Judges announced for 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults

An esteemed academic, a noted author, an experienced bookseller, a school librarian and a public librarian, as well as three respected proponents of te reo and te ao Māori, have been selected to judge entries in the 2021 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Palmerston North school librarian Alan Dingley, who was also a judge in the 2020 awards, will convene the English language panel. He will be joined by senior lecturer in Children’s Literature at the University of Waikato, Nicola Daly; award-winning author and educationalist, Pauline (Vaeluaga) Smith; longtime children’s bookseller, Mary Sangster; and public librarian, composer and performer, Stephen Clothier.

Alan says the wide range of expertise and collective years of experience on the panel is going to make judging the 2021 submissions a thorough and pleasurable exercise. “It’s clear that neither authors nor publishers have been intimidated by the circumstances of this pandemic year, and we’re looking forward to adjudicating an extremely competitive field of entries.”

Current tumuaki/president of Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa (LIANZA) Anahera Morehu, has been appointed by Te Rōpū Whakahau, the national body representing Māori within the library and information profession, to convene the panel judging the Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for books written or translated into te reo Māori. Alongside her will be poutiaki rauemi/national manager Māori for Services to Schools at Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa National Library of New Zealand, Ruki Tobin, and library manager at the University of Canterbury, Te Paea Paringatai.

Anahera points to the upcoming International Decade of Indigenous Languages (from 2022) and the increasing number of books being published in te reo as an opportune environment in which to participate in the awards. “The future looks exciting for literacy and for encouraging reading in te reo Māori,” she says.

The 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 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 from the six main category winners.

Submissions for the 2021 awards are now open to books published between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021. The first deadline, for books published up to 30 November 2020, is Tuesday 15 December 2020. More details about how to enter can be found here.

Category finalists will be announced on 10 June 2021 and the awards ceremony is due to be held in Wellington on 11 August 2021, 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 and Nielsen Book.

For more information about the 2021 judges, go here.

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