Over her career she has picked up a swag of awards, including the Aim Supreme Award and Senior Fiction Award in 1996, while in 2007 she took out the Junior Fiction Category of the New Zealand Post Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.
Her latest accolade though has, in Marriott’s own words, “bowled [her] over.”
On April 8, Marriott, a former teacher, was presented with the 2018 Storylines Margaret Mahy Medal, an annual recognition awarded for distinguished contribution to and lifetime achievement in New Zealand children’s literature.
“I was just completely astonished,” Marriott laughs, “in a good way!”
One way to gauge her contribution to New Zealand’s literature scene is to measure the number of people who can still name her stories.
Her first three novels, she says, are still requested by schools when she does visits.
“People seem to really like those books!” she exclaims.
Marriott initially began publishing books “to help children learn to read.”
“And then I just kept producing children’s books, usually they’re funny ones, but then there were a couple of very serious ones.
“One was about whaling in the time of Shackleton and the exploration of Antarctica, and another serious one was about a girl losing her eyesight,” she says.
Marriott also produced songs for New Zealand school children – Kiwi Kidsongs – for 15 years.
“Kiwi Kidsongs started off ... 20, maybe even 25 years ago, and it was a government thing...a Ministry of Education thing,” she explains.
“They decided that what New Zealand needed was its own songs for kids, because we just didn’t seem to have any, which is very sad.
“I’ve always been an audio producer, you see...and so when I came to New Zealand, I got various recording jobs, and I actually started out in New Zealand with the idea that I was going to be a teacher.
"I qualified as a teacher and I started as a teacher, and then one day this guy came into my classroom and said 'we’ve been reading your CV and we hear you’ve got this radio experience, can you come and work producing resources for schools, audio ones'.
“I moved into that and I built up a team of people ... an excellent sound engineer who I could argue with and talk with and we got on, and a whole cast of very, very good singers who I knew were reliable and could show up at the studio and make fools of themselves singing songs.
“So I did that for 15 years!
“In fact, it’s a very funny thing to say … but, if you get a lot of New Zealanders together at a party, and they’re sort of 30 years old or around that kind of age, the thing that will link them all together, is the Kidsongs that they know,” she says.
Marriott also did some work on children’s television program The WotWots, which she describes as “interesting… because it didn’t use any words, they just said funny noises and things!”
Now a proud and doting grandmother, Marriott spends most of her time at home, teaching in a different way: mentoring and tutoring other writers.
“I’ve always been huge on teaching other people how to write.
“And quite a few of my students have been successful, have won prizes and things which gives me heaps of pleasure.
"In fact it gives me more pleasure than if I did ... I think I’m a born teacher,” she says.
“I also recognise that there are just so many people out there who have wonderful stories to tell and I get a lot of pleasure out of helping them, I really do.
“And I think I’m good at it so that gives me satisfaction and we all need to feel we’re good at something I think!”
Marriott says authors of works for children need to think about the challenges facing their young audience.
“The weather is up and down at the moment, the future will be up and down, children, people who are children now, will have a much more uncertain future than we’ve ever had, and that’s an important thing to consider when we’re writing for children.
“We have to make them aware of how they can be independent and how they can be thoughtful and how they can do the right thing, whatever the right thing will be when they’re older.”
She says she enjoys writing for kids because they keep her honest.
“If they don’t like a story...they’ll tell you, won’t they?
“So I feel quite honoured that they like my stories.
“And there’s a little series of books for five and six-year-olds that has come out in the last few years here, so all children in New Zealand who are learning to read are going to have these stories in their classroom.
"That means that when I go and pick my grandson up from school, all these kids come round me and they think that I’m as famous as the Kardashians or something!
“It’s quite funny. It’s just a different world, and I like it!
“It’s such an honest, pure, happy world, the world of kids.”