Avis Acres (1910-1994) was a New Zealand artist, writer and illustrator who, during the 1950s, produced a number of popular children's picture books. Of these, her three Hutu and Kawa stories with their distinctive and beautiful illustrations of the native forest and its inhabitants, are the most well-known and beloved.
Avis was born in Wellington in 1910 and was the eldest of four siblings. The family moved to Auckland when Avis was three years old, and the homes she grew up in always had beautiful gardens that she credited with inspiring her lifelong interest in nature. Though she was an able student, in her early teens Avis had to leave school to work and contribute to the household income. She then held a variety of jobs, all of which made the most of her interest in art and writing, and wrote columns and illustrated various comic series for local newspapers. She also took drawing classes at night school. In 1935 Avis married Bob Acres. They moved to Hamilton and Avis started exhibiting and selling her paintings. In 1950 she and Bob moved to Taupo, where Avis first dreamed up the characters of Hutu and Kawa. The Pohutukawa Babies were modelled on a book published three decades earlier, Gumnut Babies by Australian writer and artist May Gibbs. Avis was soon writing a highly popular children's comic strip, 'The Tale of Hutu and Kawa',