Six talented secondary school students awarded mentorships with professional writers as part of NZ Society of Authors Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa (PEN NZ Inc) Youth Mentorship Programme.

NZSA normally awards four youth mentorships each year but this year the panel found it impossible to limit the mentorships to four, and recommended two additional mini mentorships. These young writers will hone their writing skills and develop their craft through the year as part of this programme.

2021 Youth Mentorships awarded to:

Awhina Barbarich

Amberlea Gordon
Ella Quarmby
Abi Troughton

Mini Mentorships awarded to:
Amelia Kirkness
Fergus McMullan

Kerryn Macquarie
Kezia Pickering
Sarah-Kate Simons
Ethan Lovelock

Award-winning author Anna Mackenzie, who convened the panel along with writer and poet Rosetta Allan, commented: “Quirky, engaging, bold, refreshing – there are so many ways one could describe this year’s applications for the NZSA 2021 Youth Mentorship programme. The breadth of theme, style and approach proved a delight for the selection panel – a little like unwrapping gifts; each one charming and surprising.

Inevitably, it was a challenge to select the four young writers who will receive nine hours of mentoring from an established writer – and what a gift that is! The opportunity to be challenged, to try new approaches, to discover what it means to develop and craft your work is an ideal way to kick-start a writing career. Little wonder there was a healthy field of applicants.

The programme aims to recognise raw talent, originality and commitment, but also to draw out potential and provide opportunity to grow where support at just the right moment will have maximum effect. The mentorships do not reward the most polished existing piece of work, but look to the future, to what this young writer can produce and how they might find their path forward.

I encourage all the applicants to continue with their writing. It was a challenging task to select only a handful of these young writers. Reading through the applications multiple times assures me that the future of writing in Aotearoa is strong.

The successful applicants hail from Whangarei, Napier, Tauranga (two: there must be something in the water!), Christchurch and Oamaru, and include students in level 12 and 13. Projects include themed short story collections, poetry addressing immediate and varied experience of the world, and a steam-punk novel.

I and my fellow selector, Rosetta Allan, look forward to seeing how these promising young voices develop. All should be proud of their efforts thus far. I hope they will each seize this opportunity and squeeze from it everything they can learn. Some of the applicants will, inevitably, find other paths but I am quite confident that some will forge a stellar path within our literary scene.”

The NZSA Youth Mentorship Programme was established in 2010 to foster and develop emerging writing talent around New Zealand with the support of established authors.

It is one of The New Zealand Society of Authors successful mentoring programmes for writers and is made possible with the support by Creative New Zealand.

More about the NZSA Youth Mentor Programme

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