Meet the team
Before joining the Book Council in May 2017, Jo was the Chief Executive of the Ministry for Women (2012-2016) and, before that, Deputy Children’s Commissioner. Being Chief Executive of the Book Council brilliantly combines her two enthusiasms – leading a well-respected organisation into a new era of promoting social, cultural and economic well-being through reading, and supporting our renowned New Zealand writers.
Kathryn’s first job out of school was as a bookseller, and despite a slight change in career path where she thought she was going to be an accountant, has been working with bookish organisations ever since. Most recently, Kathryn has completed a decade with the New Zealand Festival looking after their biennial Writers Week programme. When she’s not working she enjoys… reading.
Communication and Engagement Manager
Melissa has worked as a journalist and writer for a number of years and has a background in the arts. She has a keen interest in books of all kinds, especially those relating to textile crafts and art, but also memoirs and children's books. She likes walking along the wild Wellington coastline, and having coffee and cake with friends.
Corporate Services Manager
Tanya has worked in corporate finance and administration for over 20 years in the areas of health, education, aviation and construction. She has a keen interest in children reading which started at a very young age when she was determined to get her three-year-old sister reading. In her spare time Tanya practices yoga and mindfulness, enjoys walking her dog around Wellington’s rugged south coast and catching up with friends.
Chair / Elected 2010
Peter Biggs, CNZM
PETER BIGGS CNZM
Peter Biggs is National CEO of leading advertising and innovation agency, Assignment Group.
With his wife, Mary, he is a significant supporter of the arts in New Zealand – particularly of literature, theatre and music.
They have funded the Biggs Family Prize in Poetry at Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters since 2006, along with the Alex Scobie Research Prize in Classical Studies, Latin and Greek. They have been consistent supporters of the International Festival of the Arts, the Auckland Writers Festival, Wellington’s Circa Theatre, the New Zealand Arts Foundation (Peter is a Trustee), Featherston Booktown (Peter is Chair and Mary is a Board member), the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (Peter is a Board member), the Featherston Sculpture Trust and the Kokomai Arts Festival in the Wairarapa.
Peter was Chair of Creative New Zealand from 1999 - 2006. He led the Cultural Philanthropy Taskforce in 2010 and the New Zealand Professional Orchestra Sector Review in 2012. Peter was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for arts governance and philanthropy in 2013.
Peter was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) in 2013 for services to philanthropy and arts governance.
He has a first class honours degree in English Literature and Latin from Victoria University of Wellington.
Selina Tusitala Marsh
Selina Tusitala Marsh is a poet of Samoan, Tuvaluan, English and French descent. Her poetry is published in over 67 anthologies, academic texts, print and online literary journals, and translated into Ukraine, Spanish and Italian.
She was the first person of Pacific descent to graduate with a PhD in English from the University of Auckland, where she now lectures in both creative writing and Māori and Pacific literary studies.
The NZ Listener has described her as the ‘vanguard of contemporary Pacific Literature’ and ‘one of the most important poetic voices of her generation’. Selina was the 2016 Commonwealth Poet. Selina’s first award-winning poetry collection, Fast Talking PI (Auckland UP, 2009) won the NZSA Jesse Mackay First Best Book Award. Her second poetry collection, Dark Sparring (Auckland UP, 2013) received critical acclaim. Selina delivered the 2016 New Zealand Book Council Lecture Tala Tusi: The Teller is the Tale. You can find out more about Selina in her writers file.
Gavin Bishop ONZM
Gavin Bishop (Ngāti Pūkeko, Ngāti Mahuta, Pākehā) is a children’s writer of international as well as local reputation. As a picture book author and artist he has published over 50 books that have been translated into eight languages and won numerous awards. He has also written the libretti for two children’s ballets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
Gavin is a founding member of the Te Tai Tamariki Trust for the Preservation of New Zealand Children’s Literature, established in Christchurch in 2006. In 2009 the Storylines Gavin Bishop Award for Illustration was established by Random House.
Brian is the Executive Director of Shoreline Partners Ltd which provides Corporate Finance, Strategic Planning and Governance services. He worked in Central and Western Europe and Asia before returning to Aotearoa in 1999.
Brian studied Arts (English Literature) and Business at Victoria University, Wellington. He serves on a number of company boards whose focus includes film technology, iwi, education and fundraising. He is a recently retired cricketer and a keen supporter of Aotearoa theatre. He enjoys reading and exploring cultures new to him.
Mark Fairey is General Manager, Finance and Administration of Workbridge Inc. He has a diverse background, working in senior management and finance roles with companies in the energy, technology, primary and investment areas.
He has a Bachelor of Commerce and Administration from Victoria University of Wellington, is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants and completed the Advance Management Programme at Melbourne Business School.
Paora Tibble is the reo Māori writer at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand. Passionate about reading, Paora has a special interest in young adult fiction.
For ten years, Paora was an editor of Māori language resources at Learning Media Ltd. He has edited reo Māori journals such as He Kohikohinga, Te Tautoko and Te Wharekura. Paora was the inaugural Kapiti Island writer in residence 2008. His book, Ko Anu me Ōna Hoa is popular amongst kura kaupapa Māori children. Paora’s iwi are Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, Ngāti Tūwharetoa me Ngāti Raukawa.
Julia Marshall is the founder and publisher of Gecko Press, international publishers of curiously good children’s books since 2004.
Previously she worked in Sweden for 12 years at Appelberg Publishing Agency, a leading Swedish publisher of multi-language company magazines and web communication.
She also translates children’s books from Swedish to English. Julia represents the Publishers Association New Zealand (PANZ).
Bookselling claimed Juliet in her early 20s when she took a part time role at Bennetts Government Bookshop in Bowen House. In mid-1999 she took up a role at the then VUBC as Textbook Buyer, and in 2001 she became General Manager. Now Vic Books, the company has responded to changes in the textbook market by incorporating cafes into both of their sites, and more recently a bar at their Pipitea site, driving community engagement and growing their business outside of traditional channels. Juliet is also a Booksellers NZ Director.
Peter Vial is the New Zealand Country Head of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ). He is a chartered accountant and lawyer. Prior to joining CAANZ he was a director at PwC and an Associate Professor in the University of Auckland's Business School. Peter teaches on the University's Masters of Taxation Studies programme and is a contributing author to two leading tax textbooks. In the 1990s he worked for Tradenz for 6 years, including a three year stint as New Zealand’s Trade Commissioner to Germany. He has a Masters in Law from the University of Bonn, Germany.