The 2023 Margaret Mahy National Awards Day took place on 2 April with an annual ceremony highlighting of the best of children’s literature in Aotearoa. Hosted by Storylines Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki, the awards coincided with International Children’s Book Day and celebrated the wisdom of seasoned writers as well as exciting new manuscripts.
Decorated author James Norcliffe opened the floor as the winner of the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award, New Zealand’s most prestigious award in the field of writing, illustrating and publishing for young people. The day also featured talks from veteran author Joy Cowley ONZ DCNZM OBE and Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Reading Ambassador Ben Brown. Each made an address to the large community of readers, teachers, parents, publishers, authors, illustrators, librarians, and academics gathered at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Education and Social Work.
A book launch for the biennial Storylines Tessa Duder Award (in association with Walker Books Australia) celebrated the newest work of acclaimed writer Leonie Agnew. Her young adult novel The Impossible Story of Hannah Kemp was said to be a powerful exploration of guilt, forgiveness, choice and personal responsibility.
A short ceremony saw the presentations of the Storylines Trust annual awards for original manuscripts in the genres of junior fiction and picture books.
The Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for a junior fiction manuscript (in association with Scholastic NZ) was awarded to Claire Aramakutu. The manuscript Koro’s Star spoke to her tight-knit community in Burnham where, over a mere few blocks, kids of differing ethnicities, nationalities, and family structures come together to play, learn, and create memories.
The Storylines Joy Cowley Award for a picture book manuscript (in association with Scholastic NZ) was awarded to Kristin Kelly of Whangārei for The Squeakling. A humorous picture book that explores family life from a dog’s perspective, Kristin Kelly was able to use her experience both as a teacher and a grandparent to create an original work for classrooms, libraries, and homes.
The Storylines Te Kahurangi Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira Award for a manuscript originally written in te reo Māori (in association with Huia Publishers) was awarded to Hana Tapiata for He aha tērā e rongo nei au?
The Storylines Janice Marriott Mentoring Award for an unpublished author in the category of junior fiction or young adult fiction was awarded to Kate Gallant for her manuscript Aunty Bart’s Vegetable Cart.
In addition, there were two further awards given to new writers: Anne Slight of Whangamatā received the Storylines Joy Cowley Unpublished Writer Award for her picture book manuscript The Mystery of the Missing Cats, and Anna de Roo of Wellington received the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Unpublished Writer Award for her junior fiction manuscript Evangeline and the Librarian.
From left to right: Claire Aramakutu, Kristin Kelly, Hana Tapiata, and Kate Gallant.