Archive for Celebrating New Zealand

Celebrate our best authors and illustrators in New Zealand Book Month

NZBM green logo rgb smNew Zealand Book Month starts today and runs for the whole month of March.  It’s the month where we celebrate all the wonderful authors and illustrators that we have in New Zealand.  Here on the Christchurch Kids Blog there will be lots of cool things happening, including:

  • Fast Five Questions with NZ children’s and young adult authors and illustrators, including David Hill, Sherryl Jordan, Diana Noonan and Donovan Bixley.
  • Guest blog posts from Melinda Szymanik and Barbara Else.
  • Lots of NZ book reviews and promotions.
  • NZ book giveaways.

Make sure you check back in March to help celebrate New Zealand books, authors and illustrators.  You can also check the NZ Book Month page on the library website to see what’s happening in Christchurch throughout the month.

Don’t forget to pick up or download your $5-off voucher that you can put towards any book you buy in March.  For more info see the NZ Book Month website.

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Testing, testing…

ImageHello! I’m not supposed to be here yet, but since I’m not very good with computers, I thought I’d better get in some practice first. My name is Lee Murray and I’ve been invited to be your Star Author for next month, New Zealand Book Month, which is very exciting. New Zealand Book Month is a special month-long party held every year in March. In involves all sorts of  events intended to promote books and reading, and especially to encourage people to read New Zealand books by New Zealand writers. I think that’s a terrific idea. I’m going to make it my goal to read four books by New Zealand authors before the end of March. Maybe you could do the same?  I’d love to hear about New Zealand books that you’ve enjoyed, or not enjoyed and the reasons why. Here are some great kiwi titles to get you started:

The Drover’s Quest by Susan Brocker

The Peco Incident by Des Hunt

Skye and the Lost Relic by Correne Walmsley

X-Rated by Gun Caundle (it’s okay, this book is NOT actually x-rated)

The Tooth Fairy’s Mistake by Linda Dawley

Dragons Away by K.D. Berry

Looking forward to joining you in a few days time…

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2012 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards Winners

The 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards were announced last week.  Congratulations to all the winners!

Picture Book WinnerRāhui (Te reo Māori edition)  by Chris Szekely; nā Malcolm Ross ngā pikitia; nā Brian Morris i whakamāori and Rāhui (English edition) Chris Szekely; illustrated by Malcolm Ross

Non-fiction WinnerNice day for a war: adventures of a Kiwi soldier in World War I by Matt Elliott; illustrated by Chris Slane

Junior FictionSuper Finn by Leonie Agnew

Young AdultCalling the gods  by Jack Lasenby

Book of the Year – Nice day for a war Matt Elliot; illustrated by Chris Sloane (Non Fiction category winner)

Children’s Choice – The cat’s pyjamas by Catherine Foreman

Best First Book – Super Finn by Leonie Agnew

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Lest we forget: Remember the fallen on ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day is celebrated in Australia and New Zealand on 25 April.  It is a time when we remember New Zealanders and Australians who fought in wars around the world. We might attend a dawn service and parade, talk to older relatives about their memories, buy and wear a red poppy, make ANZAC biscuits, and remember our family members who fought in wars.

We have a great kids webpage that you can check out for anything you would like to know about ANZAC Day and Gallipoli.  You’ll find fast facts, links to books and resources that the library has on ANZAC Day, and links to some great websites with extra information.

On Friday I’ll be talking about some of my favourite ANZAC books, including A Rose for the ANZAC Boys, The Ghosts of Iron Bottom Sound, When Empire Calls and The Red Poppy.

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Celebrate the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival

The 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival runs from 7-16 May, 2012 and celebrates the books that are finalists in the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards.

We have some great events planned in Canterbury to celebrate the finalist books, including a competition that you can enter to win book vouchers.   You can download the Canterbury Programme for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival and the entry form for the Canterbury Festival competition, Who’s Your Remarkable Kiwi right here.

New Zealand Post Children’s Book Festival – Canterbury Programme

Enter the Remarkable Kiwis competition

Tell us about a remarkable Kiwi in your life.   They could be your mum, dad, grandparents, teacher or anyone else you know.

Terms and conditions:

  • Open to Canterbury residents aged 7-18 years.
  • Competition closes Sunday 29 April at 5pm.
  • Winners will be notified by notified by phone and/or email and will be invited to the prize giving in the Festival week (7-16 May).
  • If you are a winner, you consent to your name, photograph, entry and/or interview being used for reasonable publicity purposes.
  • Prizes are not transferable.

You can drop your entry into Shirley Library or send to:  Zac Harding, Shirley Library, 36 Marshland Road, Christchurch 8061.

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Fast Five with Fleur Beale

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

It happened by accident really. Mum was always writing and telling her own stories and when I’d left home she sent me notes from a writing course she went to. I started writing very short stories for Grampa’s Place which was a radio programme for pre-schoolers. Once you start writing, you get hooked.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Being able to be boss of my own world. It’s also a good thing to be if you’re curious because you always want to know more, you want to find out why and how. I fear that I’m horribly curious.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

That’s a hard one! I love Rocco by Sherryl Jordan, The Changeover by Margaret Mahy, See Ya, Simon by David Hill, The Bridge by Jane Higgins, and I admire and adore Lynley Dodd’s Hairy Maclary books. Marmaduke Duck and the Marmalade Jam by Juliette McIver is another favourite too. I’d better stop . . .

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

I spent a month in London over Christmas and although I greatly enjoyed it, it was wonderful to come home to bright days, green landscapes and space. Yesterday I would have said Wellington’s balmy, beautiful weather, but today there’s a gale force wind again so scrub that. I hugely enjoy being able to go into schools – that’s a real privilege. I love it that the people who write for young adults and children are a friendly and supportive bunch.

5. What book changed your life?

I can’t really claim to have a book that changed my life, although possibly getting my first book published did because it made me want to keep going, to make sure that it hadn’t just been a fluke.

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Fast Five with Johanna Knox

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

When I was about 20, it dawned on me that it was the only thing I could truly spend hours on end doing, week after week, month after month – without getting too bored or frustrated.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

I especially like the thinking stages – where you dream stuff up before you get it down in writing. It feels exciting. I love research too, so I gravitate towards writing projects where I have to do some detective work, or learn about new things. Fun in a different way is going over and editing what I’ve already written. When it’s going well (which it isn’t always), it’s very satisfying.

The other great thing about being a writer is that you have a reason – that no one can argue with – to spend a lot of time reading. (Since everyone knows that to get better at writing you have to read a lot.)

3. What’s your favouriteNew Zealandbook?

It changes almost every day, but today it’s The Native Trees of New Zealand by JT Salmon. Every time I open it I go on a mini bush adventure without even leaving my seat.

4. What do you love aboutNew Zealand?

Lots of things. Most importantly, almost all my friends and family are here.

5. What book changed your life?

So many books have in different ways. I was upset and shocked reading books about World War 2 when I was 11 and 12. They changed the way I saw the world.

More happily, when I was younger, the books that coloured my outlook vividly and permanently were often books of fairytales, folk tales, and mythology … For example I adored my Mum’s books of Greek mythology. (She was a classical studies lecturer.)  When you read those ancient, great tales over and over again, you can’t help it – you start to see the themes and story-lines and character types popping up all over the place in your own real life.

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Fast Five with James Norcliffe

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

I discovered quite early on that not only was I able to write, but that I really enjoyed writing. It was one of the few things I was any good at, so a no brainer really.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The best thing about being a children’s writer is that it allows you to go on playing long after most people have stopped.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

Probably Maurice Gee’s Plumb.

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

Apart from the people I’m close to, the environment we haven’t managed to trash yet. Anywhere, probably near the sea, with trees and a sausage.

5. What book changed your life?

Just one? I’m so impressionable, usually the last book I’ve read has changed my life. The cute answer would be Janet and John because it started me on the reading road. In childhood Tom Sawyer or The Island in the Pines, adolescence it would probably have been The Catcher in the Rye, closely followed by Catch 22. After these, there would be a bit of a catalogue.

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Fast Five with Amy Brown

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

My parents’ house has always had full bookshelves; there are piles of books next to each bed, and even beside the bath. The idea of being able and allowed to write the words in these important objects was thrilling. In Standard Two, I said that one day I wanted to write books for children. After school that day, I asked Mum what she thought I might be when I grew up. When she guessed that I would be a writer, I was delighted at her response. I still am.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

When I’ve been writing for quite a while – perhaps two hours non-stop – the words sometimes begin to come unexpectedly. The chapter unfolds almost as if I am reading rather than writing it myself. Rereading these pages later, I often forget having written parts of them.  This is an exciting feeling.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

I won’t choose a favourite, because it is too difficult. But, I will say that Maurice Gee’s O Trilogy has stayed with me since I first read it nearly twenty years ago. I still have dreams (nightmares?) about Susan Ferris meeting the Birdfolk. I also vividly remember Jack Lasenby’s Harry Wakatipu stories. If you haven’t read them, Harry Wakatipu is a surly talking packhorse who lives with a deer culler in the Ureweras and gets into all sorts of mischief. Recently, I tried to tell a friend the story of when Harry starts illegally tickling trout, but had to stop because I was crying with laughter.

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

I love that, in New Zealand, you’re never too far from the sea. I also love that you can walk barefoot without worrying about snakes or spiders biting you (I currently live in Australia).

5. What book changed your life?

Because I read it so often, and then later used it as a model for my own books, Jill’s Gymkhana by Ruby Ferguson probably changed my life. Its sense of humour, weird 1950s references to Bing Crosby, and brilliant line drawings have no doubt contributed to who I am today. I admit that it isn’t the best book in the world, but it has been important to me.
Amy Brown is the author of the Pony Tales series, including the latest book, Jade’s Summer of Horses.

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Fast Five with Gavin Bishop

1. Why did you want to be a writer?

So I could be in complete control of the picture books that I wanted to illustrate.

2. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Besides working at home in my own studio I enjoy talking to children and adults about my work.

3. What’s your favourite New Zealand book?

“The Three Legged Cat” by Margaret Mahy

4. What do you love most about New Zealand?

Feeling as if I belong here.

5. What book changed your life?

“The Hobbit” by J. R. Tolkein

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Who’s your favourite New Zealand author? Tell us and win!

To celebrate New Zealand Book Month we want to find Christchurch’s favourite New Zealand children’s author.  We have so many great authors, from Margaret Mahy and Joy Cowley to Brian Falkner and Des Hunt.  We want you to vote for your favourite.

All you have to do is enter your details in the form below with the name of your favourite author.  At the end of the month we’ll add all the votes together and name your favourite.  One lucky voter will also win a prize pack of New Zealand books.

Get voting and tell us who is your favourite New Zealand author.  We’ll announce your favourite author on Monday 26 March, 2012.

Christchurch kids’ favourite New Zealand author is: MARGARET MAHY

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New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2012 Finalists

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Join us for New Zealand Book Month

March is the month that we celebrate New Zealand books, authors and illustrators.  It’s New Zealand Book Month  – and we’ll have some special events and competitions to celebrate our fantastic authors and illustrators.  Stay tuned for:

  • Vote for your favourite New Zealand children’s author – everyone that votes goes in the draw to win a New Zealand book pack.
  • New Zealand children’s authors and illustrators answer our Fast Five questions.  Find out how books have changed the lives of our best authors.

There are also lots of other cool events happening in our libraries.  Find out more about our events on the library website.

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Ohau Ski Area and Images of The Battle of Savo Island

Hi readers,

It’s Sunday morning. The sun is shining and I’m off skiing at my favourite skifield very soon: Ohau, where the sun shines, the snow invites, the views are spectacular, there are no lift queues, and my friends are dotted around the field or eating noodles and drinking coffee in the little cafe. It’s a great place. Ohau means place of wind and yes, it can be windy there, but not today!

Here’s a link to Ohau Ski Area, a photo of Lake Ohau taken by my son Josh (15), and a couple of poem that have come into my head when I have been skiing at Ohau.


On the Chairlift at Ohau

The tiniest of snowflakes

Dance through the late afternoon air.

One lands on my black trouser leg.

A white star.





Thoughts from the Boulevard

My thighs are screaming.

I stop.

I look.

What is this word in my head?

An obsolete airline.

A small freshwater duck.

A greenish-blue colour.

Lake Ohau.


(That poem was published in Crest to Crest by Wily Publications. It is a poem adults might understand more than kids because one of the meanings of Teal is that it is the name of an airline that used to be in N.Z. a long time ago – a time that my 7 year-old twins would call the olden days!)

And also for you today blog readers: Something from history …  

Images from Guadalcanal in August 1942, the time in history that I wrote about in my book. It looks kind-of beautiful, but actually it must have been terrifying and heart-breaking.

More soon …

From your August Star Author

Sandy Nelson


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New Zealand’s ‘devils of the night’ – the giant weta

cristy burne and headsHi! I’m Cristy Burne, author of the Takeshita Demons books and Star Author for July.

July is nearly over, so don’t forget to enter our Make a Monster competition and win a copy of Takeshita Demons! We’ve had some awesome entries so far!

As some of you already know, I love writing about monsters and crazy, spooky things.

Well, some of the craziest, spookiest things are not imagined in books or stories. They’re real!

A great example — and a spooky creature I  love — is New Zealand’s giant weta.

What a weta!

Giant weta have been around for about 190 million years, and they look like it too. The giant weta on Little Barrier Island, off the coast of New Zealand, are known as ‘devils of the night’.

Their Maori name, ‘Wetapunga’, translates to ‘god of ugly things’.

Here are some cool facts about weta:

– Giant weta are orthopteran insects of the family Anostostomatidae. They look like wingless, leggy grasshoppers, and their bodies alone can reach around 8cm in length.

– They can weigh more than 70 grams, or about three times the weight of a house mouse.

– Many giant weta are not really so giant, and smaller species such as the Nelson Alpine Weta tip the scales at a not-very-scary average of 7 grams.

– Wetas are more likely to dine on treetop leaves than small children. They’re too heavy to jump, have no wings, and are slow to get around, making vegetarian cuisine the more affordable menu option.

– In a fight, wetas are sadly ill equipped, with only their spiky back legs and devastating bad looks for defence. Some will even roll over and play dead in an attempt to trick would-be predators.

– New Zealand’s new predators — the rats, cats, stoats and hedgehogs — often find that giant wetas make a decent-sized snack. This means giant weta populations are dwindling, and where Wetapunga were once common in the north of the North Island, they are now found only on Little Barrier Island, off the coast of Auckland.

– One weta species, the Mahoenui, returned from mainland extinction when it was discovered in 1962 hiding out in some gorse bushes in the North Island; the spikes of the introduced gorse had kept hungry hunters at bay. This weta weed patch has since been declared a protected area, and more than 200 endangered weta have been relocated to Mahurangi Island, in the hope of baby wetas on the way.

Aren’t weta awesome?

I find when I am having trouble thinking of something to write about, I can find inspiration in real life and amazing science. There are always strange things happening in the real world.

Where do you get your writing inspiration?

Anyone ever written a story about a giant weta?

If you want extra weta inspiration, you can get more weta-riffic facts from NZ’s Department of Conservation.

Happy writing and reading!


Cristy Burne
Author of the Takeshita Demons series

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Celebrate Matariki at your library

Not only does it start to get colder in June, but we also celebrate Matariki, the beginning of the Maori New Year.  Matariki (translated as tiny eyes) is a small cluster of stars that appears at this time of the year.

When we see Matariki appear in the night sky it means that it is time to prepare, to share ideas, to
remember the past and celebrate the future. Throughout Matariki we learn about those who came before us: our history, our family.

Some of the ways that you can celebrate Matariki are:

  • Make and fly a kite – kites were seen as the connectors between heaven and earth and were often flown during Matariki, especially on the first day of the New Year.
  • Cook a meal for friends and whanau.  Invite everyone around and enjoy lots of kai.
  • Celebrate your whakapapa (family history).  While you have all your whanau around for a feast, everyone could share a story.  Talk to your grandparents and find out what life was like when they were a kid.

There are lots of fun events happening throughout Matariki in your local library and you can even go to the Nga Hau e Wha National Marae to try some craft activities and watch Kapa Haka performances.  Check out our Matariki events brochure for more information.

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On ANZAC Day, we will remember them

coverANZAC Day is celebrated on 25 April every year to remember all the people who served and especially those who died in the two World Wars and other major conflicts.

The library has lots of material about ANZAC day, including Diggers’ Poems – written by returned soldiers after World War I. There’s plenty more to choose from as well:

There are also a number of dawn parades and memorials around Christchurch and Canterbury that you could go along to to remember those that died fighting for their country.

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Explore Christchurch at your library and win

Last week's winning photo, found by Saoirse

We want you to hunt through our photo collection and find the most interesting photos.  Each fortnight we will pick a category of photos from the website for you to explore.  All you have to do is find your favourite photo in the category, copy the address and post it in a comment on the blog telling us why you like it.  We’ll post the winner’s photo each time and they’ll receive a book prize.


This week’s category – Christchurch City Scenes

Terms and conditions

  • To enter this competition you must be between 8 and 12 years old and live in Canterbury. We may ask for proof of your address and your age.
  • If you are a winner, you consent to your name, photograph, entry and/or interview being used for reasonable publicity purposes by Christchurch City Libraries.
  • Staff of Christchurch City Libraries and their immediate families are not able to enter.
  • The competition ends on Friday 15 April at 5pm.
  • We will announce the winners on the Christchurch Kids Blog on Monday 18 April 2011.
  • We will notify the winners by telephone and/or email.
  • The Christchurch Kids Blog judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Prizes are as stated and are not transferable.

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Let the fun begin – New Zealand Book Month 2011

March is the month that we celebrate New Zealand books, authors and illustrators.  It’s New Zealand Book Month  – and we have some special events and competitions to celebrate our fantastic authors and illustrators.

Here in Christchurch, we are not letting Mother Nature ruin our fun.  Several events that we had planned for New Zealand Book Month are still going ahead and some of our fantastic New Zealand authors are blogging about their favourite New Zealand children’s books.

So tell us what your favourite New Zealand books are.  Just click on Add a comment at the bottom of this post and tell us what you think.  Any Christchurch kids (aged 8-12 years) who comment on the blog during March will go in the draw to win a selection of great New Zealand books.  Make sure you tell us your name and email address so that we can contact you if you win.

This competition has now closed but we’d still like to hear about your favourite NZ books.

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My favourite NZ books – Bill Nagelkerke

PhotoOne New Zealand book I particularly remember is Elsie Locke’s The Runaway Settlers, a story about a pioneering family who arrive in Lyttelton in 1858. They make a new home for themselves in Governors Bay, near Christchurch. I must have been about seven or eight years old when our teacher read this novel to our class. It had only recently been published. This was probably the first time I heard a story where events were happening in a place close to where I lived, not somewhere else altogether. It made me look at those places differently.

Many years later I was lucky enough to meet the author herself and talk to her about the book. Although Elsie is no longer alive, The Runaway Settlers is still around and it’s as good now as it was when it was first published forty-six years ago.

Bill Nagelkerke

So, what’s your favourite New Zealand book?

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