning children’s author, poet, short story and non-fiction writer who was appointed in 2021 as New Zealand’s first Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Reading Ambassador for Children and Young People. In this two-year role he will ‘advocate for and champion the importance of reading in the lives of young New Zealanders, their whānau, and communities, building visibility and awareness of reading across all sectors in Aotearoa New Zealand, helping to create a nation of readers’. Born in Motueka, he has been a tobacco farm labourer, tractor driver and market gardener. Since 1992, he has been a publisher and writer, collaborating with illustrator Helen Taylor, in most of his 17 publications, many with a strong New Zealand nature background. A Booming in the Night won Best Picture Book at the 2006 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and was judged a Storylines Notable Picture Book. In 2011 he was awarded the Māori Writer’s Residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre in Auckland.

In 2020 he presented the annual Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Pānui (lecture), If Nobody Listens Then No One Will Know, receiving widespread acclaim. In early 2020, he taught a writing workshop at Te Puna Wai ō Tuhinapo, the Oranga Tamariki Youth Justice Residence facility near Christchurch. The workshop was part of Writers in Youth Justice, a Read NZ Te Pou Muramura Writers in Communities programme. This workshop resulted in Ben’s editing an anthology of poetry by the YPs (young people) who took part, titled How the F* Did I Get Here?’

Saturday 16 July, 10.30am


Kyle Mewburn: Picture Books: words that paint 1000 pictures

This workshop will explore methods and processes to help you turn concrete prose into works of art.

Kyle Mewburn was born in Brisbane and holds a Bachelor of Business degree from the Queensland Institute of Technology. She travelled widely across Europe and the Middle East before settling in Central Otago in 1990, working at a wide variety of jobs. Her career as a children’s writer took off when she won the Storylines Joy Cowley Award in 2005 for a picture book text. Subsequently published as Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! her story went on to win both Picture Book and Children’s Choice Awards at the 2007 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and the USA-based Flicker Tale Children’s Book Award. Among her other picture books, several named as Storylines Notable Books, is Old Hu-Hu which, with its te reo translation, Hu-hu Koroheke, won the supreme award at the 2010 New Zealand Post Book Awards. Recent works include chapter books for emerging readers and educational titles for Oxford University Press.​​ In 2011, Kyle Mewburn was the Creative NZ writer-in-residence at the Otago University College of Education, and she served as President of the New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN Inc) from 2013-17. In 2021 her memoir, Faking It: My life in transition, was published by Penguin.  Kyle is serving as a judge for the 2022 New Zealand Children’s and Young Adult Book awards.


Tom E Moffatt: Self-publishing

An overview of the ever-changing self-publishing landscape, the challenges specific to New Zealand children’s authors and the mindset required to succeed.

Tom E. Moffatt, originally from Uxbridge, London, trained as a primary school teacher and taught in Japan, Italy, the United Arab Republic and Colombia before making his home in Rotorua where he lives with his wife and three daughters. His debut novel, Barking Mad, won the 2015 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award and was a 2017 Storylines Notable Junior Fiction book. He has since released two collections of Bonkers Short Stories. Among his eight books successfully self-published is You’re Joking: Become an Expert Joke-Teller, a finalist in the 2021 New Zealand Children’s and Young AdultBook Awards and named as a Storylines Notable Non-fiction Book. ​


Mary-anne ScottWe Need to Talk.

A workshop that delves into the most important component of a successful children’s book — the dialogue.

After leaving school, Mary-anne Scott studied cello and classical guitar. Music was her main creative outlet as she raised her four sons but when said boys were teenagers she started writing young adult fiction, partly to help make sense of the chaos. Six grandchildren, six novels and many years later, writing children’s stories and encouraging children to be lifetime readers are two of the things she is most passionate about.

Her first book, Snakes and Ladders was a finalist in the New Zealand Children’s Book Awards and the LIANZA awards and went on to win the teenage choice award for 2012. Coming home to Roost was a finalist in the New Zealand Children’s BookAwards and was awarded a Storylines Notable Book award. Sticking with Pigs was also awarded a Storylines Notable Book award and was a finalist in the New Zealand Children’s book awards and the New Zealand mountain fiction award. Spearo was awarded a Storylines Notable book award and her most recent novel, The Tomo, is a finalist in the upcoming children’s book awards.


Ant Sang: Designing distinctive and unique characters for picture books and comics

A hands-on workshop, where participants will design a character (or characters) and explore ways to draw them consistently, in a variety of poses and from different angles.

Ant Sang is fifth generation Chinese brought up in New Zealand and Hong Kong. He studied graphic design at Auckland Institute of Technology (now AUT). In the mid-’90s he began creating comics, becoming one of New Zealand’s most successful graphic novelists. Working from his Auckland studio, he has published in the USA, UK, France, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, dividing his time between comic and film (screenwriting) projects. His graphic novel Shaolin Burning was shortlisted for the 2021 Picture Book award at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, the first graphic novel to be nominated, and he created the artwork for the award-winning animated show Bro’ Town. Besides visiting New Zealand schools, he has appeared at literary festivals in Canada, Taipei and China, and has also exhibited work in Auckland, Taipei, Germany, Italy and China.

Saturday 16 July, 2pm


Elena de Roo: Playing it by ear: writing poetry for children

Is it a picture book or is it a poem? To rhyme or not to rhyme? Where can I send my poem? We’ll delve into these and other crafty questions.

Elena de Roo was born in Hamilton and had her first poem published in the local paper when only three. She holds a degree in English from the University of Auckland and has worked as a librarian. She began writing for children in 2004 with stories, poems, plays and readers published in New Zealand, Australia and USA. Her picture book The Rain Train was accepted by Walker Books Australia and judged a Storylines Notable Picture Book in 2011. She has won poetry competitions in Auckland and Manawatu, and in 2019 won the Todd New Writers’ Bursary towards a collection of children’s poems. In 2018 she completed a Master of Creative Writing at AUT, and in 2020 she was the University of Otago College of Education Children’s Writer-in-Residence. Her poems have appeared in online blogs and anthologies such as A Treasury of New Zealand Poems for Children and Summer Days: Stories and Poems Celebrating the Kiwi Summer. She is one of the authors of the children’s writing online competition FABO Story.


Philippa Werry: Creative non-fiction

What is it, where did it come from and how can you write it? Make your writing more vivid by incorporating elements of fiction while still presenting the facts in an informative and accurate way.

Philippa Werry was born in Christchurch and from a young age wanted to be a writer. She studied English and Greek at university, and after travelling, trained and worked as a librarian. Stories for the School Journal were followed by chapter books, novels and non-fiction books, many based on her particular interest in New Zealand history, with several winning Storylines Notable Book awards. Anzac Day: The New Zealand Story was shortlisted for the 2014 New Zealand Post Book Awards non-fiction section for Children and Young Adults, the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards, and was judged as a Storylines Notable Non-fiction Book. She won the Jack Lasenby Award in 2006, the New Zealand Society of Authors Mid-Career Writers Award in 2010, and in 2019 the Michael King Writers’ residency in Auckland. She was shortlisted for the Text Publishing Prize and three times for the Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Prize in Creative Science Writing. A frequent speaker in schools and at literary festivals, Philippa served for 13 years on the Wellington committee of New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa PEN NZ and on the NZSA board for six years, including one as Vice-President.

Philippa Werry


James George: Utilising focalisation: ways to draw readers into characters and their story worlds

An interactive workshop designed to hone your abilities to make characters and their story worlds compelling via the symbiotic technical facets within focalisation: point of view and voice. How do our strategies in these areas work to inform and immerse your readers?

James George, of Ngāpuhi, English and Irish descent, is a novelist, short story writer and academic. From his first published novel in 2000, he has won an impressive array of awards. Zeta Orionis won the premiere award in the 2001 Māori Literature Awards, while Hummingbird was a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards 2004 and a finalist for the 2005 Tasmania Pacific Fiction Price. James’ novel, Ocean Roads, was shortlisted for the 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize as one of the Best Books in the South-east Asia and South Pacific region. It was also shortlisted in the fiction category of the 2007 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. That year he was also the Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellow. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies such as Second Violins, The Best of New Zealand Fiction (twice), and Get on the Waka – Best Recent Māori Fiction. He teaches creative writing at AUT in Auckland, on both the BA and Master of Creative Writing programmes.


Zak Waipara: Words and Pictures

Insights into the world of visual communication.

Zak Waipara studied visual communication at Unitec and re reo Māori and digital design at AUT. He has worked as a graphic artist forThe New Zealand Herald and was Head of Animation Department at Animation College. Currently he is lecturing in digital media at AUT while continuing to freelance in illustration, graphic design, animation and motion graphics, including seven seasons on the children’s TV show Miharo. His books include Ngā Whetū Matariki I Whānkotia (The Stolen Stars of Matariki) and Maui – Sun Catcher. Zac created the design and artwork of the poster, sent to 70 member countries, when Storylines IBBY New Zealand Section hosted the 2007 International Children’s Book Day. In 2014 he graduated with first class honours in Master of Art and Design. Zac has appeared at books festivals in Indonesia and New Zealand and is a regular school visitor.

Sunday 17 July, 9am

Keynote: Vasanti Unka, When curiosity and imagination meet in the dark, a light ignites

Illustrating picture books is a process of deciphering text and visualisng story in order to portray messages and themes present in the text.

Vasanti Unka, Auckland-based winner of the 2021 Arts Foundation Mallinson Rendel Laureate Award for illustration, is a multi-award-winning writer, illustrator and graphic designer involved in the book and magazine industry for many years. She trained as a graphic designer and later studied for a master’s degree in Design. In 2014 her large format picture book The Boring Book won the New Zealand Post Award for Best Picture Book and was also judged the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year. Internationally, it was selected as both a White Raven book and an IBBY Honour Book. Her illustrations for Hill & Hole won the LIANZA Russell Clark Award and it was also the first children’s book to win the Gerard Reid Award for Best Book at the PANZ Book Design Awards. As well as her 16 picture books, she compiled the anthology With a Suitcase of Saris: From India To Aotearoa: Stories of Pioneer Indian Women, featuring the family stories of some of the first Indian women to emigrate to New Zealand.  

In 2021, I am the Universe was shortlisted for the NZ Book Awards Russell Clark Award for Illustration. It went on to win the New Zealand Society of Authors Heritage Literary Award, the New Zealand Booklovers Award for Best Children’s Book, the PANZ Book Design Awards Best Children’s Book and was a finalist in the Best Typography category.  

In 2015 she appeared at the Bookaroo Children’s Literature Festival in New Delhi, Goa and Pune and in 2017 she also took part in the Bookaroo Festival in Malaysia.  She is a regular visitor to schools with Read NZ and Storylines.

Vasanti Unka


Melinda Szymanik: Making the switch or moving up a gear

A picture book writing masterclass. Build and refine your structural editing skills; grow your narrative voice; understand how to think like an editor.

Melinda Szymanik published her first picture book in 2006, followed by a regular output of picture books and novels, many named as Storylines Notable Books. The Were-Nana won the Children’s Choice Award in the picture book category of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in 2009 and was a Sakura Medal finalist in 2010, while A Winter’s Day in 1939 was a finalist for the Esther Glen Medal for Junior Fiction at the 2014 LIANZA Awards and for the Librarians’ Choice Award. Fuzzy Doodle was selected in 2017 for Germany’s White Raven list. Melinda holds a Master of Science in Zoology from the University of Auckland, a Diploma in Business Studies, Bachelor of Arts in English from Massey University and a Diploma in Children’s Literature from the University of Canterbury. She was the 2014 University of Otago College of Education Children’s Writer in Residence, and served as a judge for the 2016 New Zealand Children’s and Young Adults book awards.


Toby Morris: Drawing from life – creating illustrations, stories and comics.

The fine art of condensing the complexity of real life into concise storytelling.

Toby Morris is an Auckland-based cartoonist, illustrator and writer best known for non-fiction comics investigating political and social issues. He has written and illustrated several children’s books and three graphic novels, including Capsicum, Capsi GoThe Day The Costumes StuckDon’t Puke On Your Dad and in 2019 the graphic novel Te Tiriti o Waitangi. He is a regular contributor to The Spinoff, and is a four-time winner of ‘Best Artwork/Graphics’ at the New Zealand media awards, and ‘Cartoonist of the Year’ winner for 2019 and 2020. Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic he has collaborated with Dr Siouxsie Wiles with graphics that have been viewed world-wide,  and is now producing graphics and animated videos for the World Health Organisation.


Mandy Hager: Six of the best – techniques to supercharge your writing

Participants come along with a work in progress and apply the teaching through in-class revision. 

Mandy Hager writes fiction and non-fiction, mainly for a YA audience. In 2019 she received the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, for life-time achievement and distinguished contribution to New Zealand’s literature for young people. (See full profile above.)



Sandra Morris: Tips and tricks for attracting publishers and agencies

What are publishers looking for and what is currently out there in the children’s publishing world? How competitive is it? Participants and I can give feedback on and discuss any new illustrator’s portfolios during this group session.

Sandra Morris graduated from Elam Art School in 1975 and gained her Masters in Fine Arts in 1990. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Plant and Wildlife Illustration from the University of Newcastle, Australia. Her first picture book One Lonely Kakapo won the LIANZA Russell Clark Award for illustration in 1992, with the second, Discovering New Zealand Birds also shortlisted. Her 2016 book Welcome to New Zealand – a nature journal has won three American awards. Sandra has worked as art editor and illustrator for the School Journal and Shortland Publications and also taught at Massey University and Continuing Education courses in Auckland and Whanganui. Her most recent book, North and South: the story of two hemispheres, was shortlisted for the New Zealand Children’s and Young Adult awards for non-fiction and also named a Storylines Notable Non-fiction Book. After attending the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, she set up her own illustration agency in 2003, promoting New Zealand illustrators overseas, and currently representing some 60 leading artists.

Sunday 17 July, 1pm


 Juliette MacIver: School Visits

Tips from an experienced and popular visiting author.

Juliette MacIver lives near Wellington. She published her first picture book in 2010 and now has 18 picture books with Kiwi and Australian publishers. Four have been named Storylines Notable Books, with six short-listed for other top awards in New Zealand and Australia. She holds a BA in Linguistics and a Diploma in teaching English as a second language. Her books are published in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the UK and the USA, and she has had five titles translated into Mandarin. Most recently, Yak and Gnu  was released to critical acclaim in the USA.

In 2017, That’s Not a Hippopotamus won Best Picture Book at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

In 2019 she appeared with Ruth Paul at the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival. Juliette is a regular and popular visitor to New Zealand schools with Read NZ and Storylines.


Jacqueline Harvey: Writing a successful series for children

Jacqueline Harvey discusses the writing process, from finding the best ideas, creating characters children will want to spend time with and how research plays a key role.

Jacqueline Harvey has written over 50 books for children including the award-winning and best-selling Alice-Miranda, Clementine Rose and Kensy and Max series. In 2012 she moved away from a 20-year teaching career to become a full-time writer and one of Australia’s most popular authors. The Alice-Miranda series has been published in the USA, UK, Indonesia, Turkey, Brazil, Hungary, Germany, Portugal and Russia; has been shortlisted for numerous children’s book awards in Australia including both industry and children’s choice; and featured as audio books and animated feature films. The Clementine Rose series for younger readers achieved similar success, while her latest series, Kensy and Max: Breaking News, was released in 2018 to great excitement and is constantly on bestseller charts. In 2020 Jacqueline became an ambassador for the Australia Reads programme. An enthusiastic school visitor, she lives in Sydney and Queenstown and is currently working on more Alice-Miranda and Kensy and Max adventures.


Donovan Bixley: Undercover secrets: Illustration and design can be great bedfellows or an utter mess

Donovan Bixley shares his experiences and some of the secrets he has learnt making illustrations and design work together under the covers. 

Donovan Bixley was born in Perth, Australia, but grew up in the central North Island and now lives in Taupō. His early talent for drawing, especially comic strips, was developed at AUT’s School of Art and Design. With his wife, he started Magma Design, producing storyboards for TV commercials and editorial illustrations for The Listener. Since his first book in 2002, he has illustrated more than 120 books, been published in 31 countries and translated into 19 languages, and won awards in New Zealand, France and Germany for writing, illustration and design.  In 2014 The Three Bears Sort Of won the Overall Children’s Choice at the New Zealand Post Book Awards, also the Children’s Choice at the West Australian Young Readers Book Awards. His innovative hybrid part-novel, part-comic Monkey Boy won the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Junior Fiction, while Much Ado About Shakespeare won the Russell Clark Illustration Award at the 2016 awards. In 2017 he received the New Zealand Arts Foundation Mallinson Rendel Laureate Award and in 2021 Donovan was named ONZM in the New Year’s Honours list for services to children’s literature.

Panel Discussions:

Friday 15 July, 5pm

First book success

Chaired by Rosemary Tisdall.


Weng Wai Chan was born and grew up in Singapore, attending an English-speaking girls’ school there. She also speaks conversational Cantonese and Mandarin. Her childhood and family experiences formed the basis of her first children’s novel Lizard’s Tale, an action-packed adventure set in Singapore as the Japanese invasion of the island looms. Mentored by Janice Marriott, she won the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction at the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Lizard’s Tale was also shortlisted for the Best First Book award and named a Storylines Notable Junior Fiction Book, while its cover was also shortlisted for Best Designed Children’s Fiction Cover in the 2020 Australian Book Design Awards. Before starting her writing career, Weng Wai graduated from the University of Auckland with a medical degree (MB, ChB) and a Diploma in Paediatrics. She worked as a GP until 2002, when she left formal work to raise her three children. She visits schools with Read NZ and Storylines, and is active in her local school and church communities. In 2017 Weng Wai became chair of the Auckland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors.

 Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith  – see profile above

Leonie Agnew is an award-winning children’s writer and primary school teacher. Her first novel Super Finn won the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award in 2010 and went on to win the Junior Fiction and Best New Author prizes at the 2012 New Zealand Post Awards. She has won a variety of awards for various books including the Esther Glen medal for Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand. She has appeared at literary festivals, such as the Auckland Writer’s Festival, and was awarded The University of Otago College of Education/Creative NZ Children’s Writer in Residence. Her latest book, The Memory Thie, was a 2021 Storylines Notable Book. 

 Tom E. Moffat – see profile above

Saturday 16 July, 1pm

The role of an illustrator and what they do

Chaired by Fifi Colston.

Panellists Vasanti Unka, Donovan Bixley and Ruth Paul (– see profiles above).

Saturday 16 July, 3.30pm

Publishers’ panel

Chaired by Tessa Duder.

Panellists from Scholastic NZ, Penguin Random House, and OneTree House

Sunday 17 July, 2.30pm

 Aotearoa on the Page

Chaired by Helen Villers.

Panellists Mandy Hager,  Ant Sang, Zak Waipara and Tania Roxborogh (– see profiles above) discuss showcasing our unique place in the world in terms of characters and settings.

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