Saturday, May 15, 2010

Trevor Agnew reports:

Te Tai Tamariki’s new (and very first) premises are on the first floor at 87 Victoria Street, Christchurch. That’s just up from the Christchurch Casino, just down from the Victoria Clock-tower and just above the Children’s Bookshop. (Te Tai Tamariki is not actually linked to any of these, but they help to get visitors oriented.) It’s a collection of oddly-shaped rooms, with an echoing concrete floor. Some enthusiastic members have completed the scrubbing and the carpet will be installed soon. Enlarged vinyl copies of artwork used to publicise recent displays are hanging on the wall – pirates created by Jenny Cooper, Pamela Allen and David Elliott, and lots of rats by Gavin Bishop

On the evening of Wednesday 12th May, a good crowd of well-wishers assembled in these rooms. They were writers, illustrators, book designers, teachers, tutors, librarians, parents, booksellers, children, reading enthusiasts and book lovers, all united in their support of Te Tai Tamariki’s goal of saving the illustrations and manuscripts of our children’s books for posterity. They were also united in enjoying some nice wine and snacks, and in purchasing Te Tai Tamariki calendars and T-shirts. The official welcoming and opening speeches were given by Kim Dovey, chair of the Marketing Events and Promotions committee of Te Tai Tamariki, and Rosemary Bonkowski, chair of the Board of Trustees. Rosemary referred to her recent visit to Seven Stories in Britain (, one of the inspirations for Te Tai Tamariki, and passed on their warning that there are nine busy years ahead of us to get Te Tai Tamariki up-and-running.

As well as Te Tai Tamariki’s hopes and plans for the future (described on our website at we also enjoyed a panel discussion on the 20 finalist books for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards. Adrienne Shapland spoke on picture books, Ben Brown on junior fiction and Julianne Paske on senior fiction. They provided cogent analysis and an appreciation of the merits (and occasional flaws) of the books. Bob Docherty was unwell, so Trevor Agnew introduced the non-fiction books in a totally impromptu and neutral way – he loves them all.

The audience vote was interesting. Their picks for prize-winners were:

Picture book: Old Hu-hu, Kyle Mewburn, illustrated by Rachel Driscoll
Junior Fiction: Cry of the Taniwha, Des Hunt
Senior Fiction: The Crossing, Mandy Hager
Non-fiction: Dear Alison, Dudley Muff, edited by Simon Pollard
Children’s Choice: The Wonky Donkey, Craig Smith, illustrated by Katz Cowley
Honour Award: The Word Witch: The Magical verse of Margaret Mahy, illustrated by David Elliott, edited by Tessa Duder

There might have been a Canterbury bias there. What’s your pick? The real answer will be given on Wed 19th May, when the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards winners are announced.

Meanwhile, why not plan a discussion panel in your own district ready for next year’s awards?

Keep an eye out for the various Te Tai Tamariki exhibitions of original book art. Several are on display around the nation:
Wairua: Maori Spirituality in New Zealand Children’s Books, Canterbury Museum, Christchurch, to 20 June 2020.
Off the Page, Whakatane Museum and Gallery, 14 June-15 August 2010.
Off the Page, Ashburton Art Gallery, 6 Nov- 6 Dec 2010.
A New Page, COCA Gallery, Christchurch, 10 Aug – 6 Sep 2010.
ICONS: Five Iconographic NZ Children’s Books, Millennium Gallery, Blenheim, 4 Feb – 13 Mar 2011.

 Any queries about Te Tai Tamariki (or requests to buy t-shirts and calendars) can be sent to Mary Sangster, the secretary, at

Te Tai Tamararik website.

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