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Drewery, Melanie
Writer's File

Melanie Drewery

Tasman - Te Tai o Aorere
Drewery, Melanie
In brief
Melanie Drewery is an author, illustrator and artist who writes primarily for children. Koro's Medicine was a finalist in the Picture Book Category of the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults, and the Māori translation of this title, by Kararaina Uatuku, won the 2005 Te Kura Pounamu Award. Drewery also won the Picture Book section of the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults for her book Tahi: One Lucky Kiwi.


Drewery, Melanie (1970- ) (Ngāti Māhanga) is a writer, illustrator and artist. She writes primarily for children.

Melanie was born in Palmerston North and lived in Feilding, Auckland, Picton and Blenheim before settling in Nelson. She has worked as a children’s librarian, a potter, an artist and as a preschool teacher. She has been a professional writer since 1998.

Drewery’s concern as a writer is to introduce te reo Māori in a way that is both non-threatening and engaging. For Drewery, the Māori tradition in story form gives children easy access to the language and culture and encourages further learning.

Drewery is best-known for her Nanny Mihi series (illustrated by Tracy Duncan) about two little children and their visits to their beloved grandmother’s house. Her books include Nanny Mihi & the Rainbow (Reed, 2001), Nanny Mihi’s Garden (Reed, 2002), Nanny Mihi’s Birthday Surprise (Reed, 2003), Matariki (Reed, 2003 and Puffin, 2009)), The Treasure (Reed, 2003), Nanny Mihi’s Treasure Hunt (Reed, 2004), Child of Aotearoa (Reed, 2004) and Koro's Medicine (Huia, 2004).

Cherie Taylor, in The Daily Post, writes of Nanny Mihi’s Birthday Surprise: ‘Delightful illustrations and easy flowing words will make this book inviting and intriguing for any child who has just learned to read.’

Koro's Medicine was a finalist in the picture book category at the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children & Young Adults. The Māori translation of the book, Nga Rongoa a Koro (translated by Kararaina Uatuku) went on to win the Te Kuru Pounamu Award at the 2005 LIANZA Children's Book Awards. He Tamaiti na Aotearoa (Reed), translated by Hone Apanui, was nominated for the same award.

Of Nga Rongoa a Koro, the judges said: 'Nga Rongoa a Koro has the ‘x’ factor. The illustrations are almost tactile, the topic conveys the cultural importance placed on rongoa and the storyline cleverly conveys this in a way that all readers will be able to relate to.'

Nanny Mihi's Christmas was published by Reed in 2006.

Papa's Island (Reed, 2006), is based on real events that happened in World War Two, when Soames Island became a prison camp for 'enemy aliens'.

The Grumble Rumble Mumbler (Huia, 2007) was chosen to be read at the 2007 New Zealand's Biggest Storytime, during Library Week. 'The Grumble Rumble Mumbler acknowledges children’s fears, and deals with them in a gentle and reassuring way.' (Create Readers Blog, National Library Website).

Itiiti's Gift, illustrated by Fifi Colston, was published by Reed in 2007.

Dad's Takeaways (Mallinson Rendel, 2007) is a charming new picture book by Drewery, telling the story of a family outing to get the best takeaways in the world.

The Mad Tadpole Adventure (Scholastic, 2007) is an illustrated chapter book, telling the story of a little girl who loved her tadpole and watched it turn into a frog. It was nominated in the junior fiction category for the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Tahi: One Lucky Kiwi (Random House, 2007) written by Melanie Drewery and illustrated by Ali Teo and John O'Reilly, is the educational story of Tahi, one lucky kiwi who was found in a game trap and ended up with a false leg. It won Best Picture Book at the 2008 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. The judges of these awards said 'here's a story to inspire all age groups, where unobtrusive facts about kiwis sit comfortably alongside the snappy, and humorous text.'

Big Fish, Little Fish is a story of family, where Jeremy learns a lesson - it's not the size of the fish that really matters, it's the reason for catching the fish that counts (Raupo, 2008).

Jiminy Shows Off (Mallinson Rendel, 2008) is Drewery's first book for older primary school children.

Stories from our Night Sky (Picture Puffin, 2009), illustrated by Jenny Cooper, takes us from the legends of Matariki and Rona and the Moon through to how tuatara made the stars.

Melanie Drewery's works have been continually listed as Storylines Notable Books. These include Matariki (2004), Koro's Medicine (2005), Nanny Mihi's Christmas (2006), Itiiti's Gift (2007), The Mad Tadpole Adventure (2008), The Grumble Rumble Mumbler (2008), Dad's Takeaways (2008), Tahi: One Lucky Kiwi (2008), and Big Fish, Little Fish (2009).

Her children's book series Nanny Mihi (Oratia Press) remains beloved. In 2022, Nanny Mihi's Medicine / Ngā Rongoā a Nanny Mihi was published as a bilingual edition, and in 2024 Melanie released Nanny Mihi's Harvest / Te Hauhake a Nanny Mihi.

She lives in Nelson and participates in the Writers in Schools programme.

    June 2024
    June 2024