Every year NZ Writers’ College hosts and sponsors our free-to-enter short story competition. Some of our finalists go on to win other short story competitions, like the prestigious BNZ Katherine Mansfield Short Story Competition. As a finalist, being critiqued by a panel of six award-winning writers is one of the benefits of entering.

This year, we’re looking for more winning entries – stories that are quirky, adventurous, bold and push literary boundaries.

The contest is open to any emerging writer residing in New Zealand or Australia, who has had fewer than four stories/articles published in any format (print or digital, fiction  or non-fiction).


  • First Prize: $1 000.00 plus entry into one of our short courses
  • Second Prize: $ 500.00
  • People’s Choice Award $ 250.00

Top three entries will be published on our college site and the top five winners will receive editorial comments on their submitted works.

THEME: Breaking Out

DEADLINE: 30 September 2013

TO ENTER: Email your 2000-word story to Nichola at nichola@nzwriterscollege.co.nz


  • Entry is limited to New Zealand and Australian residents only.
  • Entrants must submit a story of maximum word count: 2000 words. Any entries exceeding the word count by 50 words will not be considered.
  • We aim to support and acknowledge beginner writers, so we only accept stories from writers who have been published fewer than four times, in any genre, fiction or non-fiction, in any publication (for payment or otherwise). This does not include articles for community or work newsletters where the circulation is under 1000.
  • Stories must not have been previously published. Entrants must own full copyright to the story submitted.
  • Only one story per entrant is allowed.
  • Only e-mail submissions are acceptable, with stories attached as Word Documents. Mark your entry clearly with the subject line: NZWC Annual Short Story Competition, and submit according to rules below.
  • If you have not received an acknowledgement of your submission within three days, please re-send your entry.
  • All submissions must be sent to Nichola Meyer: nichola@nzwriterscollege.co.nz


  • Your first page of your Word document must include the story title, your name, email address, and total number of words of the entry.
  • Do not include your name on any page of your story, except the title page. All entries will be judged blind.
  • Make sure your story has been edited and polished according to tips and guidelines provided on our college site under “Writing Resources”.

View our Archived Competition Entries Here


The top five entries will be assessed by our panel of award-winning writers. The 2013 judges are Sarah Lang, Paul Smith, Owen Bullock, Philippa Werry, Ginny Swart and Panni Palasti.

An award-winning feature writer, Sarah Lang began her career on staff at North & South magazine, and for the last five years has freelanced for around 20 publications including North & South, NZ House & Garden, Reader’s Digest, and Herald on Sunday magazine View.

Awards and nominations include: 2007 Qantas Media Awards: Human Relations winner, 2008 Qantas Media Awards: Science and Technology winner, 2008 Qantas Media Awards: Junior Magazine Feature Writer finalist, The Magazine Awards 2010: Journalist of the Year (Women’s Interest) finalist, The Magazine Awards 2011: Journalist of the Year (Home, Food & Garden) finalist, and The Magazine Awards 2011: Journalist of the Year (Lifestyle) finalist.

Originally from Wanganui, Sarah is a booklover with a BA in English Literature from Victoria University of Wellington and a Bachelor of Communications (journalism major) from AUT University. After 10 years in Auckland, she now lives in Wellington.

Paul Smith is a veteran journalist and author and former media commentator. He began his reporting career on the Auckand Star in 1964 and then went to London for three years to work on newspapers and magazines. He was a senior reporter for the New Zealand Herald, Dominion and the New Zealand Times.

Paul was New Zealand correspondent for the London Standard for 20 years, and the Sydney Morning Herald’s correspondent for five. As a freelancer his stories have appeared in magazines ranging from the Readers’ Digest to the Guardian and Asian Wall Street Journal. He specialised in media from 1988, beginning the country’s first Media Watch column for the National Business Review. He also became a long-serving correspondent for the show biz bible, Variety.

Paul is a winner of the Sir David Beattie Award for best news reporter in the print media, and a runner up in the 2002 Peace Awards. In 1986 he was awarded a Press Fellowship to Wolfson College Cambridge.

A past President of the New Zealand Society of Authors (PEN) he has written six best-selling non-fiction books, ranging from social histories to a text on the social impacts of broadcasting de-regulation. Paul has taught freelance and non-fiction writing at Auckland University’s summer schools for 18 years and was a non-fiction mentor for the Society of Authors. Paul lives in Auckland City.

Owen Bullock has published a collection of poetry, sometimes the sky isn’t big enough, (Steele Roberts, New Zealand, 2010); haiku: wild camomile (Post Pressed, Australia, 2009), and the novella, A Cornish Story (Palores, UK, 2010). His poetry and haiku have won numerous awards, including 2nd Prize in the New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition and Co-Winner of the Haiku International Association Competition, both 2009.

In 2012, Owen published his second collection of haiku, breakfast with epiphanies (Oceanbooks, NZ). He also edited Poetry NZ #45, and Building a time machine (New Zealand Poetry Society anthology), and was one of the editors of Take Five: Best Contemporary Tanka, Vol. IV. His fiction was recently featured in Takahe #77. Owen is on the International Editorial Board for Axon: Creative Explorations (University of Canberra).

Philippa Werry is the author of five published children’s novels and has written numerous children’s stories, plays, poems and articles for educational publishers. Her novel Enemy at the gate was shortlisted for the New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards in 2009.  The great chocolate cake bake off and A girl called Harry were both named as Storylines notable books. Her latest title is a children’s non-fiction book titled  Anzac Day: the New Zealand story: what it is and why it matters (New Holland, 2013.)

Philippa also writes travel articles and non-fiction for adults. She has been shortlisted three times for the Royal Society of New Zealand Manhire Creative Science Writing Prize, and won second prize in the 2011 Cultural Icons and Vernacular Lounge Non-Fiction Writing Competition.

In 2010, she was awarded the NZSA Mid-Careers Writers Award.

Ginny Swart has sold over 500 short stories to women’s magazines all over the world. On any day of every month she has at least 30 stories out there on editors’ desks. Her more serious work has appeared in literary publications in America, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and on the Web. She is also the author of three romance novels (Ulverscroft Press UK) and a book of short stories (Lulu.com) and a book for teenagers: Nosipho and the King of Bones (MacMillan Boleswa SA). She has an eBook available on Kindle called Something to Read, a collection of short stories. In 2003 Ginny won the esteemed UK The Real Writers’ Prize from over 4000 entrants.

Panni Palásti published and edited the Russell Review magazine for two decades and in 1977 started the Russell Writers’ Workshop that is still going and publishing its yearly the “Chalk and Cheese” collection of poetry and fiction.
In 2002 she moved to Nelson where she worked as assessor and editor for Maitai River Press, publisher of short stories and poetry.

Her poems and stories have been published in the US and New Zealand. Her poems appear regularly in Kiwiboomers.com and in Magyar Szó. She is the author of several books, including On the Road to Manapouri (Spectrum) and a poetry anthology Taxi!  Taxi!( Maitai River Press).
CRITIQUES: We unfortunately do not have the time to supply a critique for each submission. If you wish to receive a professional one- to two-page report of your work, please let us know in your email. We charge $45.00 per critique.


  • The competition is open to anyone residing in New Zealand and Australia over the age of 16.
  • The competition closes on 30 September 2013, and winners will be announced and displayed on our web site by 31 October 2013.
  • Prize-winners will be notified via email as well as on our website; please ensure you supply a valid email address with your entry.
  • Prize money will be paid via electronic transfer.
  • We only accept entries written in English.
  • Entrant must own full copyright of the piece.
  • Writers retain copyright, but give permission for their work to be displayed on our website.
  • The judges’ decision is final; no disputes will be entered into.
  • If your entry has not been acknowledged within 72 hours, please contact us. Your mail may have got lost in transit.
  • NZ Writers’ College reserves the right to extend the competition deadline, or cancel the competition should the entries not be of publishable quality or up to the required standard.


nichola2-lb  For any enquiries, phone Nichola Meyer at 09 550 4635 or email her at nichola@nzwriterscollege.co.nz.


Photo credit: blhphotography