Notable for her Carnegie Medal-winning young adult books The Changeover and The Haunting, Mahy also penned the classic and widely-translated works The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate and A Lion in the Meadow.
After studying at both Auckland University College and Canterbury University College, she trained as a librarian and was eventually hired as the Canterbury Public Library's head Children's Librarian.
Her numerous literary honors include the 2006
She and her four younger siblings were raised in Whakatane, New Zealand. She later settled in Canterbury, New Zealand, with her two daughters (whom she raised alone).
She and Joy Cowley are both well-known children's authors from New Zealand.