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Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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First Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador announced

May 6, 2021

You may have seen the press release sent out from Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti’s office this week announcing that Lyttelton writer Ben Brown (Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Koroki, Ngāti Paoa) will be New Zealand’s first Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador, promoting the value of reading for children and young people.

The appointment was announced by the Minister during a moving ceremony at the National Library in Wellington on Tuesday night. Images from the event are attached. Please note these are released under creative commons 4.0 attribution license, please attribute to National Library and Mark Beatty as photographer.

Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador

Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador is a new role established by Te Puna Mâtuaranga National Library of New Zealand that will support and champion the importance of reading in the lives of young New Zealanders, their whânau and communities.

Reading for pleasure makes a huge difference to a child’s wellbeing and their potential for life-long success – in education, health, personal relationships, and employment.

“We believe Ben is the right person to inspire, empower and mobilise powerful, positive reading experiences for children, young people, whânau, and communities in Aotearoa New Zealand,” said Rachel Esson, Te Pouhuaki National Librarian.

“It feels like I’ve spent the last 30 years of my life writing, telling stories, working with kids to tell theirs, shouting poetry from the parapets, just to get to this place, this moment of being able to advocate for and promote engagement with the universe of possibilities presented to us by the simple act of reading, of exploring stories built with words. We are given to see the story in things, stories make sense of it all. I’m honoured and humbled to be allowed to take on this mahi,” Ben Brown said.

Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador will build the appreciation and growth of stories and literature that reflect Aotearoa New Zealand, including increased creation of and access to reading resources in te reo Mâori and the diverse languages and cultures of Aotearoa.

The National Library of New Zealand leads the initiative, Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Ambassador, in partnership with Te Puna Foundation, Read New Zealand Te Pou Muramura, Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa and Storylines Children’s Literature Charitable Trust Te Whare Waituhi Tamariki o Aotearoa.

Find out more about the Te Awhi Rito New Zealand Reading Ambassador.

Contact details

To arrange an interview with Ben contact or call DIA media on +64 27 535 8639


Ngâ mihi,

Media team
Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs
Media phone | +64 27 535 8639