kids vids banner

Bilingual book wins Book of the Year

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share to Google Classroom

For the first time a bilingual book has taken out the top prize at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Te Wehenga: The Separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku by Mat Tait (Ngāti Apa ki te rātō) was tonight presented with the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award, Aotearoa’s highest accolade in children’s literature, during a joyful ceremony held at Wellington’s Pipitea Marae.

Te Wehenga’s bold bilingual design presents the Māori creation pūrākau, which explains the beginning of the world, in a way that incorporates universal elements recognised across iwi. The poetic text, which tells the story simultaneously in te reo Māori and English, is integrated into the artwork, creating an interactive experience that immerses the reader in the darkness of the space between Papatūānuku and Ranginui.

“The way that te reo Māori and te reo Pākehā are brought together closely feels like a metaphorical representation of the increasing bilingualism in Aotearoa,” said convenor of judges Nicola Daly, who praised the book’s highly innovative approach to integrating both languages into the illustrations themselves.

Motueka-based Tait also collected the Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction for the book.

While Te Wehenga is uniquely New Zealand in flavour, many of our writers and illustrators look beyond Aotearoa’s borders, and this year’s category winners show our talented creatives can give a strong local voice to stories that also have relevance and resonance for an international audience.

That includes Duck Goes Meow by Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Carla Martell, which won the Picture Book Award. The judges said this universal story distills all the elements of a great picture book to create a joyous celebration of the unexpected and deliver a conclusion that surprises the animals in the story and readers alike.

Described as one of Aotearoa’s “most exceptional storytellers”, David Hill was awarded the Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction for Below, a white-knuckle survival story set in a catastrophic tunnel collapse. The judges appreciated the way it trusts its young readers to handle big environmental ideas and come to their own conclusions.

The Young Adult Fiction Award went to Iris and Me by Philippa Werry, an inventive and original novel written in verse. The judges praised the unique narrative voice, which illuminates the life of Robin Hyde, one of Aotearoa’s most significant writers.

A Portrait of Leonardo by Donovan Bixley won the Russell Clark Award for Illustration. The judges were enamored with this vibrant retelling of the life of Leonardo da Vinci, which they described as a fluent and delightful feast for the eyes. They appreciated the fresh and youthful approach to biography, with visual humour, puns, puzzles and technical agility, all underpinned by solid drawing skills.

The Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for Te Reo Māori was presented to Kua Whetūrangitia a Koro by Brianne Te Paa, illustrated by Story Hemi-Morehouse. The judges loved how the traditional Māori narrative was tailored to fit a new world and a new audience. They felt the significance of the story, its context, and the author’s use of te reo Māori placed the book in a stratosphere of its own.

Finally, the NZSA Best First Book Award went to The Lighthouse Princess by Susan Wardell, illustrated by Rose Northey. This book’s poetic writing and whimsical illustrations made it stand out, creating a sum that is greater than its parts. The judges felt this clever alchemy was all the more astounding given that it is both the writer’s and the illustrator’s first foray into publication.

The full list of winners for the 2023 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults:

 

Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award $7500

Te Wehenga: The Separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku, Mat Tait (Allen & Unwin)

 

Picture Book Award $7500

Duck Goes Meow, Juliette MacIver, illustrated by Carla Martell (Scholastic New Zealand)

 

Wright Family Foundation Esther Glen Award for Junior Fiction $7500

Below, David Hill (Penguin Random House NZ)

 

Young Adult Fiction Award $7500

Iris and Me, Philippa Werry (The Cuba Press)

 

Elsie Locke Award for Non-Fiction $7500

Te Wehenga: The Separation of Ranginui and Papatūānuku, Mat Tait (Allen & Unwin)

 

Russell Clark Award for Illustration $7500

A Portrait of Leonardo, Donovan Bixley   (Upstart Press)

 

Wright Family Foundation Te Kura Pounamu Award for te reo Māori $7500

Kua Whetūrangitia a Koro, Brianne Te Paa, illustrated by Story Hemi-Morehouse (Huia Publishers)

 

NZSA Best First Book Award $2500

The Lighthouse Princess, Susan Wardell, illustrated by Rose Northey (Penguin Random House NZ)

1
The National led government has announced its 2024 Budget, highlighting...
1
Thousands of people across New Zealand have participated in protests...

World & National News

1
Exciting news for fans of Middle-earth! Andy Serkis is set...
1
A rare feather from the extinct New Zealand huia bird...
injection
1
New Zealand has decided to stop offering free influenza vaccines...