World Final Of Kids’ Lit Quiz Due To Be Held In NZ Cancelled Due To Coronavirus
The World Final of Kids’ Lit Quiz, due to be held in New Zealand in July, has been cancelled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The world’s brightest young readers were due to descend on Southwell School in Hamilton in July, however the threat of COVID-19 is such that organisers felt they could not proceed safely.
Kiwi quizmaster Wayne Mills started Kids’ Lit Quiz in a Hamilton community hall nearly 30 years ago and it has since grown to become the world’s largest literary event for children with heats across 11 countries.
The decision to cancel this year’s final was not made lightly, he says.
“This is the most difficult decision the Kids’ Lit Quiz New Zealand Board has ever had to make. We are hugely saddened by what has happened, but developments around the world have made it clear that hosting a World Final is simply too high a risk at this time. Our first priority is keeping the children, their families, the coaches, the community and New Zealand safe.”
Mills says with COVID-19 spreading more widely there would have been the prospect of teams needing to be quarantined for two weeks upon arrival in New Zealand.
“Staying on at the boarding school where we were to be accommodated is not an option. The school requires the boarding house for their students who will be returning for the school term just two days after we were scheduled to depart.”
Parents had also expressed concerns about the virus and travelling during this period.
“We would have had children arriving from five continents, all exiting through different airports and all being potentially exposed to the virus and bringing it in to New Zealand,” says Mills.
The cancellation of other major events around the world was taken into consideration.
“We were concerned that if the COVID-19 situation worsened then cancellation would have had to have been made at a much later stage and at considerable expense. In light of so many other events being cancelled and postponed worldwide, it is prudent to make this decision now.”
Postponement was not an option due to the differences in school year between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
The national competition in New Zealand will still go ahead, however, with the first three of 14 heats completed in the South Island last week. The next round of heats begins in Northland on April 29 and the national final will go ahead in Wellington as planned on June 7.
Competitions have already been completed this year in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Thailand, Canada, United States, Nigeria and South Africa and other national competitions are still going ahead, with the Australian competition getting under way on March 13.
The Wright Family Foundation is the main sponsor of the New Zealand event and, for the third time since 2016, was financing the competitors’ accommodation, meals and excursions for the World Final in New Zealand.
CEO Chloe Wright says she feels a great sense of disappointment and grief for all who have worked so hard to make this World Final happen in New Zealand.
“We are all so proud to have the final in our country and from what I hear this is a favourite destination for the students and their supporters. The only decision that could be made, was made and we will all grieve and move forward.
“However, as in love, when we are left disappointed or exhausted, that is not a reason not to pick ourselves up and look to a better future. For me, Kids' Lit Quiz is a beacon of light spreading a glow over what is possible when children learn to love reading.”
Kids’ Lit Quiz encourages students aged 10-13 years to read for pleasure, widening their range of books and celebrating their knowledge.
Schools enter a team of four students who read their hearts out and train like athletes to compete in their regional final. The teams are asked questions from all forms of children’s literature, ranging from classics to the contemporary, from nursery rhymes to comics, and from folk tales to myths.
The event is huge fun and competitors are at the top of their field - kids who were “born to read,” says Mills.
“Kids still love books. As the pull of social media and other distractions is stronger than ever, reading can get overlooked and the value of reading for pleasure diminished. Kids’ Lit Quiz gives readers something to aim for and recognises their passion.”
Remaining heats of the New Zealand heats of Kids’ Lit Quiz will be held in: Northland (April 29), Auckland (May 4) Bay of Plenty (May 5) Waikato (May 6), Nelson/Marlborough (May 8), West Coast (May 11), Canterbury (May 13), Wellington (May 19), Manawatu (May 20), Hawke’s Bay (May 22), Taranaki/ Whanganui (May 28.) National Final: Wellington (June 7)
More detailed information about the heats can be found at www.kidslitquiz.com.