I'm deeply saddened to hear that one of New Zealand's greats, Margaret Mahy, passed away today. I'm sure there will be many, many people out in Aotearoa sad to hear this news, for Mahy has been one of our greatest children's writers for more decades than I've been alive. If you will indulge me, I would like to share with you what Margaret Mahy meant to me.
Although I am NZ-born I was not quite NZ-raised. We lived in England for 9 years during my childhood, and when we returned to NZ I found myself a Kiwi with little knowledge of what it was to be a Kiwi. Being a bookish child, naturally my solution to this problem was to read all of the books in the library written by Kiwis. As you do. I scoured the shelves for that little koru sticker on the spines that indicated a New Zealand book. When I found a Kiwi author whose work I enjoyed, I got all her books out of the library and read them one after another. One of those authors was Sheryl Jordan, another was Caroline MacDonald. And one was Margaret Mahy. Of the three authors named, Mahy's works were the ones that taught me most about what it is to be a Kiwi.
Thank you, Margaret, for making my reintroduction to NZ culture easier. I appreciated it then, and I appreciate it now. Rest in peace.