Judges and new sponsor announced for 2022 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

Award-winning authors, librarians, a children’s bookseller and reviewer, as well as respected proponents of te reo and te ao Māori, make up the two panels of experts selected to judge entries in the 2022 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Educationalist and author Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith, who was a judge in the 2021 awards, will convene the English language panel in 2022. She is joined by acclaimed author Kyle Mewburn; public librarian Laura Caygill; children’s bookseller, reviewer and author Adele Broadbent; and Poutiaki Rauemi/National Manager Māori for Services to Schools at Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa National Library of New Zealand, Ruki Tobin. Ruki was on Te Kura Pounamu panel in 2021, and for the 2022 awards brings his deep knowledge of te ao Māori and te reo Māori to both judging panels.

The panel judging the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written or translated into te reo Māori for 2022 is convened once again by Anahera Morehu, Tumuaki Tuākana/Immediate Past President of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA). Alongside her is communications specialist Te Amohaere Morehu; Online Content Service and Rauemi Developer – Te Ao Māori at the National Library Horowaitai Roberts-Tuahine; and Ruki Tobin. Te Kura Pounamu panel is appointed by Te Rōpū Whakahau, the national body representing Māori within the library and information profession.

In announcing the 2022 judges, chair of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust Nicola Legat says she is also thrilled to take the opportunity to reveal that the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (NZSA) will become the naming sponsor of the prize for the best first book at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

“NZSA is such a strong advocate for and supporter of authors, so it seems fitting that they should have their name attached to the award that recognises works by previously unpublished authors or illustrators, thereby helping to launch their careers in children’s literature,” she says.

NZSA President Mandy Hager says the society is delighted to be sponsoring the Best First Book prize. “It’s a huge achievement for an emerging children’s writer and/or illustrator to reach this level with their first publication and we hope this award gives them the confidence and support to create more work to enrich Aotearoa’s young people.”

The 2022 judges will read and appraise an expected 160 or so 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 Award for Book of the Year, will be decided from the six main category winners.

Submissions for the 2022 awards are now open to books published between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2022. The first deadline, for books published up to 30 November 2021, is Tuesday 14 December 2021. More details about how to enter can be found here:

Category finalists will be announced on 2 June 2022 and the awards ceremony is due to be held in Wellington in the first part of August 2022, 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, NZSA, Wellington City Council and Nielsen Book.

For more information about the 2022 judges, go to:

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