Orwin, Joanna

Orwin, Joanna

Information

residence
Canterbury
Primary publisher
Longacre Press, HarperCollins, New Holland Publishers

In Brief

Joanna Orwin writes books for adults and children. She has a background in ecology and science editing and her stories often focus on New Zealand flora and fauna. She also draws extensively on Māori mythology and her interest in New Zealand’s cultural heritage. Orwin won the Children's Book of the Year Award for The Guardian of the Land (1985), and Owl (2001) was the Senior Fiction category winner for the 2002 New Zealand Post Children's Book Awards. Her book Riccarton and the Deans Family: History and Heritage was shortlisted for the 2016 New Zealand Heritage Book and Writing Awards. Orwin participates in the Writers in Schools programme.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joanna Orwin is a writer for children and adults. Her fiction and non-fiction books share a focus on New Zealand's natural environment, Maori history and mythology, and European history.

'The 1000 years of Maori occupation provide us with a rich heritage of story and belief that cries out to be woven into our literature,' she writes.

Orwin's background is in the natural sciences, and she has worked as a plant ecologist and science editor. She now works as a freelance writer and editor on interpretation projects with a focus on natural and cultural heritage.

Her first book for children is Ihaka and the Summer Wandering (1983), which was followed by Ihaka and the Prophecy (1984); The Guardian of the Land (1985), which was awarded the 1986 Childrens Book of the Year Award; Watcher in the Forest (1987); and Tar Dragon (1997).

Owl (Longacre Press, 2001) is a young adult novel based on the Waitaha legend of the Pouakai, a ferocious giant eagle. Owl was awarded Best in Senior Fiction at the 2002 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, now known as the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and was also listed as a 2002 Storylines Notable Senior Fiction Book.

Out of Tune (Longacre Press, 2004) was a finalist in the Young Adult Fiction Category for the 2005 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults, and made the 2005 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction list.

The Guardian of the Land was republished in 2005 by HarperCollins as a Collins Modern New Zealand Classic.

Orwin's Kauri In My Blood: The Diary of Laura Ann Findlay, the Coromandel, 1921-24 (Scholastic, 2007) is part of the My Story series, and tells the story of a childhood lived in the logging camps of Kauaeranga Valley near Thames. This a fictionalised story, based closely on the true story told to Joanna Orwin by Ruth Mickey Murray.

Orwin's two non-fiction titles for adults are Four Generations from Maoridom: The Memoirs of Syd Cormack As Told to Joanna Orwin (1997) and Kauri: Witness to a Nation’s History (2004). She won awards in history towards the writing of both these titles. She has contributed articles for 'The Bush', in Te Ara, the New Zealand on-line Encyclopaedia.

In 2009 Orwin released Collision, a historical novel for adults. This is a fictionalised account of Marion du Fresne’s French expedition to the Bay of Islands in 1772, told from the perspectives of a seventeen-year-old French ensign and the later recorded memories of a Maori youth present at the time.

Joanna Orwin was the 2009 recipient of the University of Otago College of Education Children’s Writing Fellowship.

In 2011 Orwin released the post-apocalyptic young adult book Sacrifice (HarperCollins). The book was a finalist for the 2012 New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults (now New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults). It also made the 2012 Storylines Notable Young Adult Fiction List . Trevor Agnew reviewed the book for Agnew Reading and said ‘Although Sacrifice is a lively adventure story, it is also a mature, thought-provoking novel.’

Orwin released Riccarton and the Deans Family: History and Heritage (Bateman Publishing) in 2015. It is a non-fiction book that explores the natural and social history of Canterbury. It was shorlisted for the 2016 New Zealand Heritage Book and Writing Awards.

Joanna Orwin has had short stories published in several anthologies for children, including Down to the Sea Again (HarperCollins, 2005) and the 2016 Gecko Press Annual.

MEDIA LINKS AND CLIPS

  • Joanna Orwin's profile on Penguin site
  • Joanna Orwin's profile on Goodreads site
  • Joanna Orwin's profile on Storylines site
  • Joanna Orwin's Otago University Burns Fellowship recipient profile
  • An interview with Joanna Orwin on the Christchurch City Library website.
  • An article on Joanna Orwin’s involvement in the 2012 Interpretation Network New Zealand Spring workshop
  • New Zealand Children’s Book Reviews interview with Joanna Orwin
  • Joanna Orwin's profile on Hooked on Books NZ

Updated January 2017.