Judges announced for 2023 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

A varied and experienced panel of judges with a shared belief in the importance and power of books and reading in the lives of young New Zealanders has been appointed to judge entries in the 2023 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Associate professor in children’s literature at the University of Waikato Nicola Daly will convene the English language panel. She will be joined by Ōtepoti bookseller Daniel Buchanan, Kirikiriroa-based writer Feana Tu‘akoi, Wānaka school and public librarian Maia Bennett (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Pikiao, Ngāti Tūwharetoa), and award-winning author and illustrator Ruth Paul from Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Nicola, who was also a judge in the 2021 awards, says she was honoured to be asked to convene the English panel. "There are so many facets to producing excellent children's literature, and our 2023 judges bring a wealth of experience and diverse perspectives with them to the judging process. I am looking forward to exploring and judging the books entered this year with them.”

The panel judging the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written or translated into te reo Māori for 2023 will be convened by Ruki Tobin, who has previous experience on both the English and te reo Māori panels. Ruki is the Kaihautū |Director Ratonga Māori at Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, National Library of New Zealand. Joining him this year is kaitiaki pukapuka Mihi Te Rina Henare from Tāmaki Makaurau, and Rotorua-based kaiako and translator Te Wairere Ngaia.

Ruki says the 2023 panel of kaiwhiriwhiri are from the first generation of graduates of Kohanga Reo, raukura and manu pīrere from Kura Aho Matua and Kura ā Iwi. “Mihi and Te Wairere bring with them expertise in te reo Māori, tikanga Māori and mātauranga Māori that will enhance Te Kura Pounamu Award. I look forward to working with them to ensure the sanctity of the work ahead of us. Nau mai te ao hou, kia kite atu ai au i a koe. We welcome the new world, so we may see what potential lies ahead of us.”

The 2023 judges will read and appraise an expected 160 or more entries in six categories: Picture Book, Junior Fiction (the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award), Young Adult Fiction, Non-Fiction (the Elsie Locke Award), Illustration (the Russell Clark Award) and te reo Māori (the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award). They will select up to five finalists in each category, as well as up to five finalists for the NZSA Best First Book Award, and then a winner in each category. The overall winner, the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year, will be decided by both panels from the six main category winners.

Submissions for the 2023 awards are now open to books published between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023. The first deadline, for books published up to 30 November 2022, is Tuesday 13 December 2022. More details about how to enter can be found here:

Category finalists will be announced on 1 June 2023 and the awards ceremony will be held in Wellington on Thursday 10 August 2023, preceded by a programme of finalist author events under the Books Alive banner.

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, The New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa, and Nielsen BookData.

For more information about the 2023 judges, see:

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