Convenor of judges Nicola Daly is an Associate Professor at the University of Waikato, where she is codirector of the Waikato Picturebook Research Unit and teaches courses in children’s literature. Nicola’s research focus is the use of languages in picture books, and she has received several fellowships to pursue this interest, including at the International Youth Library (Munich), and a Fulbright New Zealand Scholar Award at the University of Arizona. She has loved picture books for a very long time, and feels lucky to have been able to follow this passion in her academic career. Nicola was a judge of the 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Daniel Buchanan has worked in bookstores in Ōtepoti for 18 years, and he is currently a book buyer at Paper Plus Dunedin, looking after all categories. Daniel has a particular enthusiasm for comic books and manga, which he reads and collects himself, and sees as the stepping stone to breaking reluctant young readers into reading novels. He also reads fantasy/sci-fi, classics and children’s books, all of which he champions in the shop. Things that can distract him from reading are his cats, gaming, playing drums and guitar, and going to gigs.
Feana Tu‘akoi is a Kirikiriroa-based writer, with a strong background in educational writing. She has over 230 published titles (including books, readers, plays, articles, poetry, creative non-fiction and radio stories) and much of her work centres on Tongan-Pālangi families, like her own. Seven of her nine trade books for children have been named in the junior fiction, non-fiction or picture book categories of various awards, and her work has been translated into several languages. Feana won the 2022 Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award for her soon-to-be published novel, Lopini the Legend, and was the 2022 Massey University Writer in Residence.
Maia Bennett (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) is a secondary school and public librarian in Wānaka. A lifelong library lover and besotted bibliophile, her professional path has traversed information technology, academic research and early childhood education, with all roads leading to librarianship. The constant throughout her careers has been the importance of words and writing. Knowing the vital role of school libraries in fostering literacy and wellbeing, she strives to provide a diverse and inclusive collection of books so students can see themselves and learn about others.
Ruth Paul is an award-winning writer and illustrator of children’s picture books, and a New Zealand Arts Laureate (2019). Her books have been published in New Zealand, Australia, USA, Canada, the UK, China and Korea, with translations into five languages. She has twice won the Picture Book Award at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Ruth is an experienced presenter at both schools and literary events, and takes up the University of Otago College of Education Creative New Zealand Children's Writer in Residence fellowship in 2023. She is also a champion of her local community Mākara, Te Whanganui-a-Tara.
Ko te tuanui o tōku whare, ko te Ranginui e tū nei! Ko te paparahi ko Papatūānuku e takoto nei! Ko ngā maunga whakahī, ngā poutapu rau! Ko Rahiri kei te kōruru! Ko Ruki Tobin tēnei e kōki nei! Tēnā koutou!
Ruki Tobin is the convenor of Te Kura Pounamu Award panel, and was a judge on both the English language and Te Kura Pounamu judging panels in 2022. Ruki is the Kaihautū / Director Ratonga Māori at Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, National Library of New Zealand. He is a raukura of Te Aho Matua and graduated with his Masters in Tikanga from the University of Waikato. He is also a graduate of Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo Māori, the former institute of Te Reo Māori excellence. As Kaihautū, Ruki is working with the National Library leadership team to progress the organisation’s aspirations to meet its Tiriti obligations and embed Te Reo Māori, Tikanga Māori and Te Ao Māori Tirohanga as standard operating practice.
He uri tēnei nō Ngāti Hine, Te Waiariki, Ngāti Korora, Ngāti Porou, nō Te Whānau a Apanui anō hoki.
Mihi Te Rina Henare is the Kaitiaki Pukapuka and Kairangahau Māori at Te Wānanga Takiura o ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa. Mihi Te Rina is a raukura of Te Aho Matua and a kōhanga reo graduate, and she has a Bachelor of Library and Information Studies from Open Polytechnic. Her current role supports students at Te Wānanga Takiura who are undertaking the Rumaki Reo programme as well as the Tohu Paetahi Ako Kura Kaupapa programme. Mihi Te Rina spends most of her spare time reading and reviewing books, and posting or scrolling through bookstagram.
He uri a Te Wairere o Taranaki Tūturu, Ngāruahinerangi, o Te Ātiawa, o Waikato-Maniapoto, o Ngāti Porou, o Ngāti Pikiao, o Ngāti Rongomai, o Ngāti Tarāwhai, o Ngāti Whakaue hoki.
Te Wairere Puāwaitanga O Te Whakaaro Ngaia is a Rotorua-based kaiako of Te Reo Māori and a qualified translator. Her dedication to Te Reo Māori and Tikanga Māori was nurtured though her own total-immersion education, beginning at kōhanga reo, through kura kaupapa Māori, to wharekura. Te Wairere has degrees in Communications and Māori Performing Arts, and a Masters of Management Studies specialising in leadership communication and Te Reo Māori. From a young age she has had a love of literature and the arts, but her biggest passions are her people and her culture.