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Expert Team to Judge the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

By November 30, 2015December 2nd, 2015No Comments

NZ Book Awards ChildrensFiona Mackie, Kathy Aloniu and Melinda Szymanik have been appointed as judges of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

The judging team will deliberate over an expected 150 entries in five categories: Picture Book, Illustration, Junior Fiction, Non-fiction and Young Adult Fiction. They will select five finalists, then a winner in each category.

Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau, Lawren Matrix, and Mereana Taungapeau have been appointed as judges for Te Kura Pounamu – the award that recognises and celebrates books written or translated into te reo Māori.

The supreme winner, drawn from the winners of the six categories, will be declared the 2016 Margaret Mahy Book of the Year.

Between them the judges have huge experience of reading, enjoying and working with books for children and young adults.

“The New Zealand Book Awards Trust is delighted to have such excellent judges for the 2016 awards,” says its chair Nicola Legat. “These judges stand out as having remarkable experience and expertise across many aspects of children’s literature.”

The finalist authors in the awards will embark upon a nationwide author tour, in the week prior to the awards being announced at a ceremony to be held in Wellington in August.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults is sponsored by Creative New Zealand, Hell Pizza, Book Tokens Ltd and Copyright Licensing Limited New Zealand (CLLNZ). They are also supported by the Fernyhough Education Foundation and Nielsen Bookdata. The awards are administered for the New Zealand Book Awards Trust by the New Zealand Book Council.

To find out more about the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, please visit


For further information please contact:

Nicola Legat
New Zealand Book Awards Trust
ph: 021 958 887


Judges Background Information – Additional information

Convenor of judges Fiona Mackie has 30 years’ experience across the education and libraries sectors, having worked as a teacher, a reference librarian, the Social Sciences Selector and the New Schools Advisor while at the National Library. She is a Past President of SLANZA — the School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa — and is currently the teacher-librarian at Pinehurst College in Auckland.

Riki-Lee Saua (Ngāpuhi, Te Roroa, Tainui) is the Te Kura Pounamu Award Coordinator. Riki-Lee has worked in a number of Māori-specific roles at Auckland Libraries and Massey University Library. Currently she is a Subject Librarian at Manukau Institute of Technology in Otara, Auckland and is also a member of Te Rōpū Whakahau, the professional association for Māori who work in libraries, archives and information services.

Kathy Aloniu’s love of children’s literature comes from a rewarding 14 years spent as Manager of Children’s Services at the Invercargill Public Library. Kathy is currently City Team Leader at Dunedin Public Libraries and is an associate of the Libraries and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA). In 2012 Kathy was part of the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards judging panel.

Melinda Szymanik is a highly regarded writer of children’s fiction. Her books include Jack the Viking, The Were-Nana and A Winter’s Day in 1939. Recipient of the University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer’s Residency in 2014, Melinda recently completed a Diploma in Children’s Literature from the University of Canterbury.

Te Rangi Rangi Tangohau (Te Aitanga ā Hauiti, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Ngāi Tahu, Ngāi Tuhoe) is Principal Librarian Children’s Services at HB Williams Memorial Library, Gisborne. Te Rangi Rangi continues to ‘raise reading levels’ for kura kaupapa Māori children participating in the Kiki Taumata programme. The programme is conducted in te reo Māori and supported by senior students.

Lawren Matrix (Ngāi Tuhoe, Ngāti Koura) is the Children’s Librarian at Te Matariki Clendon library in Auckland. Lawren is responsible for the provision of Māori-specific programming, story-time visits and other programmes designed for children and youth on behalf of Auckland Libraries. Lawren has strong connections with Māori and Pasifika community groups in the Clendon and the wider Auckland area.

Mereana Taungapeau (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Wai) is Heritage Programme Adviser, Māori, at the Alexander Turnbull Library. Mereana is involved in a number of outreach programmes responsible for connecting Māori children, youth and adults to library collections. Mereana has wide experience of delivering library outreach programmes for local kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori.