Children's author Joy Cowley tops New Year 2018 Honours list

Children's author Joy Cowley has topped the New Year Honours list this year, being granted the 'Order of New Zealand', the highest official honour in the nation.

The Order of New Zealand is bestowed for "outstanding service to the Crown and people of New Zealand in a civil or military capacity", with Ms Cowley being recognised for her services to literature, as one of our most prolific authors.

She told Newshub that the honour was a "lovely, lovely surprise" and the award was particularly meaningful, as "it was recognition from my own country".

The Order of New Zealand is not accompanied by a title, which suits Ms Cowley just fine, as she isn't comfortable with the idea of a title that would "separate her from other people".

Ms Cowley was born in Levin in 1936 and began her career writing novels for adults and published several during the 1970s, after her debut book 'Nest in a Falling Tree' in 1967.

But she is best known for children's books, such as 'Bow Down Shadrach', which she was inspired to write by her son.

Prolific in her output of educational books, Ms Cowley has helped write a staggering 1000 titles to assist in teaching school children literacy. Her books are renowned internationally and used in most American schools.

Ms Cowley has been highly acclaimed throughout her career, winning the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction in 2010 and the University of Alabama's Maryann Manning Award for Outstanding Literacy Scholar in 2011.

Despite earning our highest honour, Ms Cowley remains humble, insisting she is "a very ordinary person, who quite likes being ordinary".