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Are you made of the write stuff? The Sunday Star-Times short story awards are back

Calling all creative minds - entries are now open for this year’s Sunday Star-Times short story awards.


The awards are among New Zealand’s most prestigious and established writing prizes and have helped launch the careers of many well-known writers.

The 2021 awards include an expanded list of categories: 

  • Open award (up to 3000 words)  - judged by poet and novelist Rosetta Allan.

  • Emerging Māori writer (up to 3000 words) - judged by renowned author Patricia Grace.

  • Emerging Pasifika writer (up to 3000 words) - judged by award-winning author Amy McDaid.

  • Best under-25 (up to 2000 words)  - judged by Tinderbox author Megan Dunn. 

Entries are judged anonymously, so the judges do not know who has written the pieces. The winning story (open category) will be published in the Sunday Star-Times and on Stuff

Sunday Star-Times editor Tracy Watkins said the awards, now in their 38th year, were poised to showcase some of New Zealand’s most exciting new writing talent, thanks to a $9000 prize pool, made possible with the support of new sponsor, the Milford Foundation.  

“The Milford Foundation coming on board, alongside our long-standing partner, Penguin Random House New Zealand, has helped reinvigorate the awards by broadening the categories to include the best emerging Māori and best emerging Pasifika writers,” Watkins said.

‘What makes these awards so special is the opportunity it offers to emerging writers to be exposed to a much bigger, and far broader audience than they would normally reach.”

Milford Foundation trustee Sarah Norrie said the foundation had a clear purpose to invest in the future of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“The short story is a challenging form – but proves something profound and enduring can be said in relatively few words. We think our purpose fits well with our support for the youth, Māori and Pasifika categories in this year’s competition.”

Penguin Random House New Zealand has been involved with the competition since 2005.

Publisher Harriet Allan said “We are proud to have published some of the country’s top writers of short stories, such as Owen Marshall, Fiona Kidman, Witi Ihimaera and Patricia Grace.

“A number of new writers who have won or been runners-up for the competition have gone on to become established writers, including Carl Nixon, Sarah Laing and Eileen Merriman.”

Last year’s awards attracted almost 700 entries. That number was expected to be surpassed this year, thanks to the additional categories which would encourage newer writers to have a go.

“We’re thrilled at the calibre of judges, and expect that to be another drawcard for aspiring writers,” Watkins said.

Entries are open until 11.59 pm on Friday, October 22nd. Award criteria and entry form can be found here. 


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22 Sep 2021