Before 1997, New Zealand’s national awards for children’s literature were known as the Aim Children’s Book Awards. In 1997, New Zealand Post assumed the sponsorship and the awards became known as the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and later the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. New Zealand Post was the principal sponsor of the awards until 2014.

Since 1945, with the establishment of the Esther Glen Award for Fiction, the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) had also been rewarding excellence in New Zealand children’s literature.

In 2015, the awards entered a new era, with the support of Creative New Zealand and Book Tokens (NZ) Ltd. In 2016, the LIANZA Children’s Book Awards and the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults merged, leading to name changes for some of the categories, the addition of an award for illustration, and a change in the judging format for the Te Kura Pounamu Māori language award. This last award will continue to be judged by Te Rōpū Whakahau.

Since 2016, the vital funding provided to the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults by Creative New Zealand and LIANZA has been strengthened by the added support of sponsors HELL Pizza, Nielsen Book, Wellington City Council and Wright Family Foundation.