Creative non-fiction writer Maria Gill is the 2020 winner of New Zealand’s top literary prize for children’s writers, the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture award.
Given annually since 1991, the award honours lifetime achievement and an outstanding contribution to New Zealand publishing for children and young adults.
Storylines Chair, Christine Young, says Storylines is delighted to honour Maria’s place as a leading nonfiction specialist, for her advocacy and teaching roles, and for the years she has spent co-ordinating KiwiWrite4Kidz.
“It’s great to see the strength of non-fiction writing for young people in New Zealand, and the variety of ways that our stories are being told for young readers. Maria has had a very strong hand in leading the way with her own books, as well as through influencing a whole new generation of non-fiction writers,” Christine says.
Born in Auckland in October 1961, and after several years of travel and diverse work experience, Maria Gill trained as a teacher (Bachelor of Education, Diploma of Teaching). She taught in primary and intermediate schools and later completed a graduate diploma in Journalism Studies at Massey University.
This year, she embarks on a Masters in Creative Writing at AUT University. Since 2005 she has published more than 60 non-fiction titles, many of them educational books written to align with the curriculum, covering natural history, exploration, geography, general science, environment and contemporary topics.
Among her best known are the award-winning New Zealand Hall of Fame: 50 Remarkable Kiwis, illustrated by Bruce Potter, which won the non-fiction category of the 2012 New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards Children’s Choice awards, and Anzac Heroes, illustrated by Marco Ivancic, which was judged both non-fiction winner and ‘Book of the Year’ in the 2016 New Zealand Children’s Book awards. Eight of her books have been judged as Storylines Notable Books.
Alongside her own extraordinary output, Maria is noted as a frequent visitor to schools across the country, a judge for writing competitions, an in-demand speaker at conferences, and especially as the tireless coordinator and editor of KiwiWrite4Kids, an organisation which for 11 years ran workshops for aspiring writers, organised school visits and generally advocated for children’s books and reading.
The Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal and Lecture will be presented at the Storylines Margaret Mahy National Awards Day to be held in Auckland on Sunday 5 April 2020.