NZSA Mentor Programme Guidelines and Rules


The NZSA Mentor Programme provides  beginning or emerging writers who demonstrate potential and commitment, with one-on-one feedback from an experienced writer. The mentor will assist the mentee with their professional development and support them in the way that is most likely to move their project closer to publication and achieve the greatest long-term benefits. The project that the writer submits will be a work in progress. This programme is made possible with support from Creative New Zealand.

The NZ Society of Authors mentorship programme is for:

  • Emerging and newer writers who want professional development, a safe space to discuss their work, intellectual community, role models, accountability and substantive feedback.
  • It is designed to give beginning or emerging writers who demonstrate potential and commitment the opportunity to work closely with an experienced writer as their mentor in order to hone their writing skills and, in the process, take a piece of work from the early stages to a polished manuscript with potential for publication.

There are 13 mentorships available each year. As in previous years, NZSA supports emerging writers identifying as Māori, Pacifika, and Asian by tagging 3 mentorships for those who identify with these ethnicities. 

Mentors dedicate 25 hours of their time to a full mentorship and 12.5 hours to a half mentorship. For this work the mentor is paid by NZSA. The programme is mostly funded by a grant from Creative New Zealand. The applicants’ application fee contributes to the administrative cost of the selection process. 

Each mentorship spans a 7 – 8 month period which starts in April when the match is confirmed and ends by 1 December.


Once National Office receives the names of the successful applicants from the Selection Panel, the mentee is matched with a mentor taking into consideration the names given to us on the application form and guidance from the selection panel.

The selected mentor is sent a sample of the work in progress and once he or she has agreed to mentor, a phone / online meeting is scheduled to ensure a good working relationship can be formed. If both parties are happy, each completes an agreement form and the mentorship can begin.  If one of the pair feel that it would not work then a new mentor will be found for the mentee.

Once the mentorship is confirmed National Office will provide a guide for the mentee on how to get the best out of the mentorship. This will include the rules of the mentorship, agreeing on a communication plan with the mentor and setting goals that are shared with the mentor.

The mentor will dedicate a percentage of the mentoring hours to reading, researching (if required) and writing notes so they can critique the work and give constructive feedback. The rest of the time will be spent communicating with the mentee.

At the end of the mentorship both the mentor and mentee participate in an evaluation of the programme.


Desired outcomes from the mentoring process are that the writer is more able to:

  • utilise skills and awareness to self-critique their work;
  • work through the various drafts on their own to produce publishable work;
  • have confidence in their ability and worth as a writer;
  • have learnt and gone some way towards perfecting the techniques of writing;
  • have a project that is approaching a publishable quality;
  • develop tools and techniques that will assist them throughout their writing career;
  • gain a better understanding of the publishing industry;
  • achieve stated goals more easily.

For the best outcome it is preferred that the mentee work on a single project for the duration of the mentorship.

NZSA Mentor Programme Rules

  • The NZSA Mentor programme is an initiative of NZ Society of Authors and supported by Creative New Zealand. Both the New Zealand Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi o Aotearoa (PEN NZ) Inc and Creative NZ must be acknowledged in any subsequent publication of the submitted project.
  • Confidentiality is a requirement of any mentorship relationship. Each participant must treat information that is shared as strictly confidential, not to be revealed to anyone else unless the mentee or mentor states otherwise. The mentor agrees to not discuss the project with any third party without express permission from the writer.
  • Mentees must be current financial members of NZSA and a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident. Individuals wishing to join the NZSA in order to benefit from this programme who have chosen to pay by monthly instalments, are obliged to pay a minimum of 50% of the membership fee prior to application.
  • To be eligible to apply, the applicant must not have previously received a mentorship through the NZSA Mentor programme (as places are limited NZSA is unable to offer mentorships more than once to the same applicant).
  • Mentees are selected and matched with mentors by a Selection Panel of three experienced writers. The panel’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • A phone / online meeting takes place with the matched mentee and mentor to ensure a rapport can be formed. If both parties are happy they complete an agreement form and the mentorship can begin. If one of the pair feels that it would not work then a new mentor will be found for the mentee. It is possible at this stage for either party to withdraw from the programme.
  • If a mentee wishes to withdraw from the programme after the mentorship has begun they must notify National Office immediately.
  • Both parties will sign an agreement committing them to either a 25 hour mentorship or a 12.5 hour mentorship. By signing this agreement the mentee and mentor agree to abide by the guidelines, rules and obligations.  Once both agreements are received NZSA will authorise the first payment to the mentor.
  • Contact between mentor and mentee can be arranged in whatever way is suitable for both participants. Mentors will be available to discuss ideas and problems, provide editorial advice and share the benefit of their experience as published writers.
  • Mentors will keep a record of their time spent on the mentorship, this time will include time spent reading, researching (if required) and writing critiques. The mentee will keep a record of the time spent communicating with the mentor and should check in with their mentor from time to time about remaining hours.
  • Mentees undertake that they are prepared to accept the mentor’s critique of their work and to work diligently on their submitted project, meeting deadlines as required and completing the programme within the time frame to the best of their ability.
  • The NZSA Programmes + Operations Manager is your point of contact. If for any reason the mentee is having difficulty contacting the mentor or understanding their critiques National Office will work with both parties to arrive at a solution.
  • The mentor is a role model offering a safe space for the mentee to discuss their work. They provide professional development, accountability and substantive feedback. The mentor doesn’t write with the mentee, fix story problems, edit the work, publish the work or promote the mentee to publishers.  If the mentor chooses to help in any of these areas – great!  But this is beyond mentorship and should not be expected.
  • If the mentor has any concerns or issues with the mentorship they should contact National Office as soon as possible.
  • If the mentee has any concerns or issues with the mentorship they should contact National Office as soon as possible.
  • In the case of a mentor arrangement being terminated, the mentor will be paid a pro rata fee for the time they have spent on the mentorship to date. This will be deducted from the funds available for continuance with another mentor.
  • At the end of either the 25 or 12.5 hours, mentees and mentors are both required to complete an evaluation form. When this evaluation is received the mentor will be paid the second half of their fee.
  • Copyright in any work developed during the programme remains with the mentee.
  • It is expected that the mentee will be the main driver of the mentorship, initiating contact at agreed intervals.
  • It is expected that the mentor will acknowledge any communications in a timely manner and let the mentee know when they can expect feedback on work submitted.
  • The mentor is there to guide the mentee with feedback and by sharing experiences. Any decisions the mentee makes is the mentees decision and he or she takes responsibility for actions taken and choices made.
  • Mentees are required to notify NZ Society of Authors of any career developments including publications, awards and successes.
  • Due to the conditions of funding from Creative New Zealand both mentors and mentees must complete the mentorship in November of the year in which they are awarded the mentorship.  
  • Failure to reasonably abide by these rules may impact on future programme applications and / or inclusion in the Mentor List.

National Office

The Programmes and Operations Manager is the first point of contact for any enquiries or concerns during the mentorship. They can be contacted by phone 09 379 4801 / 0274 9373 and email