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Judges for 2019 NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults share a passion for the transformative power of books

By November 29, 2018No Comments

A panel of judges combining deep knowledge of the children’s literature community with youthful wisdom and a shared passion for the transformative power of books has been selected to deliberate over entries to the 2019 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Highly respected reviewer and librarian Crissi Blair will convene the English language panel, which will also include poet and co-founding editor of The Sapling Jane Arthur, author and editor Raymond Huber, teacher and award-winning writer Tania Roxborogh, and librarian Simie Simpson, previously a popular children’s publisher sales manager.

Te Rōpū Whakahau, the national body representing Māori within the library and information profession, has reappointed the experienced panel of Moana Munro (convenor), Anahera Morehu and Jacqueline Joyce Snee to judge the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award, which recognises and celebrates books written or translated into te reo Māori.

The English language judges will read and appraise an expected 150 or so entries in five categories: Picture Book, Junior Fiction (the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award), Young Adult Fiction, Non-fiction (the Elsie Locke Award) and Illustration (the Russell Clark Award). They will select five finalists in each category, as well as up to five finalists for a Best First Book Award and then a winner in each category. The overall winner, the Margaret Mahy Award for Book of the Year, will be decided by both panels.

Also a judge in the 2018 awards, Crissi Blair said she was delighted to have been invited back as the 2019 convener and honoured to be working alongside such an experienced group of passionate children’s literature advocates. “We are fortunate to have a judging panel from diverse backgrounds and many different aspects of the children’s book world. I look forward to combining our skills as we explore this year’s submissions.”

The 2019 judges will once again seek input on each category during their deliberations from school advisory panels. “We found this not only to be an illuminating exercise in terms of what books interest children as opposed to adults, but it also created an opportunity for education in getting the groups to understand the criteria and to look at each book with a critical eye,” says Crissi of the 2018 process.

Submissions for the 2019 awards are now open to books published between 1 April 2018 and 30 March 2019. The first deadline, for books published up to 30 November 2018, is 13 December 2018. More details about how to enter can be found here:

Category finalists will be announced on Thursday 6 June 2019 and the awards ceremony will be held in Wellington in early August 2019, preceded by a series of large-scale finalist author events in at least three centres around New Zealand.

The New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults are made possible through the generosity, commitment and vision of funders and sponsors Creative New Zealand, HELL Pizza, Wright Family Foundation, LIANZA, Wellington City Council, Te Papa and Nielsen Book. They are supported by Booksellers NZ.

For more information about the 2019 judges, see below or go here:

Any queries about the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults should be directed to Awards Administrator Joy Sellen at


Released on behalf of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust by:

Belinda Cooke,, tel: 021 481044.

(Publicist Gemma Finlay of Notable PR will once again run the #NZCYA marketing campaign, from early 2019.)


Convenor of judges Crissi Blair has been writing about children’s books and their makers for nearly 20 years, including seven years for the Book Council’s e-news The School Library, reviews and articles for Magpies magazine, where she is now New Zealand Coordinator, and her own publication New Zealand Children’s Books in Print 2005-2013. She was a member of the 2018 judging panel for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and has a long involvement with Storylines, including three years as festival manager. Crissi has a Bachelor in Design and Visual Arts, with a specialist interest in picture book illustration, and has recently finished studying for library qualifications while working as a librarian at Rangeview Intermediate School in Auckland.

Jane Arthur is an editor and poet who has worked in the book industry for over 15 years, in both bookselling and publishing. She is co-founding editor of The Sapling (, a website about children’s books, which launched in March 2017 and won the 2018 New Zealand Book Industry Special Award. She has a Masters in English Literature, a Masters in Creative Writing and a Diploma in Publishing. Jane won the 2018 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize, and her first poetry collection will be published in 2020. She lives in Wellington with her family.

Raymond Huber is a Dunedin-based children’s author and editor who has written junior novels, picture books, YA non-fiction, school readers and textbooks, many published internationally. He is the University of Otago College of Education/Creative New Zealand Children’s Writer in Residence for 2018. Children’s books have been a vital part of Raymond’s life: reading with his children and grandchildren; in his years teaching at primary schools; reviewing books for newspapers and magazines; studying a Diploma of Children’s Literature; assessing and editing manuscripts.

Tania Roxborogh (Ngāti Porou and Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri) is a veteran educator and an award-winning writer of over thirty published works. She has been a head of two English departments, drama teacher, actor, director, musician, English curriculum developer, short story judge, and writing mentor. Her most recent publications are Bastion Point: 507 Days on Takaparawha, which won the Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction, and two secondary English text books. Her happy places are her classroom, Lincoln High School, and wherever she can snatch time to read – most often books recommended by her students.

Simie Simpson (Te Ati Awa) is a librarian in the Kaipara District north of Auckland. Prior to this she worked for a number of years for Walker Books New Zealand as a sales manager, and as a bookseller before that. Reviewing children’s books and working in a library has allowed her to connect the wider community with the books she is passionate about. She believes in the transformative power of books, and the importance of seeing yourself reflected in the books you read. Simie particularly loves events where people get to meet the ‘rock stars’ some people call writers and illustrators.

Te Kura Pounamu Award convenor for the second year, Moana Munro is kaitiakipukapuka Māori for Hastings District Libraries, delivering services and resources to a growing Māori and Polynesian population in Hawke’s Bay. She’s one of the ngā kaiwhakahau o Te Rōpū Whakahau representing Te Mātau o te Ika rohe (East Coast, Hawke’s Bay to Wairarapa regions). “Being an information provider is extremely rewarding; being entrusted with taonga and participating in tangata experiences, that’s special, that’s incredibly humbling,” she says. “Reading to my mokopuna: priceless.”

A LIANZA Hikuwai regional councillor and kaiāwhina of Te Rōpū Whakahau, Anahera Morehu was a judge for Te Kura Pounamu award in 2017 and 2018. She is part of the team which supports the Mātauranga Māori and Tukua workshops for those working in the information industry.

Jacqueline Joyce Snee (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu) is the poukōkiri rangahau Māori, senior librarian Māori Research at Auckland Central Library. She was a judge for Te Kura Pounamu award in 2018 and in 2017 she was the recipient of the Robyn Hakopa Te Reo Māori award for promoting te reo and tikanga within the library profession. Jacqueline has worked in heritage, academic and public libraries and her library career has centred on improving and protecting access for Māori to information. Prior to her career in libraries she worked at Kohanga Reo. She has a few mokopuna and reads to them often.