Lyttleton 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, Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti announced today.
A poet and award-winning author, Ben Brown writes books, non-fiction and short stories for children and adults many of which have strong New Zealand nature themes, and explore the complexities of youth justice in Aotearoa.
“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,” Jan Tinetti said.
“This Government is committed to laying the foundations for a better future and reading can play a vital role in this.
“Ben’s extensive experience as a writer means he is a great person to inspire tamariki and whānau, and to promote the importance of reading.
“It is so important for us to find ways to support educators, families and whānau to build and sustain reading cultures in their communities – which at the same time contributes to the Government’s wider efforts on child wellbeing and poverty reduction.
The most recent OECD Programme for International Students assessment (PISA) results also show a marked decline in reading for pleasure, with nearly half of New Zealand 15-year olds never reading for enjoyment.
“Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador builds on existing National Library and in-school initiatives to encourage children to read for pleasure – like Reading Together, Writers in Schools, and the Pacific Early Literacy Programme. Te Awhi Rito Reading Ambassador builds on the National Library’s reading initiatives and the work of Services to Schools, along with existing programmes of other organisations including Te Awhi partners Storylines Trust and Read NZ.
“I want to extend my warmest congratulations to Ben and his whānau,” Jan Tinetti said.