The Winners


We are delighted to announce our winners in the 2019 NZ Writers College Short Story Competition.

The winning stories were original, authentic, thought-provoking and beautifully written.

Congratulations on an outstanding effort.



FIRST PLACE: ‘Meat' - by Nicky Taylor

RUNNER-UP: ‘The Long White Cloud’ - by Toakahu Pere

THIRD PLACE: 'Truth-Telling' - by Nicola Bentley


In fourth place is Haley Byrnes’ ‘I'd Know You Anywhere’.
‘Nothing's Normal’, written by Kate Railton-Jacks, placed fifth.

Read the judges' comments and the top three stories below the results lists.



Highest Honours


Congratulations to our winners of the Highest Honours Award. These polished stories narrowly missed being in the top five. The characters are authentic, plotlines are credible, and the storytelling is excellent. 

'Paramedic 101' - by Taemumu Richardson
'Stale' - by Penny Geddis
‘It Began the Day They Locked Everyone In’ - by Erica Stretton
'Stones' - by Kirsty Wadsworth
'Red Maple Syrup' – by Amalie Rupasinghe
‘The Lockdown Drill’ - by Kirsten Basse
‘Flightless' - by Justine Roberts
‘Eve’ - by R. L. Jeffs
‘The Bell Curve’ - by Christine Gore
'Chicken Livers' - by Emily Revell
'Perspective' - by Ken MacIver
‘Schrodinger's Trap’ - by C. M. Hay
‘Behind the Waterfall’ - by Stephanie Roberson
‘Who Could Have Known?’ – by Mike Wignall
'The Void' - by Cameron Gray









These were well-written stories with good plotlines and solid characters. Well done.

‘The School of Hard Knocks’ – by Monique Wiles
‘Libby's Night Out’ - by Lindsey Brown
‘Hurricane’ – by Megan Kemplay
'Latin Mass' – by Mereana Latimer
'The Baby' – by Mandy McMullin
'The End' - by Barbara Uini
‘Maya the Zombie Slayer!’ – by Emma Harris
‘Smile’ – by Sarah Bailey
‘A Creation Story’– by Ben Herriot
‘Baby’s Favourite Spot’– by Danny Bultitude
‘Birthday Cake Island’– by Brianna Brown
‘Dedication’– by Tabatha Wood
‘Give and Take’– by Rose Wunrow
‘I Know Him’– by Vanessa Scott
‘Kathy’s Song’– by Giselle Simoes
‘Kessler’s Revenge’– by Christopher Keene
‘The Out-Coming’– by Tavish Fraser






Honourable Mention

These stories held our attention and were enjoyable to read.


‘Choices’ – by Raphael van Workum
'Railroad Ruse'– by Sienna Williamson
‘Lucky’– by Tiffany Allan
‘Missing Pieces’ – by Ronnie Karadjov
'My Haunted House' – by Adam Slocombe
‘Barry’ - by Cameron Haworth
‘Memory and Forgetting’ – by Shea Fraser
‘Ophelia’s Secret Garden’ – by Yashmita Bharat
‘Scarlet’ – by Destiny Gleeson
‘Sky Lad’ – by Richard Brown
‘The Last Thursday’ – by Karen Martinez
‘The Way Home’ – by Ruth Plank

      More Stories We Loved

These stories show good potential. Next year we'd like to see the authors climbing up the results ladder.

'Karakia of the Rose' - by Jimin Seo
‘Opems’ – by Jack Sutherland
‘A Night Out With the Yakuza’– by Hugh Macleod
'Conversations' - by Millie Caughey
'Beyond the Gateway' - by Hideto Ambiguous
'Friendship' – by Connor Ure
‘Steven Red and the Crazy Cat Lady of the Apocalypse’ – by Mia Maramara
‘Home’ – by Diane Robinson
'The Library' - by Kate Twomey
‘The Yellow Raincoat’ - by Gemma Ngapo
‘2269: A New Earth’ – by Harry Allen
'The Pre-pubescent Dragon' - by Nicola Burton
‘Rice and Beans’ – by Matthew Armstrong
‘A Rainbow in the Sun’ – by Yasmin Sharp
'Out There' – by Nicholas Molhoek
‘Men Who Do Yoga’ – by Tom Adams
‘The Number on the Wall’ – by Veren Bartley
‘The Possum’ – by Kelly Jo Sweeney
‘Hine-nui-te-pō’ – by Sarah White
‘Culture Shock’ – by Gemma Thomas
‘The Gathering’ – by Corralie Betts
‘Falling’ – by Jacob Cone
‘Only Human’ – by Holly Endicott-Davies

Keep up the great writing! We look forward to hearing from you again for our 2020 NZ Writers College Short Story Competition.

The judges’ ratings and comments for the top three stories

A huge thank you to our judges this year: Sonny Whitelaw, Alexandra Smith, Andrew Salomon and Karen Jeynes.


First Place



by Nicky Taylor

NZ Writers College Short Story Writing CompetitionWinner-2018
Readability: Does it hold your attention? 17/20
Originality 20/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 17/20
Characterization 18/20
Imagery and use of language 19/20
Overall gut response to story 18/20

TOTAL 109/120


Judges’ comments
  • Great story and a fabulous twist I did not see coming. I know it's tempting to keep action in long sentences, so the reader is pulled along breathless. It would pay you to break long sentences into shorter ones. Reading literary fiction is like eating a fine meal. When sentences are too long, the reader feels like they're being forced to swallow huge mouthfulls of information before we've had a chance to taste each morsel. Break your sentences into smaller bites. Give the reader time to savour each moment. Sonny
  • Wow, this is a brutal story; it's told by a child narrator so there is a kind of lightness and naïve innocence. The child's point of view is utterly convincing and when it is revealed that she kills mice with her father's blade, one knows that something is not right and the character is heading for disaster. But even with that suspicion in mind, nothing can prepare one for the final horror. The author leaves the ending open – the reader might decide that the little girl doesn't get to the point of slaughtering herself before her father, perhaps, comes in to save her. The one point of question is that the whole final tragedy depends on the child's interpretation of what she overhears, the bleeding and mooncups etc is perhaps a little contrived. Would they have been talking about all that so overtly with the father already at this stage in the child's life? Wouldn't they have left it at 'women's stuff'? Alex
  • Narrated through a child's perception, this story packs a visceral punch and enfolds the reader in equal parts of hopefulness and despair. A deeply affecting story that stays with you long after reading. Andrew
  • Excellent, original storytelling. The story is told simply and starkly, and very effectively, with a raw emotional sense that is very compelling. Karen

Runner Up



'The Long White Cloud'

by Toakahu Pere

NZ Writers College Short Story Writing Competition Runner Up-2018
Readability: Does it hold your attention? 18/20
Originality 17/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 16/20
Characterization 17/20
Imagery and use of language 19/20
Overall gut response to story 16/20

TOTAL 103/120


Judges’ comments
  • So many wonderful elements combine in this story: powerful opening characterisation, perfectly executed imagery and other literary devices, great pace, flow, plot; everything about this story just…works. And it  resonates across time: you think you've go problems now; look what's looming on the horizon. Absoluely loved it. Well done. Sonny
  • What is so striking and transporting about this story is the atmosphere the author creates with a calm pace  - like time is slowed – and many exceptionally beautiful descriptions such as: 'But this one's cloak was different: a patchwork of dried flax, roughspun reeds and batwings.' It seems to take place in a gap between reality and dream. Alex
  • This story is characterised by a strong sense of historical authenticity - especially in the descriptions and dialogue, as well as the profound sense of the individual being swept up in the pitiless wave of history. Andrew
  • This does a great job of weaving together the old and the new, to create a story that feels authentic and contemporary. The writer has a great grasp of language, and how to use it evocatively. Karen

Third Place



'Truth Telling'

by Nicola Bentley


NZ Writers College Short Story Writing Competition Third Place-2018
Readability: Does it hold your attention? 18/20
Originality 15/20
Flow (Does the reader move smoothly through the story from point to point?) 16/20
Characterization 18/20
Imagery and use of language 17/20
Overall gut response to story 15/20

TOTAL 99/120


Judges’ comments
  • Little more attention to punctuation, specifically understanding clauses and how commas are used in compound sentences, would make it a little easier to follow in places. Sonny
  • The excellent first line of this story sums up so much of what makes this story so compelling: 'The fact that it had received 64 likes said a lot about the current stat of humanity.' The narrator's rage can be searingly witty but that dark humour masks a personal tragedy: the breakdown of her relationship due to the failure to have a child, the stresses of failed IVF etc. What comes across so well in this story is the bizarre state of social media – people posting their most intimate moments in the hopes of getting likes; and then the people who, like this narrator, in spite of themselves compulsively watch even if scrolling through images of other people's happiness causes them intense pain. The ingredients of a great story are here, but the order of events is confusing – it starts with Becky's pregnancy, but then moves back in time to the incident around Jules's baby shower. The non-chronological order of events creates unnecessary confusion. Alex
  • The pain of loss and abandonment is handled with great sensitivity in this story, and the reader feels true compassion for the character; a compassion made even more heartbreaking due to her keen self-awareness. Andrew
  • This is a strong story, humourously told, with engaging characterisation. I think that the ending falls a little flat after such a great build up, perhaps even it could end sooner, with the reveal. But excellent characters and storytelling. Karen


  • First Prize: $ 1 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Second Prize: $ 500.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Third Prize: $ 250.00
The top three winners will receive editorial comments on their submitted works.


"Nothing but hot air."

Now closed for entries
25 October 2018
10 November 2018

  • First Prize: $ 1 000.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Second Prize: $ 500.00 and publication in an anthology of winning stories
  • Third Prize: $ 250.00
The top three winners will receive editorial comments on their submitted works.


"Nothing but hot air."

Now closed for entries
25 October 2018
10 November 2018


  • We aim to support beginner writers. We only accept stories from writers who have never been published, or who have been published fewer than four times in any genre. This includes fiction and non-fiction, in any publication (for payment or otherwise). Journalists, copywriters or web writers must please not apply. People who made a living from writing at any point in their life (e.g. decades earlier) are also not eligible for entry. We make an exception for unpaid articles for community or work newsletters, or blogs, where the circulation is under 1000.
  • The competition is open to anyone living in New Zealand over the age of 16.
  • Entrants must submit a story of maximum word count: 2000 words. Any entries exceeding the word count by 50 words will not be considered.
  • Writers can interpret and represent the theme in any way they choose. Stories that appear to be entirely unrelated to the theme will not be considered. Writers must produce their own title.
  • Only one story per entrant is allowed.
  • We only accept entries written in English.
  • The competition closes at midnight on 30 September 2018. The longlist will be published by 25 October, and the winners announced and displayed on our website on Friday 10 November.
  • Prizewinners will be notified via email as well as on our web site; please ensure you supply a valid email address with your entry.
  • Prize money will be paid via electronic transfer.
  • Stories must not have been previously published. Entrants must own full copyright to the story submitted.
  • 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.
  • All submissions and enquiries can be sent to Nichola Meyer:
  • If your entry has not been acknowledged within three working days, please contact us as your email 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.

  • 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.
  • Each story must have a unique title. Do not use the theme as your title.
  • Your email must state the name of your story, as well as your name. E.g. 'Once Upon a Time' - by John Smith
  • State your word count in your email.
  • Do not include your name on any page of your story. All entries will be judged blind.
  • Use a font such as Arial or Times New Roman, size 12 or more. Use 1.5 or double spacing between lines. We prefer a clear line between paragraphs rather than indenting.
  • Make sure your story has been edited and polished according to tips and guidelines provided on our college site under “Writing Resources”, or on our webzine. Read these:

Guidelines to make your entry amazing! Read our archived winnning stories here



The top five entries will be assessed by our panel of award-winning writers.
Sonny Whitelaw has enjoyed a successful career as a writer for more than thirty years.  She won a Draco Award for her first novel, The Rhesus Factor and all eight of her novels including five based on the television series, Stargate, have been international bestsellers. Read more here.

Karen Jeynes   Karen Jeynes is the head writer for Both Worlds Productions, overseeing ZANews: Puppet Nation (winner of 22 SAFTAs, two WGSA awards for Best TV Comedy, and two time International Emmy Nominee for Best TV Comedy), as well as Point of Order (SAFTA winner for Best Game Show in 2017), Comedy Central News, and Parlement Parlement, and other projects in development.

Karen also freelances for online and print media, and lectures and consults in Digital Culture and playwrighting.

Read more about Karen here.
Alex Smith is the author of five novels, Algeria's Way, Drinking from the Dragon's Well,  Four Drunk Beauties and Devilskein & Dearlove all published by Random House (Umuzi) and Agency Blue published by Tafelberg. Devilskein & Dearlove is nominated for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal in the UK. Read more about Alex here.

Andrew Salomon’s Young Adult Novel The Chrysalis was published by Oxford University Press and his latest novel, the fantasy thriller Tokoloshe Song will be published by Random House Umuzi in 2014. Read more about Andrew here.

fb2 Join us on Twitter

Click to Pay with PayPal


Pay using Mastercard Pay using VISA  

About Us

NZ Writers College is a leading online writing school in New Zealand.

We offer specialised, online writing courses tutored by award-winning writers. Get the writing tools you need, expert insider advice and hours and hours of writing practice. Work one-to-one with a professional writer and realise your writing dreams.



NZ Writers College offers online writing classes all over New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands. We have students from Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Napier, Whangarei, Rotorua, Hastings, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Invercargill, Dunedin, Hawkes Bay, Palmerston North, as well as Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Melbourne, Australia.

Contact Us

Nichola Meyer or Koos Turenhout

Phone:      +64 9 550 4635

9-5 Monday to Friday

Writing Services

white line grad
Student Log-in