An Opotiki author has been named among the five finalists in the picture book category of the 2016 New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Nikki Slade Robinson's book The Little Kiwi's Matariki is also a finalist.
Nikki Slade Robinson's book The Little Kiwi's Matariki is also a finalist.

Nikki Slade Robinson's book The Little Kiwi's Matariki was yesterday announced as a finalist in the competition.

She is one of 28 finalists selected out of the 154 entries submitted across six categories.

Mrs Slade Robinson, who was born in Te Puke, said she was "stoked" to learn she had been named as a finalist although it had been hard keeping it a secret until the announcement was made.


The idea for the book had been floating around in her head for about three months before it all fell together, she said.

"I really wanted to do something around Matariki and I really wanted to work in the native birds because we have so many native birds around here."

She wrote and illustrated the tale over a couple of months.

"It was a lot of burning the midnight oil," Mrs Slade Robinson said.

The book tells the story of a little kiwi who is asleep in its burrow when he is woken by the moon shining in and "usually the moon doesn't shine in", she said.

Once awakened, the little kiwi runs around waking up his other animal friends from their midwinter slumber and leads them to the beach just in time to see the constellation of Matariki rise for the first time in the northeastern sky.

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Meanwhile, Taupo author Donovan Bixley's illustrated book Much Ado About Shakespeare is a finalist for the Russell Clark Illustration Award.

"It's a real thrill to have a book that took me 10 years to make recognised. There were so many times during the 10 years I thought, 'this is never going to happen, it's a dead duck in the water'," he said.

By the end of the year Mr Bixley would have written 100 books but this was his favourite, which made the award particularly satisfying, he said.

"Being nominated for an award is a really nice feather in the cap."

The book, aimed at a more adult audience, is an illustrated biography of Shakespeare told in the Bard's own quotes.

Mr Bixley first had the idea about 20 years ago before he started writing or illustrating.

He decided he was going to write illustrated biographies of his three favourite people in the three major arts - Shakespeare, Mozart and Leonardo da Vinci.

With two down, he is starting to turn his attention to da Vinci which he hopes to launch to coincide with the 500th anniversary of his death in 2019.