Mary-anne Scott. Photo: Florence Charvin

Calling all schools and kōhanga reo, kindergartens and other pre-school learning environments across Hawke’s Bay.

If you have lost or had damage to any of your books, get in touch with a new initiative – Books Back Better – via  

Books Back Better is a fundraising initiative to help the recovery of school and pre-school libraries affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. It was started by Havelock North Children’s and Young Adult writer Mary-anne Scott. 

“A well-stocked library should be the beating heart of any learning environment for our tamariki,” says Mary-anne. 

Books Back Better aims to restock flood-damaged libraries like those at Omahu and Pakowai School in Hastings, kōhanga reo at Waiohiki and Tangoio, Hukarere School in Esk Valley and Nuhaka in Wairoa, as well as many other schools and pre-school learning environments in Wairoa and across Tairawhiti.

“We know there are a lot of pre-schools that have been affected,” says Mary-anne,  “and we’d like to hear from them.”

Monies raised by donating on the SLANZA website (School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) provide Book Seller Tokens so the affected libraries can use these to fill their shelves with books best-suited for their readers.

Mary-anne and a group of local Hawke’s Bay authors, school librarians and booksellers have teamed up with SLANZA and Booksellers Aotearoa NZ to create the Books Back Better project.  

SLANZA National President Sasha Eastwood says the tokens will give schools agency to purchase their own books with their community needs in mind. 

“We hope these books will give comfort to akonga/students as school communities work through recovering from the devastating damage of recent events.”   

Booksellers Aotearoa were also approached by Mary-anne and were keen to be involved.

 “The devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle has had impacts throughout New Zealand’s book-loving community, including several of our members.” says Dan Slevin, Booksellers Aotearoa CEO. 

“By channeling these generous donations through discounted Booksellers Tokens, our association can make a contribution to those schools, kohanga and kindies that have to rebuild their collections, and also support our members operating in affected communities in Northland, Auckland, Bay of Plenty, Tairāwhiti and Hawke’s Bay.” 

People can donate via the SLANZA website. Donations will be used to purchase Booksellers Tokens which will be distributed to kura/schools, kindergartens or kōhanga reo in Aotearoa New Zealand affected by Cyclone Gabrielle and who fit the project criteria via an application process. 

These tokens will enable the affected kura/schools to purchase new books from local booksellers to replace those damaged. Booksellers Aotearoa are supplying the tokens at a 20% discount off face value. 

Join today by donating to Books Back Better via  

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  1. What about books that have been lost from inundated homes? Is there a collection point anywhere for second hand books? I personally have a collection of good recipe books superfluous to requirement and very happy to rehome them for those who might like or need them.

  2. What a brilliant idea, will gladly donate , cannot imagine being without books , noticed an earlier post re: books in homes, I have noticed a lot of the care packs for the children who lost their homes do have books in them, but could always do with more.

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