Topic: New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Finalist Authors’ Tour (2015): Debbie McCauley

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On Monday 3 August 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Finalist Debbie McCauley took part in an Authors’ Tour in conjunction with Tauranga City Libraries. Photos: Lauren Jones & Tonya Dunn.

The Authors’ Tour is a nationwide event and this year included twenty passionate and entertaining authors, excited children, more than 70 events, and a tons of fun and inspiration. 

St Thomas More, doing the Rena play

Debbie is the author of Mōtītī Blue and the Oil Spill: A story from the Rena Disaster which was also a finalist in the LIANZA Children and Young Adult Book Awards. She visited three Tauranga schools and was introduced to the children by Children and Teen’s Librarian, Lauren Jones:

Kia ora tamariki, ko Lauren Toku ingoa. He mahi ana ahau Te Wharepukapuka o Tauranga Moana. My name is Lauren and I’m a children’s librarian at the Tauranga library. I am very excited to be able to bring Debbie McCauley here to you today on behalf of the New Zealand Book Council. Debbie has written some brilliant books - Taratoa and the Code of Conduct and Motiti Blue and the Oil Spill.

I know you have had a look at Motiti Blue with your teachers, and it’s very special that you are getting the opportunity to meet the clever person who wrote these books!

So we are here today because Motiti Blue and the Oil Spill has been nominated for a 2015 NZ Book Award for Children and Young Adults. Hands up if you have heard of the NZ Book Awards? They used to be called the NZ Post Book Awards.

According to their website, the NZ Book Awards for Children and Young Adults “recognise the best books for children and young adults published annually in New Zealand”. To be nominated for an award is a big deal because not every book published in New Zealand is chosen – Debbie’s book was up against 150 others this year, which was narrowed down to 5 in her category, non-fiction.

There are five categories all together – best picture book, best non-fiction, best junior fiction, best young adult, and finally, a best Maori language award. The winners are decided by a panel of judges, except for the Children’s Choice award which – you guessed it – is decided by children and schools just like yours!

Debbie’s books are particularly special to us here in the Bay of Plenty because they are one of very few books written for children about things that happened here. Who remembers when the Rena grounded on the Astrolabe reef?

Did you or anyone you know help with the clean-up? The beach was closed and no one could go for a swim. It took a long time to get our shores and our sealife back to normal. So it was a very important event in Tauranga Moana’s history, and Debbie has captured the details so beautifully in her book Motiti Blue and the Oil Spill.

Hopefully after spending some time with Debbie today, you will feel inspired to create your own story about your community!

During the day Debbie and Lauren visited Golden Sands Primary School, Papamoa Primary School and St Thomas More Primary School. The children and teachers listened to a PowerPoint presentation about the Rena Disaster.

Papamoa Primary 2

Halfway through Debbie’s interactive talk nine children were chosen from the audience to be actors in a play about the oil spill where a little blue penguin is rescued, cleaned and released. One of the props was an oiled shark, and the children found it hilarious when a hair dryer was turned on to dry the ‘little blue penguin’ actor.

St Thomas More, everyone having a great time

“It was just brilliant,” says Debbie. “The children were all such fun and so passionate about the story, which is really their own story, from their backyard”.

After the play, the children learnt about the special places in Tauranga Moana where the local little blue penguin population live, about the smaller oil spill in Tauranga in April of this year, and the story of the little blue penguin rescued from that oil spill, Mobile One. They also listened to the stories of some interesting little blue penguins that live locally and found out what they could do to help out the local population.

Pap primary, girls taking pics of Debbie

“The children were so cool,” said Debbie “and the schools so welcoming. The Author Tour was such a great experience.” Debbie was asked many, many questions at each school, and the children were very interested in her dress which features a black bodice to represent Rena’s oil with a skirt made from little blue penguin patterned material.

St Thomas More, everyone having a great time

Papamoa librarian Tonya Dunn joined the Authors' Tour at St Thomas More Primary School. "It was a really friendly and engaging session with the children," said Tonya. "I liked the way there was all sorts of ways to engage the kids with the power point, the play, lots of discussion and interaction, the kids loved participating in all aspects. I think all sorts of messages will stick with the kids about the Rena, animal life affected and the community involvement (I could see the kids had a sense of pride about this one particularly), as well as about the fantastic book."

St Thomas More, play chaos 2

“The Tour is all about connecting with our authors, asking questions and getting excited about the adventure of reading, and the discovery of a new author or book. We also hope that it will inspire many to start their own creative writing, building a platform for our future writers and adding to New Zealand’s cultural wealth,” says Stella Chrysostomou, board member of the New Zealand Book Awards Trust that oversees the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

St Thomas More, play chaos

Next week Debbie flies to Wellington for the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Awards Ceremony. The finalists are in the four categories of Picture Book, Non-Fiction, Junior Fiction and Young Adult Fiction and also a Māori language award. The winners will be announced on Thursday 13 August at Government House in Wellington at an event hosted by their Excellencies The Governor-General of New Zealand Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae and Lady Janine Mateparae. Also announced will be the overall winner of the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year prize; and the winners of the Children’s Choice Awards, voted for by school children throughout New Zealand.



Buzz and Inspiration to Read the Focus for Finalist Authors' Tour (Booksellers New Zealand).

Lauren Jones (personal communication, 2015).

Mauao Publishing (Press Release, 4 August 2015).

Tonya Dunn (personal communication, 2015).

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New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Finalist Authors’ Tour (2015): Debbie McCauley

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New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Finalist Authors’ Tour (2015): Debbie McCauley by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International