NZSA President – Mandy Hager
Mandy Hager is a multi-award-winning writer of fiction, predominantly for young adults. In 2019 she was awarded the Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, for life-time achievement and a distinguished contribution to New Zealand’s literature for young people. She has won the LIANZA Book Awards for Young Adult fiction three times, the 2009 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards for YA fiction, a 1996 Honour Award, and six Notable Book Awards. Her historical novel for adults ‘Heloise’ was longlisted for the 2017 Ockham Awards and she also writes non-fiction and educational resources.
She has also been awarded the 2012 Beatson Fellowship, the 2014 Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship, the 2015 Waikato University Writer in Residence and the 2017 D’Arcy Writer’s Grant. She has tutored the novel for Whitireia’s Creative Writing Course for ten years, is a trained teacher and has an MA in Creative Writing. She has been a school trustee and was a board member of Dare Foundation for two years.
Cristina Sanders – Central Districts Regional Delegate
Cristina Sanders lives in Hawke’s Bay, writes NZ colonial fiction and short stories and has a Graduate Diploma in Creative Writing. Jerningham, her novel on the founding of Wellington, is due for publication soon, and she is currently working on a YA series. She grew up in Wellington’s Gateway Bookshop and has worked in libraries, for Collins Publishers NZ, Hodder & Stoughton UK and Booksellers NZ. She’s run two start-ups, worked in marketing and digital media, and teaches ESL to adult immigrants. In her spare time she studies history, runs hills and writes a book review blog.
Susan Battye – Vice President Northern Districts Regional Delegate
Christchurch born, Susan Battye is an Auckland based educational consultant, playwright, teacher, editor, author and developer of children’s books, short stories and educational e and print based resources.
She has written many plays including; The Shadow of the Valley (with Thelma Eakin, OUP 1980), Living In, The Singing Lesson, Easy as Pie, (Longman Paul), Back Where You Belong (Meriwether USA), Jigsaw (Harcourt Reed NZ). Her dramatic sketch, Kiwis in Paradise was a finalist in the USA 2016 ‘Saving Endangered Species’ International Playwriting Competition. Her award winning short story, Mocked was published by NZSA Top in Horizons 3 (2017).
In addition to her educational titles for NCEA English, Social Studies and Drama with Sigma Publications, User Friendly Resources and ESA Publications, Battye has authored two novels in the Scholastic My Story New Zealand series: The Mine’s Afire! (with Thelma Eakin), shortlisted for the 2010 NZ Post Children’s Book awards and Cup Magic.
Philippa Werry – National Board Delegate
Philippa Werry is a children’s writer who began her career writing for the School Journal. Since then, her non-fiction, stories, plays and poems have been widely published and several of her children’s novels and non-fiction titles have been shortlisted for book awards or named as Storylines Notable Books. Philippa lives in Wellington; she is an online writing tutor, maintains several blogs and visits schools around the country as part of the Writers in Schools programme.
Sudha Rao – Regional Delegate for Wellington
Originally from South India, Sudha migrated to Dunedin with her parents when her father took up a position at the Medical School, University of Otago. Sudha is a University of Otago graduate. Sudha’s long standing involvement with the arts was primarily as a dancer, trained in Classical South Indian dance. Sudha has been a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Sudha has been writing since early 1970’s during her time at Kalakshetra (School of Classical Arts), Madras, South India gaining a degree in Bharata Natyam (Classical South Indian Dance).
She moved to Wellington in 1994 to establish Dance Aotearoa New Zealand (DANZ). In addition to a 2004 Masters in Public Management degree, in 2017, Sudha graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, both from Victoria University, Wellington. Since 2012, Sudha’s poems have appeared in various journals and anthologies. These include in a New Zealand anthology of migrant voices called More of us published in March 2019; Landfall, Otago University, Dunedin (2018); in the UK anthology Poets’ quest for God (2016); an anthology of New Zealand writing, Sunset at the Estuary (2015); and two editions of Blackmail Press (2012 and 2014). In 2014, one Sudha’s poems was on the Bridport Poetry Competition’s long list. Excerpts of her prose work, has appeared in Turbine (2018) which comprised part of her MA thesis Margam and other excerpts (essays) were read in two sessions on national radio RNZ (2018). In 2019, Sudha was invited to participate in an International Poetry festival in her hometown, Bengaluru in Karnataka State, India. One of her poems in this collection will appear in the New Zealand anthology Ko Aotearoa Tatou in October 2020.
Sudha is part of a collective of Wellington women poets called Meow Gurrrls, who regularly post poems on YouTube. Sudha has recently submitted a complete manuscript of poems to Victoria University for their consideration. Meow Gurrrls are finalising their first zine Meowing Part 1, which will be available in August 2020. Sudha is currently exploring the possibility of creating dance-poems based on a suite of poems she wrote as part of her MA thesis in 2017.
Heather McQuillan – Canterbury and Top of South Regional Delegate
Heather is the director at Write On School for Young Writers in Ōtuatahi/Christchurch. She has a background in teaching and began her writing career by winning the Storylines Tom Fitzgibbon Award. All three of Heather’s novels for young readers (Mind Over Matter 2006, Nest of Lies 2011, and Avis and the Promise of Dragons, 2019) have been awarded Storylines Notable Books. An, as yet unpublished, YA manuscript was a finalist in the Tessa Duder Award, 2018 and was awarded an NZSA mentorship. Heather hasn’t given up on it but it has joined a number of other ‘Works in Progress’.
In 2015, Heather moved away from fulltime teaching and took up tutoring with Write On, a Master of Creative Writing at Massey University, and writing poetry and flash fiction. In 2016 she won both the National Flash Fiction Day prize and the Micro Madness competition. Heather has had stories selected for the International Best Small Fictions in 2017, 2019 and 2020, Best Microfiction 2019 and was a 2018 Meniscus and Australian CAL Best Prose Prize winner. Her first collection of flash fiction Where Oceans Meet was published in the UK in 2019.
Heather has had a long connection with the NZ Literacy Association and was recipient of the Marie Clay Literacy Trust Travel Award in 2016. As well as teaching writing to young people she regularly presents to teacher groups. Heather enjoys being part of the supportive Ōtautahi/ Christchurch writing community and has a special interest in developing opportunities for young writers.
Vanda Symon – Otago/Southland Regional Delegate
Vanda is the Author of the Detective Sam Shephard crime fiction series and the stand alone thriller The Faceless. She is a three time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Fiction novel. A Dunedin resident, Vanda produces and hosts a monthly radio show for the Otago Southland NZSA called Write On, broadcast on Otago Access Radio, and is a regular reviewer for National Radio. Among the many roles she enjoys, Vanda is a writing mentor for the NZSA and she was the Chair of Copyright Licensing New Zealand, where she served on the Board for four years.