Selina Tusitala Marsh (ONZM)
Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh O.N.Z.M. is of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English and French descent. She was the first Pacific Islander to graduate with a PhD in English from The University of Auckland and is now a lecturer in the English Department, specialising in Pasifika literature. Her first collection, the bestselling Fast Talking PI, won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry in 2010.
Marsh represented Tuvalu at the London Olympics Poetry Parnassus event in 2012; her work has been translated into Ukrainian and Spanish and has appeared in numerous forms live in schools, museums, parks, billboards, print and online literary journals. As Commonwealth Poet (2016), she composed and performed for the Queen at Westminster Abbey. She became New Zealand's Poet Laureate in 2017.
Mophead: How Your Difference Makes a Difference won the Margaret Mahy Best Book Award at the 2020 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Gavin Bishop (ONZM)
Gavin Bishop O.N.Z.M. is a writer and illustrator of international reputation. Born in Invercargill, he spent his childhood in the remote railway settlement of Kingston on the shores of Lake Wakatipu.
Studying under Russell Clark and Rudi Gopas, Gavin graduated from the Canterbury University School of Fine Arts with an honours degree in painting. He taught art at Linwood High School and at Christ’s College in Christchurch.
As a picture book author and artist he has published 70 books that have been translated into twelve languages and he has won numerous awards.
Most recently he was awarded the TE TOHU A TA KINGI IHAKA for a lifetime contribution to Maori Art and culture and THE PRIME MINISTER'S AWARD for Literacy Achievement.
In 2018, his book Aotearoa: The New Zealand Story won the supreme Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award and the Elsie Locke Award for Non-fiction at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. That same year, Aotearoa won a Storylines Notable Non-Fiction Award and Best Children’s Book at the PANZ Design Awards.
Ruby Jones is a young, Wellington-based artist and writer whose messages of hope and kindness captured the zeitgeist and gained worldwide attention after the March 2019 Christchurch terrorist attacks, when she shared her illustration featuring two women embracing, penned with the words ‘This is your home and you should have been safe here.’
A few days on from the attacks, Ruby was asked to illustrate a cover for Time magazine. Since then, her work has been shared widely and has appeared online with Buzzfeed, i-D, Vogue, Marie Claire and Nadia magazine.
Kitty Brown & Kirsten Parkinson
REO PEPI is Kitty and Kirsten's own initiative and creates simple, user-friendly bi-lingual books.
Through their own tamariki Kitty and Kirsten were inspired to create books that helps whanau to have te reo maori flourish in a home or education setting.
Kitty and Kirsten are Otepoti/Dunedin locals who have taken their great idea and made it into something special.
Swapna Haddow is the award-winning children’s author of the Dave Pigeon series.
She loves to write about boisterous animals that cause mayhem and is working with Faber & Faber, Stripes Publishing, Oxford University Press and Macmillan to make sure mean cats, grizzly bears and big-hearted little rabbits find their place on the bookshelves.
Friendship and humour are always at the heart of what Swapna loves to write.
David Elliot is a Dunedin-based and internationally-regarded award-winning author and illustrator of children's books. He worked for many years as an art teacher, but it was living in a zoo keeper's cottage which led Elliot to a career in illustration.
He has won many awards for his work, including the Unilever/Choysa Award and Best Picture Book in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. His work ranges from the light-hearted to a darker, almost gothic style, and has appeared in numerous exhibitions around New Zealand. Most recently, Elliot was awarded both the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award and the Russell Clark Award for Illustration at the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for his picture book Snark (Otago University Press, 2016)
He continues to illustrate, including artwork for his charming Port Chalmers gallery, The Flying Whale, with his latest book Oink, being published by Gecko Press.
Brought up in the Lake District, England, Rachel combines her passion for watercolour painting with an interest in early literacy to write and illustrate children’s stories. Now living in Dunedin’s, St Clair, suburb, she didn’t have to look too far for inspiration.
Her ﬁrst book St Clair Splash recalls the amusing, real life event, of a cheeky sea lion, who took a dip in the local Saltwater Pool. This book raises awareness and funds for the Sea Lion trust, which has become a formula for her other books.
Her most recent story, Remarkable Meg is a heart warming account of a dog who was reunited with her owners after going missing for over ﬁve weeks, with donations raised for The Wildlife Hospital. It remains to be seen which creature will be the topic of her next book.
A former broadcast journalist, Emma Wood has always loved a good story.
Her debut picture book Tulip and Doug - about an unconventional friendship between a girl and a potato - was illustrated by Carla Martell, and published in 2020 by Scholastic New Zealand.
When she isn't writing children's books, Emma works in communications and marketing, and also reviews the latest kidlit titles for the Otago Daily Times. She lives with her family in Dunedin.
Julia Marshall is the founder and publisher of Gecko Press, international publishers of curiously good children’s books from around the world, since 2004.
Gecko Press books are sold in New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the USA.
Gecko Press won New Zealand Publisher of the Year in 2017 and was shortlisted for the London Book Fair International Excellence Awards 2020 for Literary Translation.
Julia is President of the Publishers Association of New Zealand. She also translates children’s books from Swedish to English.
Ella West was born in Invercargill. When she had read her way through the children’s library she used her older brother’s card and began on the adult section. She intended to study science but a drama camp she went to when she was fifteen made up her mind to study English literature instead. She completed a BA at Victoria University.
A university holiday job, reporting at the Southland Times, taught her an understanding of the craft of writing and led her to the West Coast after a stint at the Evening Post in Wellington. In Westport, between getting the cows in, teaching drama, and raising two sons, she wrote Thieves, which was shortlisted in the New Zealand Post Book Awards the following year.
Anywhere But Here and Real Life quickly followed to complete the Thieves Trilogy and her many fans are wanting a fourth book. Ella writes full time when she isn’t chasing sheep and cattle on the farm or running her popular drop-in young writers sessions Twisty Plots at the Dunedin library
Her book Night Vision won the 2015 Young Adult section of the LIANZA Awards and was the Young Adult Children’s Choice winner in the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. Her latest book Rain Fall was a Ngaio Marsh finalist in 2019.