Calling all writers

New Zealand writer Catherine Chidgey.

A new national short story competition has been launched encouraging aspiring authors to put pen to paper.

The Sargeson Prize is The University of Waikato’s new competition where the overall winners will be awarded $5000.

The Sargeson Prize is the brainchild of eminent New Zealand writer Catherine Chidgey, who is a lecturer in Writing Studies at the University. With the Katherine Mansfield Short Story Awards having disappeared from New Zealand’s literary landscape, Catherine saw both a gap and an opportunity for a new, significant national competition for New Zealand writers.

There are many benefits for writers in entering short story competitions, Catherine says, including, of course, the substantial prize money.

“For new writers it’s a chance to build a writing profile, which can prove key to being picked up by a publisher or an agent later on,” says Catherine.

“For established writers it also provides valuable publicity and recognition. And of course, many writers find real motivation in having to work to a deadline.”

Catherine will also act as Chief Judge for the Prize in 2019, a role which will be undertaken by a different prominent New Zealand writer each year. The winning story will be published in Landfall, New Zealand’s longest-running literary journal, and the top three stories will later be published in Mayhem.

There will also be a Secondary Schools Division where a student can receive a $500 cash prize and the opportunity to take up a one-week summer residency at the University of Waikato, with accommodation and meals provided, along with mentorship from postgraduate writing students and Writing Studies staff. The winning story will also be published in Mayhem.

The Prize is named after Frank Sargeson, one of New Zealand’s most esteemed short-story writers and novelists. Credited with bringing the working class New Zealand voice into literature, Hamilton-born Sargeson and the University of Waikato have a longstanding connection, celebrated each year (since 2009) with the Frank Sargeson Memorial Lecture, hosted jointly with the Friends of Hamilton Public Library.

Entries to the Sargeson Prize are open now until June 30. For more information please visit the Sargeson Prize online or on Facebook, or email

Winners and place-getters will be contacted by September 15 2019, and prizes will be awarded at the 2019 Frank Sargeson Memorial Lecture.

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