NZSA Kupu Kaitiaki Programme for Kaituhi Māori

The aim of this kaupapa is to provide new and emerging kaituhi with valuable feedback from a skilled Kupu Kaitiaki, for the refinement of a part of a manuscript written in te reo Māori. The work can be in the genres of poetry, fiction (excluding plays), short fiction or non-fiction (excluding screenplays and picture books), on any topic(s), of up to 30,000 words.   

To apply, kaituhi can send in a piece a one-page synopsis along with a sample (max 5,000 words) of the manuscript they are seeking feedback on. There are two opportunities available in 2024.

Applications are open now, and close on 5 April. 

How The Programme Works

The two successful manuscripts will then be read by an experienced te reo Māori pūkenga and literary advisor – a Kupu Kaitiaki – who will compile feedback in a brief report. It offers kaituhi an opportunity to further develop style and direction, and receive reo support for a project in the early stages of development.   

The report will offer comments on the writer’s technical ability in terms of both the craft of writing and the use of te reo Māori, as well as whakaaro for improvement and suggestions on the next steps, to encourage momentum, innovation and further exploration of ideas and techniques. 

After written feedback has been received, there is the opportunity for a kōrero with the kupu kaitiaki for up to two hours, which can take place either kanohi ki te kanohi, by telephone, or zoom. This is a chance to ask and answer questions arising from the report.  

The desired outcome of this programme is to champion Māori writers and Māori writing and in particular, works by kaituhi Māori in te reo Māori. It aims to support the amplification of Māori voices, Māori stories, and ultimately see greater publication and performance of these works.     


Applications for this programme are open from 8 March – 5 April 2024.   

Once applications close, they are sent to a selection panel who then decide on the recipients. Applicants will be notified within 4-6 weeks of the result. Assessments of the recipients’ works will begin shortly thereafter, and will be completed on/by 20 June 2024.   


This programme is open to all kaituhi who whakapapa Māori, ie not just those who are members of NZSA.

Successful applicants will also receive a year’s free membership to the NZSA. For existing members, their membership will be extended for an additional year gratis.  

To apply

Applications are open now – 8 March, and are open for one month, closing 5 April. To apply, simply fill out the application form and pay the application fee of $20.

In your application, please include:

  • A one-page synopsis or outline of your project (1.5 spacing, PDF format)
  • A sample of your work-in-progress to a maximum of 5,000 words. This might be the first 1-2 chapters of a prose work , three short stories, 12 poems, a first act. (Format should be PDF, ideally 12pt and double-spaced with wide margins on both sides. See Fineprint below for more details on formatting.)
  • Once your application has been submitted you will be taken to the application fee page. Please complete the order for $20 payment and make payment of the fee using your name and KUPU KAITIAKI as reference.
  • If you are a new member and have not yet received your membership number, write ‘new member’ for the membership question in the form.

Desired outcomes

  • have confidence in their reo;
  • have learnt and gone some way towards honing their techniques of writing;
  • furthered their skills and awareness in order to self-critique their work;
  • have a project that is approaching a publishable quality;
  • develop tools and techniques that will assist them throughout their writing career;


The decision of the selection panel is final, and it is not able to provide feedback on individual applications not awarded a mentorship. If any applicant contacts a member of the selection panel with regard to this programme their application will not be admissible. We thank you for your understanding.  

Tips on the correct format for writing samples:  

  • Use a plain font. (Black, 12-point, Times New Roman, Ariel or similar are ideal.)   
  • Use standard A4 page size with wide margins on all sides  
  • Set alignment to left justified  
  • Use a single space after full stops  
  • Use double-spaced line spacing  
  • Format paragraphs according to genre standards. (Fiction authors usually use indented paragraphs. Nonfiction authors may opt for no indentation so long as paragraphs are separated by a full paragraph break.)  
  • Number your pages

A word count must appear on the manuscript. Please note that the maximum length of the manuscript selected for review by the Kupu Kaitiaki is 30,000 words – we cannot review manuscripts longer than this word count. Thank you for your understanding. 

Ngā pātai?

If you’ve any queries re this programme, please don’t hesitate to contact, Kaiwhakahaere Hōtaka o Te Kāhui Māori, who would be glad to help.  

This NZSA Programme for kaituhi Māori is made possible with the support of Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Ngā mihi nunui ki a rātou.

Manatū Taonga | Ministry of Culture and Heritage