Awards & honours

One of Margaret Mahy’s Carnegie MedalsMargaret Mahy won many awards throughout her career as an outstanding children’s author. These awards include:

Cover: The Moon and Farmer McPhee2012

IBBY’S 2012 Honour List

The moon and Farmer McPhee was one of three New Zealand books chosen for the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honour List. The list is composed biennially and the books form part of a travelling exhibition.


The New Zealand Post Children’s Book Award

The moon and Farmer McPhee was the overall winner of the New Zealand Post Children’s Book of the Year. It also won the Picture Book Award.

Cover: Bubble Trouble2009

The Boston-Globe Horn Book Awards - Picture Book

Bubble trouble (illustrated by Polly Dunbar) won the Boston-Globe Horn Book Award for best Picture Book in 2009.


The Phoenix Award

The Phoenix Award is awarded annually by the Children’s Literature Association, a Canadian organisation. It is presented to a book that has been published 20 years ago and was not recognised by a major award at the time of its publication. Margaret Mahy won this award in 2007 for the book Memory.


Presentation of the Hans Christian Andersen Award to Margaret Mahy

Photos taken at the presentation of the Hans Christian Andersen Award to Margaret Mahy in Macau, September 21, 2006. Photos courtesy of Tessa Duder and Storylines.

The Kiwi Contingent The Kiwi contingent in Macau - from left Dr Libby Limbrick, Margaret Mahy, Vicky Jones, Julian Ludbrook (NZ Consul-General to Hong Kong), Tessa Duder

Receiving the medal Margaret Mahy receiving the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, with Dr Jeffrey Garrett and Dr Peter Schneck

Acceptance speech Margaret Mahy giving her acceptance speech in Macau

Margaret Mahy Margaret Mahy with her Hans Christian Andersen Medal, Beijing, September 2006

Hans Christian Andersen Award

HCA judges make the announcementNew Zealand author Margaret Mahy has won the world’s premier prize for children’s writing, the Hans Christian Andersen Award. The announcement, made in Bologna this morning (NZ time), caps a remarkable year for Mahy, who recently celebrated her 70th birthday.

Often called the Little Nobel, the award is given biennially by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) to honour an author who has made a lasting contribution to international children’s literature. Previous winners have included English novelist Aidan Chambers (2005), the Irish writer-illustrator Martin Waddell (2004) and a galaxy of writers stretching back to 1956.

Mahy, nominated by the Storylines Children’s Literature Foundation of New Zealand representing the New Zealand branch of IBBY, joins Australian writer Patricia Wrightson as only the second from Australasia to win the award. She will travel to Beijing in September to be honoured at the IBBY World Congress.

The Storylines organisation is jubilant that Margaret has now achieved her rightful place in world children’s literature, says chairperson Rosemary Tisdall. This is a huge achievement and the whole of New Zealand, children and adults like, congratulates its greatest and most beloved writer.

The award tops off a remarkable period of recognition for Mahy. Already holding New Zealand’s top civil award, the Order of New Zealand, she has in the last two years has received the Prime Minister’s Award for Fiction, a second honorary doctorate (University of Waikato) and the Phoenix Award from Canada’s Children’s Literature Association. She became an official New Zealand Arts Icon in 2005 and is twice shortlisted for the 2006 New Zealand Post Children’’s Book Awards (to be announced in May).

Mahy’s career began in 1961 with the publication of her first story in the School Journal. International recognition arrived in 1969, when five of her Journal stories appeared as picture books, and was cemented by an astonishing outpouring of picture books and story collections during the 1970s.

Display of HCA winner’s booksIn 1980, aged 44 and mother of two teenage daughters, Mahy left her Christchurch library position to write full-time. Her first two novels, The haunting and The changeover, won the prestigious British Carnegie Medal for 1982 and 1984.

Among her publications for children are picture books, novels for children and young adults, non-fiction, poetry and plays, while for adults, recent publications of essays and speeches have reinforced her reputation as an outstanding essayist, commentator and thinker. She has also written extensively for television (including Maddigan’s quest) and adapted The haunting as a feature film.

Many of her children’s books have been translated, into more than 15 languages, and she has regularly appeared at international forums on children’s literature since the early 1970s.

Source: Press Release, 28 March 2006

The Hans Christian Andersen Jury of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) announces that Margaret Mahy (New Zealand) is the winner of the 2006 Hans Christian Andersen Author Award and Wolf Erlbruch (Germany) is the winner of the 2006 Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration.

The Awards will be presented to the winners at the opening ceremony of IBBY’s Congress in Beijing, China, on 20 September 2006.

In awarding the 2006 Hans Christian Andersen Medal for Writing to Margaret Mahy, the jury has recognized one of the world’s most original re-inventers of language. Mahy’s language is rich in poetic imagery, magic, and supernatural elements. Her oeuvre provides a vast, numinous, but intensely personal metaphorical arena for the expression and experience of childhood and adolescence. Equally important, however, are her rhymes and poems for children. Mahy’s works are known to children and young adults all over the world.

Source: IBBY Announces the Winners of the Hans Christian Andersen Awards 2006, 27 March 2006

Maddigan’s Fantasia The ten books submitted to the Hans Christian Andersen Jury were:

This list comprised five novels published over a span of 25 years, three picture books from 1969 to the present, and one school reader.

Sir Julius Vogel Award for Services to Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Sir Julius Vogel Awards are awarded each year at the New Zealand National Science Fiction Convention to recognise achievement in New Zealand science fiction, fantasy, horror, and fandom. Margaret won the Services to Science Fiction and Fantasy award for her body of work.

The Phoenix Award

Cover of The TrickstersThe tricksters was an honour book in the 2006 Phoenix Awards, an award from the Canadian Children’s Literature Association which honours a book that was released 20 years previously and was not honoured with a major award at the time.


Prime Minister’s Literary Awards

The Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in FICTION for 2005 is going to a writer who has brought magic, humour, and joy into many a young (and older!) life. She, too, has been writing for nearly half a century. She acquired a well-deserved worldwide reputation as an accomplished writer of children’s fiction with the overseas publication of her first children’s picture book in 1969.

Source: Rt Hon Helen Clark Prime Minister, Address at Prime Minister’s Literary Awards, Wednesday 7 December 2005

Icon Artist 2005

The Arts Foundation of New Zealand with Principal Sponsor Forsyth Barr and Icon Supporting Sponsor, AMP, honoured the living Icons of New Zealand arts at the second biennial Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Awards - Honouring Pre-eminence - Whakamana Hiranga. Selected by their peers, these artists are recognised as leaders in their fields, in some cases internationally renowned and often local pioneers in their chosen art forms. Margaret Mahy was one of the Icon artists honoured in 2005.

MARGARET MAHY, a household name in New Zealand, is a prolific writer of children’s books, which have been translated into fifteen different languages. Margaret has won many New Zealand and international awards for her writing and some of her stories have been adapted for television both in New Zealand and Australia.

Source: AFNZ Update, 14 July 2005

University Honours Mahy

Author Margaret Mahy is to receive an honorary doctorate from Waikato University this month. The university says the award is in recognition of her national and international reputation as a writer of fiction for children and young adults. In awarding her this honorary doctorate the university is proud to add to her accolades, recognising her enormous value to the literary, creative and educational world, the university said in its citation. Larger than life, often appearing in a green or multi-coloured wig, she is without doubt the most well-known, most widely-read and most enjoyed New Zealand writer.

Source: The Press, Christchurch, 20 April 2005

The Phoenix Award

Margaret Mahy, winner of the 2005 Phoenix Award and distinguished author of young adult novels, will speak at the Canadian Children’s Literature Association’s Annual Conference about her career.

Margaret Mahy has been awarded the Canadian Children’s Literature Association Phoenix Award 2005 for her novel The catalogue of the universe. Established in 1985, the Phoenix Award is given annually to a book originally published in English twenty years previously which did not receive a major award at the time of its publication.

A selection of prize winning titles

The catalogue of the universe
Canadian Children’s Literature Association Phoenix Award, 2005
New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2003, Senior Fiction
Awards judge broadcaster Kim Hill praised Alchemy for incorporating some fairly erudite philosophical concepts without losing sight of the characters’ humanity. (, 9.4.03)
Twenty-four hours
New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2001 Senior Fiction Honour Award
Esther Glen Award 2001: NZ Library and Information Association
Judge’s comment: In this edgy, luminous narrative Mahy captures many layers and strands of experience and compresses them into a brief intersection of lives. She casts light onto the complexities, uncertainties and rich potential of human existence.
A villain’s night out
New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2000, Junior Fiction Honour Award
A summery Saturday morning
New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 1999, Picture Book
AIM Children’s Book Awards 1993
Esther Glen Award 1993
Cover: The ChangeoverThe changeover
Esther Glen Award 1985
Carnegie Medal 1984
The haunting
Carnegie Medal 1982
Esther Glen Award 1982
The First Margaret Mahy story book
Esther Glen Award 1973
A lion in the meadow
Esther Glen Award 1970