Teachers and school leaders among children’s literature award winners

The annual Storylines Margaret Mahy National Awards Day saw writers of literature for young people acknowledged for their mahi and showcased several new lockdown-birthed works set for the classroom, some written by teachers and principals.

This week, Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa announced the five 2022 winners of its major awards for writers of manuscripts for children’s and young adult books. l.

Held in Auckland on Sunday 3 April, the annual awards showed young adult and children’s literature writing is thriving in Aotearoa. The five winners of the new manuscript awards were selected from 230 entries.

“We are delighted to have received so many entries, and that these entries exhibited such depth and breadth of creativity and talent among New Zealand writers,” commented Storylines chair Christine Young.

“The entries demonstrated real enthusiasm to contribute to the richness and diversity of publications that reflect young people’s lives in 21st century Aotearoa New Zealand.”

The award-winners and shortlists are:

Storylines Tessa Duder Award for a young adult manuscript – The impossible story of Hannah Kemp by Leonie Agnew 
Primary school teacher Leonie Agnew began writing as a child but it was winning the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award in 2010 with her novel Super Finn that provided her breakthrough. This book went on to win multiple prizes in the 2012 New Zealand Post awards.
Since then she has written three more novels, including Conrad Cooper’s Last Stand (winner of the 2015 Esther Glen Medal) and in 2021 The Memory Thief. 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 alongside her role as a primary school teacher in Auckland.

Te Kahurangi Kāterina Te Heikōkō Mataira Award for a manuscript in te reo Māori – Kua Whetūrangitia Tōku Koro by Brianne Te Paa
Brianne Te Paa was born, raised and educated in South Kaipara. Her whakapapa connects her to the mana whenua of the area, Ngāti Whātua, as well as the people of Ngāti Kahu, Ngā Puhi, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Te Aitanga a Mahaki and Te Whanau a Apanui. After graduating from The University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Education, Brianne eventually returned to the Kaipara to teach Te Reo Māori at her former secondary school, where she is now an Assistant Principal. Brianne has always written poetry for her own enjoyment and draws inspiration from her whānau and friends.

Brianne Te Paa

Storylines Joy Cowley Award for a picture book text – Tama and the Taniwha by Melanie Koster

Born on the wild West Coast of the South Island, primary school teacher Melanie was brought up in a book-loving, story-telling family. She lives in Christchurch with her whānau of artists, inventors and tinkerers. A primary school teacher aide, Melanie is the author of two picture books; The Reluctant Little Flower Girl, illustrated by Jenny Cooper, and Milly Maloo and the Miracle Glue, illustrated by Sarah Nelisiwe Anderson. She has been shortlisted six times for the Storylines Joy Cowley Award, published in Flash Frontier and in the Australian publication The School Magazine.

Melanie Koster

Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for a junior fiction manuscript – A Perfect Failure by Feana Tu’akoi

Feana Tu‘akoi is a Kirikiriroa-based writer, with a strong background in educational writing. Her 220 titles include stories, poems, picture books, school readers, plays, chapter books and radio stories, with seven of her nine trade
books for children named in various awards and many translated into several languages. Feana began writing when her four children were pre-schoolers, as she was unable to source books that included Tongan characters, Tongan ideas, or even Tongan legends. She is  the 2022 Massey University Writer in Residence.

Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Special Award for a shortlisted unpublished writer – The Godstick: Tunnels of Arras by Nissa Bearsley 

Storylines Janice Marriott Mentoring Award for an unpublished junior fiction writer – The Boy Who Fell From The Clouds by Samantha Montgomerie

In addition to the manuscript awards, two other major awards were presented:

Storylines Gaelyn Gordon Award for a much-loved book – Sherryl Jordan  for Winter of Fire

Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture Award for lifetime achievement and an outstanding contribution to New Zealand’s literature for young people – Diana Noonan.

The Southland-based author has published more than 100 titles since her debut novel The Silent People in 1990, winning numerous awards for both her fiction and non-fiction. She has a background in teaching and was editor of the School Journal for older readers for eight years. Following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake she wrote the picture book Quaky Cat, illustrated by Gavin Bishop, which raised over $150,000 for the Christchurch earthquake appeal.

Heather Barker Vermeer

Heather has worked as a journalist, writer and editor in England and Aotearoa New Zealand for over 20 years. She fell in love with words when she received a 'Speak & Spell' tech toy for Christmas in 1984.
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