Topic: Winner of Inaugural Creative Tauranga Writers’ Award Announced

Topic type:

Local author and librarian, Debbie McCauley, has been announced as the 2015 winner of the inaugural Creative Tauranga Writers’ Award, a new literary award created to support and encourage local writers. The award was presented by Creative Tauranga Acting Chair Marcus Wilkins at the Byline book launch on October 15th.

The award is for either further literary studies or can be put towards self-publishing costs.

“It’s difficult for authors to find funding to publish books”, said Marcus Wilkins.  “This award is about recognising our local literary talent and encouraging local stories to be told.  Debbie is a worthy winner of our first award, with her books being recognised internationally”, continued Wilkins.

Winner of inaugural Creative Tauranga Writers’ Award announced

Jennifer Pearson, Debbie McCauley & Marcus Wilkins.

Debbie is well known locally for her children’s narrative non-fiction stories. Her book Motiti Blue and the Oil Spill: A Story from the Rena Disaster, won the Best Non-Fiction category in the 2015 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. The story was also recently announced as a 2015 White Raven book by Germany’s International Youth Library.

Another of her titles, Taratoa and the Code of Conduct: A Story from the Battle of Gate Pa, was a finalist in the 2015 LIANZA Children and Young Adult Book Awards.

The awards event was held at Creative Tauranga last night in conjunction with the launch of the Tauranga Writers book Byline 2015. This yearly anthology of writing by members of Tauranga Writers features contributions by 35 writers and includes poems, short stories, novel excerpts and creative non-fiction.

It is intended that Byline will become a regular showcase for Tauranga Writers and a welcome addition to the New Zealand literary scene. “Unfortunately I didn’t get time to contribute this year,” says Debbie. “Byline is a wonderful initiative and I hope to be in a position to contribute next year. I’m sure it will do extremely well”.

As part of the Tauranga Writers’ Award, Debbie will receive $2,000 towards self-publishing a story about the journey of the Treaty of Waitangi in Tauranga. “All I need to go ahead is an illustrator that can whakapapa back to one of the 21 local signatories,” says Debbie. “I’m keen to offer someone local the chance to get their work out into the public arena. It’s quite a difficult ask, but if there is anyone out there, I would encourage them to get in touch with me via Creative Tauranga as soon as possible”.

Winner of inaugural Creative Tauranga Writers’ Award announced

Debbie is passionate about telling local history in an engaging and entertaining way. “I think it’s really important that children are taught their own history, and told stories from their own backyard in order to contextualise their experience,” says Debbie. “It’s fantastic to receive this award from Creative Tauranga, humbling to be recognised, and a privilege to be part of what will surely become an important event in Tauranga’s arts and culture calendar”.

Three books have been created so far under Debbie’s imprint, Mauao Publishing, named to reflect the heart of our local community. Her first book, The McCauley Family of Katikati, New Zealand: 1876 to 2012, tells the story of Debbie’s pioneer ancestors who arrived in New Zealand in 1876 with George Vesey Stewart and the Katikati settlers. The 216 page book was published in 2012 to coincide with a family reunion and Debbie was later interviewed by BBC Northern Ireland about the Katikati settlement.

Debbie has also had her poetry published in the Bay of Plenty Times and literary magazines Bravado and Enamel 2, as well as an essay published in The New Zealand Library & Information Management Journal. Her play, Battle at Pukehinahina (29 April 1864), has been used extensively at Tauranga City Library, along with Taratoa and the Code of Conduct, to help educate children about the Battle of Gate Pa.

“I really enjoy researching and writing,” says Debbie, who works full-time as a librarian in Research Collections, the local history area of Tauranga City Library. “It’s just fairly difficult to find creative time whilst working, raising a family and running a business. This is why the support and encouragement of Creative Tauranga is so important to me and most welcome”.

Earlier this year Debbie took part in the New Zealand Book Awards Finalist Authors’ Tour and visited local schools. “It was wonderful to engage with the children,” says Debbie. “They were really interested in Motiti Blue’s story and had personal stories to share about how the Rena Disaster affected them”.

Debbie is an advocate of encouraging others, and especially children, to write. “I’ve always dabbled with writing, even making and stapling together my own books at primary school,” she says. “I write for my own enjoyment and believe that everyone can benefit from writing.”



Creative Tauranga / Mauao Publishing (Press Release, 16 October 2015).

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion

Winner of Inaugural Creative Tauranga Writers’ Award Announced