August 24th

New Zealand Book Awards Children and Young Adults

Category: Uncategorized

It was a fast and furious trip to Wellington on August 12th for the New Zealand Book Awards Children and Young Adult. My fabulous publisher put me up in a gorgeous hotel with a gorgeous view! But there was no time for basking as there were shops to explore and not a lot of time! So I was off out the door and hoofing it up and down the streets with my eyes open for a bargain … or anything, really.

Fancy hotel

Fancy view from hotel

I made it back to the hotel for a quick change and slap on the lippy and downstairs to meet my publisher, my editor and a very handsome and impressive collection of Walker Books authors including the esteemed Brian Faulkner. I was particularly excited to meet my editor Mary whom I have only communicated with via phone and email. It was also lovely to see Angela Van Den Belt, head of publishing and the very best person to sit next to at any gathering for scintillating conversation.

Editor Mary

We jumped in cabs and drove to Government House which was pretty amazing. The historic building is simply stunning – grand and elegant.

Posh Government House   Fancy waiting room

I wished I could have had a tour to take it all in. The authors were shepherded off to a room where we milled and chatted while a photographer took individual snaps of the finalists with their books then we were in for the awards. It was a delightfully fancy affair in the great hall beneath the glittering chandelier and the Governor General himself present to convene.


While there was no luck for Spark in the Children’s Choice category for YA it was a delightful evening seeing people collect their awards and to be apart of celebrating brilliant NZ writing. Some of the speeches were very moving bringing the audience to laughter and tears. It was a particular highlight for me to see Paula Green win the Childrens Choice Award for Non-Fiction with her gorgeous book of poetry The Letterbox Cat. My children love Paula’s poems.

Natalie King  Suzzane Main  Angela Publisher


After the ceremony it was time for wine and nibbles and mingling. I had such a fun time meeting several authors I had only ever chatted with online including the truly charming Natalie King and Suzanne Main. Then the Walker Books authors snuck away for a sumptuous meal at the General Practitioner where I stuffed myself full and laughed myself silly sitting between my publisher and editor with the charming Brian Faulkner sitting across the table.

I was exhausted but happy by the time I made it back to the hotel, enjoyed a lovely soak in the tub and fell into bed.

The next morning it was breakfast with my editor Mary which had to be relocated to a café down the street as we ended up talking for almost 4 hours, discussing the first draft of book 3, Shield. Very exciting. Then with an hour to spare before catching the plane we dashed across the road to Te Papa to explore the Gallipolo Exhibit which was profoundly moving. I wish we could have stayed longer. The sculptures were huge and so real it was staggering.

Gallipoli 1 Gallipoli 2 Gallipoli 3

I was back on the plane by 2pm and back home in time for kids to come home from school and to be brought back to reality by dinner and laundry. No complaints. And now my lovely finalists award is gleaming in its frame on the wall.

Award in frame

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Rachael is a member of the New Zealand Society of Authors and you can visit the NZSA at and the Top of the South branch Her publisher is Walker Books Australia